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Wellbeing

7 things to know about the Kilted Yogi

December 5th 2017 / Anna Hunter / 0 comment

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Like your yoga with a sense of humour? Meet Finlay Wilson, responsible for bare bummed yoga handstands in Scottish forests and many a lunge in a loch. It’s yoga, but not as you know it…

Yoga and making fun of yourself don’t always go hand in hand. It’s all too easy to adopt ‘worrier’ pose if you’re sequences aren’t flowing right, and if you’re a newbie, the ohmming element can feel a bit alienating to the average cynical Brit. Add in a bit of pisstaking and mooning, however, and apparently we’re all ears/ arms/ legs, or at least that would seem to be the situation given the 57 million Facebook views of yoga teacher Finlay Thomas Wilson’s ‘Kilted Yogi’ video.

Along with his pal and former professional ice hockey player Tristan Cameron-Harper, the two kilted Scotsmen perform acrobatic moves on rocks, in lochs and against a very Monarch of the Glen woodland backdrop, with lots of drum bonging, chime sounding and words such as ‘power’ and ‘strength’ apparating onto the screen. So far, so hilariously wholesome, until you reach the finale that is. If you’ve not yet witnessed it, see above, but it’s fair to say that Scottish traditionalists will be pleased with the attention to detail regarding the kilted attire. Yoga traditionalists, maybe less so, but you can’t please everyone. Here’s seven things to know about Kilted Yoga and its creator…

1. Finlay is first and foremost a great dancer.

I should know because I went to Uni with him in Scotland and he essentially swung me around a room to Backstreet Boys during an ‘urban’ dance class. In a good way. Anyway, I digress, but he’s undoubtedly extremely fit and agile, and his flexi poses and postures are quite something to behold, not just because they’re completed semi-clothed. He hasn’t always been so bendy, however…

2. He came to yoga through injury.

Major operations on both legs meant that Backstreet wasn’t back anymore, and Finlay had to find alternative forms of movement to get him through a protracted period on rehab. Enter yoga. Finlay describes a journey from “walking like a baby deer” to “competency after about five years”. He’s now the co- founder of a yoga studio in Dundee (Heart Space Yoga & Bodyworks for the Scots among you) and practising yoga every damn day, so if that’s not a lesson to keep at it, I don’t know what is. It’s not just physical battles that Finlay’s come up against either…

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3. Yoga has helped him to overcome depression.

It’s not all kilted lols in the forest- getting on the mat/rock is the only form of exercise thus far that has allowed Finlay to get inside his own head and work through mental health issues to notice habitual negative thoughts and impulses and go about changing them for the better when they arise. As such, he’s styled his own yoga studio as a “refuge” between home and work, with the aim that anyone entering decompresses from the outside world and its stresses, regardless of any technical yoga ability. In fact, Finlay mainly enjoys working with beginners and specialises in yoga for people with disabilities and chemotherapy patients. He wants yoga to be anything but holier than thou and elitist, which comes through both in his teaching style and very “accessible” videos, which brings us to…

4. He went to great lengths to make ‘that’ video…

It’s all fun and games until you can’t feel your feet. This was the general vibe for the Kilted Yoga shoot, filmed in rural Perthshire, with the now infamous headstand in the snow taking 50 shots to finally nail. That’s dedication. It was originally conceived as a satirical send up of a homoerotic aftershave advert, and Finlay wasn’t quite expecting his broga in the woods clip to attract quite so much attention- 17 million views in less than 24 hours. Seeing as he had everyone’s attention, he decided to use it to intro the bare basics of yoga to anyone who’s ever been intimidated to try it, or who might need an invigorating refresher. No kilt required.

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5. He’s stripping yoga back

By way of his recently published yoga and meditation manual, Kilted Yoga: Yoga Laid Bare. Yes, the back page is the kind of literally cheeky larks you’d expect, and the imagery throughout is certainly stirring, both in terms of landscape and a lotta legs, but the main focus is learning the basics of yoga in plain English, from breathing to downward dog to working up to strength poses and ‘sensory meditation’. There’s a picture to sum up every move and relaxation state, some more risqué than others, plus intel on finding a yoga teacher if you live in a rural area and some tips on where to pick up an authentic kilt if that’s really the only reason you’re sold on this.

6. He wants to get kids into yoga

The end scene of his viral video is perhaps not family viewing for all, but Finlay is passionate about getting kids involved in yoga from a young age, both from a mental and physical health perspective, and he’s also keen to get boys interested in yoga and dispel any “girly” connotations. As such, the gender balance in his Heart Space kids classes are on an even keel- he’s keen to make yoga a gender neutral pursuit. A recent session saw a class demographic of 90 per cent boys, which proves that yoga has undergone a bit of a Billy Elliot shift, in Fife at least.

7. He’s taking Kilted Yoga on tour

He’s packed up his mat and kilt and vinyasa’d from the mountains of Scotland to Canada, New Zealand and many a pit-stop in between. Apparently getting his bum out is one of the best things he’s ever done for business, but beyond that his open access attitude to yoga is getting everyone from the 60+ to the wheelchair bound engaged in daily practice, with permission to laugh in between attempting postures and a concentration of enjoying a good long savasana. Plus, if you’re ever in the market for a kilt, he’s your man…

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Kilted Yoga: Yoga Laid Bare, £9.99

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