Andrew McGonigle aka Doctor Yogi (www.doctor-yogi.com / @doctoryogi)
Andrew McGonigle is a medically trained yoga anatomy teacher empowering yoga teachers to teach from a more science-informed perspective. He talks to Adam about his new book The Physiology of Yoga and how it applies to Ashtanga yoga.
Evidence-based thinking/research | Where is our information coming from? | What is anecdotal information? | What is expert opinion? | Systematic reviews/meta-analysis | Does yoga cause injuries? | Critical thinking | Muscle fascia & yin yoga | Does muscle shorten or lengthen over time? | Stretch tolerance | Role of the nervous system | Can you have short hamstrings? | Importance of hypermobility | Micromanaging teachers | The use of teaching language | Movement is medicine | Not moving is worse than moving | Lower back issues | Yoga for stress | Menstruation and shame in yoga | Parasympathetic system | Role of the diaphragm | Is yoga all you need? | What is bandha? | Detoxification, diet and yoga | When to step away from the rules
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Andrew attended Medical School at The University of Newcastle Upon Tyne. However, he struggled with the non-holistic approach often adopted by western medicine. He graduated in 2005 at the age of 23 and worked for a period as a junior doctor in Sunderland. However, for many reasons he knew that this career was not suited to him. He finally made the decision to leave the medical world.
In 2004 he started to practise Transcendental Meditation as a coping mechanism for stress. This opened a gateway into spirituality. He began a new life in Sydney in 2006 working for the British fashion brand Paul Smith. There he regularly attended hatha yoga classes. After a few years of dedicated practice, he embarked on an Ashtanga Yoga teacher training course at Yoga Thailand with Paul Dallaghan.
Teaching is in his blood and is something that has always come naturally to him, his parents were both keen teachers. Early on in his life, he set up an after-school homework club to help younger students with their studies.
Light Bulb Moment
Having moved to London in 2009 he started working at the Triyoga headquarters. For almost 9 years he remained in a Managerial role. He set up his own small yoga classes in a local church hall and completed a holistic massage diploma. While assisting on a massage course someone asked why he wasn’t teaching anatomy. This was his true light bulb moment!
From that point onwards he focused all his attention on establishing himself as an anatomy teacher. Having studied anatomy in great detail during Medical School he now needed to look at this incredibly vast subject from a completely different angle and create ways to make it relevant to yoga. He enrolled in dissection classes that focused on fascia (a word that he had never come across at Medical School! In addition, he spent all of his spare time re-reading anatomy books, listening to podcasts and talking about anatomy to anyone who would listen.
In recent years he has become a keen writer. He has contributing chapters to the popular Yoga Teaching Handbook: A Practical Guide for Yoga Teachers and Trainees and Yoga Student Handbook: Develop Your Knowledge of Yoga Principles and Practice. His new book, Supporting Yoga Students with Common Injuries and Conditions, was published in March 2021.
His latest book, The Physiology of Yoga separates speculation from fact by examining how the body responds and adapts to yoga within many systems of the body: musculoskeletal, nervous, respiratory, cardiovascular, lymphatic, immune, endocrine, reproductive, and digestive. Straightforward explanations guide you in sorting through conflicting information about what yoga really can help you achieve and in evaluating whether certain yoga methods provide benefits to any or all of those systems. Read more here.