I'm a retired consultant psychiatrist, a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. I continue to have an abiding interest in and fascination with matters of mental health. Yoga is of course an ideal companion in this. My yoga journey began 40 years ago when I came home from work to find two visitors standing on their heads in my back garden, a new experience for me! However in some ways it possibly began many years previously, when I was introduced at the age of 12 to a form of meditation in the Christian faith of my childhood. From 1972 I attended weekly yoga classes until the early 1980s, when family and work pressures intervened.
I rediscovered yoga around 1995, studying with various teachers and traditions. I also rediscovered Buddhist meditation, specifically in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, attending courses in Edinburgh and at Kagyu Samye Ling Monastery in Eskdalemuir.
I trained as a yoga teacher initially with Yoga Scotland (then SYTA) between September 1999 and June 2001. Since then I've attended numerous training courses. I've loved pranayama practice since completing a year-long module with Philip Xerri in 2002. I met my beloved Satyananda teachers, Swamis Pragyamurti and Vedantananda, not long after I qualified, attending various courses in London and Portugal from 2004 onwards, including an Integration Course with Swami Vedantananda in 2007. This course authorised me to teach asana, pranayama, mudra, bandha, cleansing techniques and meditation practices in the Bihar School of Yoga tradition. The project I completed as part of that course united my two interests of yoga and mental health, given my training and work in psychiatry. I called the project Mind Balancing – yoga for stress management. This gave me a springboard for courses and day seminars I continue to run from time to time. Because of my medical background I'm also interested in yoga for physical health problems – although mind and body are so interwoven that both are involved in all kinds of conditions.
In June 2006 Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati, successor to Swami Satyananda, gave me my spiritual name, Bijam. The Sanskrit word bija means “seed”. Bija mantras are single syllables of great power so I'm still working on that one. In 2010 I received initiation into karma sannyasa. This gives me a direction of travel in terms of karma yoga, work as service, without thought of reward, as part of my sadhana (practice).
See the blog Karma Yoga for more information about this aspect of the path of yoga.
I spent 6 years as Chair of Yoga Scotland, stepping down in April 2014. The spare time I expected hasn't really materialized as I seem to have added more yoga teaching!