Mark O’Brien

Birthplace? Portsmouth (UK)

When did you move to OZ?
1988…I’ve lived in Oz longer than in the UK… but my soul still feels British even if I support Oz in cricket!

What’s your signature dish?  Haloumi, mango, walnut, avocado salad with a killer balsamic dressing

Tea or Coffee? Tea in bed. Then I’m a massive coffee nut by day (just one high quality cup)

Favourite café?
Seniman in Ubud, Cafe Mocca in Canggu, Little Legends, Infinity, Showbox or Market Lane Cafe in Manly, Albert & Moore in Freshwater, Lil’ Bean Gosford (oh you mean just one favourite??? impossible)

Cat or Dog? Cat obviously. I distrust and fear dogs big-time.

Star Sign? Virgo. The best

What quote do you live by? “Truth is a pathless land” (J Krishnamurti explaining there is no “right” way to find Truth or enlightenment.) 
Also “In meditation we concentrate more and more upon less and less” so I constantly try to simplify my practice and my meditations.

What Yoga style do you practice? Short answer is “yoga yoga” to suit me each day. Hatha, Tantra, Restorative, slow vinyasa, Ashtanga, Kirtan (Bhakti yoga) Meditation, life…

How did you start yoga?
I meditated for a while before my first down-dog in my 30’s in lunchtime yoga classes at the ad agency I worked at. It went from there to become a hobby, then a passion, and became my life for the past 25 years. 

Can you sum up what Yoga gives to you in a few words?
Meaning, direction, a clear moral compass, endless curiosity, acceptance, wonderful  community, and I know I’m a way better person for doing it in terms of health, patience, managing stress and and a complex business.

When and where did you do your first Teacher Training? 1997 with Mark Whitwell, Karen Schaeffer (now called Ani Pema) and Mark Breadner, and then many other trainings, but most notably with my teacher Donna Farhi who I’ve studied with every year since 2000. My wife teaches meditation and is far wiser than me, so she’s another priceless teacher in my life.

Favourite pose? Savasana (of course) or half moon balance (Ardha Chandrasana)

Least favourite pose? Pretty much any twist. My skeleton and my injuries just don’t get ’em!

If you could study with any teacher, who would it be and why?
Erich Schiffman. Never met him but love his book, his podcasts and his attitude. He’s the real deal and endlessly fascinating. He also studied with -and later worked for- another hero of mine: J Krishnamurti

Best in-class blooper? In 20+ years of teaching that’s hard. No comment….

Lululemon or Dharmabums? Not my scene….prefer boardshorts and daggy Bonds singlet!

Where would be your ultimate Yoga retreat destination? My verandah at home, or Cambodia, Vietnam or Bhutan.

What do you love most about your job? Freedom. Sharing with amazing people interested in making the world a better place by coming to really know themselves. Transformation every day. Coffee after class! Even bad days in the office are usually amazing.

What have you given up to teach yoga?
A corporate income, wearing a suit and shoes, addiction to the material rat-race, insecurity. Hysterical clients and difficult co-workers.

What have you gained by teaching yoga? I’ve finally found what I want to do when I grow up! Amazing tools to manage the challenges of life and relationships. Deep contentment. A real community. I dress like a dag and don’t wear shoes.  My health and a good night’s sleep (all rare in corporate days of old)

If you could talk to your pre-yoga self, what would you tell him? 
Everything you do now will be useful one day…you are NEVER off your path…you will find your calling and a path with heart. With the love of an amazing partner, a dose of self-discipline and oh-so-generous teachers you will soon enjoy clarity, fun, confidence and abundance and you’ll find more love for your partner every day.

What hobbies/activities do you have outside yoga?
Cooking, bushwalking, coffee, reading, kirtan, music, walking and talking with my wife (she talks, I walk)

How long have you taught at Qi?   Not long enough….Since I opened it in Janaury 2001

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