Meet Davy Jones of Brighton Yoga Foundation

Meet Davy Jones of Brighton Yoga Foundation

Davy Jones co-founded the Brighton Yoga Festival which has held ten successful annual events since 2014. In 2016 he also set up and chairs a registered charity, Brighton Yoga Foundation, which aims to bring yoga to those who do not normally have access to it. Davy has been a yoga student since 1999 and a teacher since 2008. He also teaches yoga holidays with his partner Janaki as part of InspirationYoga ( He passionately believes in the power of yoga to effect not just physical and mental change, but also social and political change. He was the first ever qualified yoga teacher in the UK to stand for parliament – for the Green Party in the 2015 General Election in Brighton Kemptown. He has been a member of the British Wheel of Yoga for over 20 years and is also a member of the IWGB Yoga Teachers Union.

Tell us a bit about yourself

I had a comfortable and happy middle class upbringing. I studied politics and philosophy at University and since then have been involved in progressive politics for 50 years, trying (sadly, generally unsuccessfully!) to make the world a better place. I spent decades working first in the political campaigning sector, then in local government in London. I have two lovely daughters from a previous relationship and am married to Janaki, another yoga teacher and we teach yoga workshops and holidays here and abroad.

How and when did your yoga journey begin and what inspired you to become a yoga teacher?

Like many people who discover yoga, it came in a period of personal turmoil when a long-term relationship came to an end. Yoga was both a stabilising and a liberating influence. I had not done any regular exercise since I was a teenager playing table tennis. Suddenly practising Ashtanga Yoga, I felt fit and healthy again. It helped that I found I was lucky with my genes and was “naturally” flexible. After a few years I met my yoga teacher partner Janaki and she inspired and encouraged me to think about becoming a teacher. But I was in a high paid public sector job and needed some years to transition my lifestyle so that I could do so. I had a lot of experience of public speaking and running training courses so that side of things was not intimidating. I just had to learn enough to feel confident that I wouldn’t hurt anyone!

What’s the biggest overall lesson you’ve learnt from being a yoga teacher?

It’s funny really because as every good yoga teacher knows, the more you learn and teach, the more you realise how little you really know! But you have to start somewhere – albeit recognising how much you still have to learn. The biggest lessons? 1) Getting your ankle behind your head doesn’t make you a better person; 2) If you don’t know the answer to a student’s question (especially if it’s about a medical/ anatomical issue) be honest and say so – you are just a yoga teacher, not the fount of all knowledge; 3) It’s very hard to make a living as a full-time yoga teacher – realistically most teachers are going to be part-time with another job.

Knowing what you know now about yoga, what would you have done differently when you were first starting your yoga journey?

Looking back, I think I was pretty smug about “being good at Ashtanga yoga” – which of course is only one quite small part of the international yoga community (and a somewhat toxic brand now following the revelations about Patthabi Jois). A key turning point was deciding to take the 18 month yoga teacher training course with the British Wheel of Yoga and the Life Centre. It was comprehensive, taught by some great teachers and hugely broadened my yoga horizons. I wish I had been able to take that course earlier in my yoga journey. My advice now to people thinking of taking teacher training is to find the best and most comprehensive course you can and one which allows you time to absorb the lessons and integrate them into your teaching approach. And not to assume you can be a well-paid yoga teacher!

What inspired you to set up Brighton Yoga Foundation?

The more I taught yoga, the more I began to realise how valuable yoga could be not just for the fit and healthy, but also for people who didn’t think yoga was for “people like them” or who couldn’t afford it. So we set up the Brighton Yoga Festival hoping to reach such people – but in truth it appealed mainly to the existing yoga community. So in 2016 we set up the Brighton Yoga Foundation. It has raised more than £120,000 in grants to fund hundreds of classes for people recovering from or still suffering physical and mental ill health or addictions, for homeless people, women recovering from domestic and sexual abuse, young and older people, and many more.

How have you seen the establishment of the foundation benefit your practitioners and the community?

In each of the last two years we have run around 300 classes with around 2500 participants. We know from the feedback that it has made a huge difference to a lot of people. The feedback is consistently very positive and moving. One participant recently wrote:“Your classes have literally saved my life”.

But perhaps almost as encouraging is the fact that we have helped to inspire many others to provide these type of yoga classes. I am currently trying to bring together people who either are already providing them or wish to do so, and with the help of others in the yoga community, we hope to convene an online forum to bring them together to swop information, experiences and ideas, and possibly to set up a loose future network.

What does a typical day look like for you?

There isn’t one! I teach 4 classes over two days each week and spend a lot of time doing unpaid work for the Brighton Yoga Foundation. I am learning to play the harmonica and singing in an amateur local choir. I follow modern music and culture and spend time running, walking with my partner and looking after our blind cat.

What does the world need more of? Less of?

The world generally needs fewer billionaires with their environmentally and economically destructive lifestyles. And it needs more participatory democracy to enable us to move towards a sustainable future. In the yoga world, we have to resist the trend towards multinational corporations moving in to make money from yoga, reducing it in the process to an individualised exercise regime for the affluent. We need more community outreach yoga bringing access to yoga to those who currently can’t afford it or don’t realise the benefits it would bring to help with their physical or mental conditions. That would do for a start!

The post Meet Davy Jones of Brighton Yoga Foundation appeared first on Blog – Yogamatters.

Share this post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.