This man has gone from addiction to live streamed yoga

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Michael-Caleb George, a gay guy from Liverpool, has been through a lot in his 26 years.

At one point he was reliant on drugs and alcohol, but now, in 2017, he’s a top yoga teacher.

When he approached gay app Blued to share his story, he was met with more than he hoped for: an offer to start his own live stream show.

How do you go from the darkest time of your life to teaching yoga to 27 million users worldwide?

We met with Michael-Caleb to find out.

What’s your background?
I am from Liverpool, raised in Portugal and I have lived in East London for the past six years, I work as a full-time yogi which includes practicing, living and sharing the practice with as many people as possible. I have also recently been hired by Blued as an official broadcaster, doing Live yoga classes three times a week.

You are very open about your past as a drug and alcohol addict, can you tell us more about it?
I picked up my first drink at 12, in the seaside community I was raised in, and by 14 I had started using recreational drugs with my friends. I remember feeling incredibly lonely and isolated during this time. I had a lot of internalised guilt and shame around my sexuality and how sensitive I was as a person, and this was my solution.

By 17 I had progressed to hard drugs and left home. I always felt leaving Portugal and moving back to Liverpool at 16 was an adult decision I had made for myself, but I now realise it was just a licence to live a life of no rules. I had no boundaries and no direction, and it only enabled my hedonistic lifestyle.

I managed to function, put myself through college and then secure a place in university in London, things got progressively worse from then on.

I managed to scrape myself through life and maintain my progressively dangerous behaviours around wanting to run away from myself. That journey then took me into the dark world of drugs and sex within London’s gay community.

I developed some pretty dangerous patterns around drugs and sex and I was constantly putting myself in situations I wasn’t emotionally able to handle, that little 14-year-old just wanted to love and to be loved, and was engaging with a world that would never offer that.

That period of my life all ended with a two day stay in St. Thomas hospital after I had been drugged, violated and left for dead in a Wandsworth Street in the early hours one Monday morning.

I looked in the mirror when I got home and I promised myself I wouldn’t allow that to happen to myself ever again. I then entered a recovery program and with the help of others who shared my journey I was able to start loving and accepting myself.

How did you got into Yoga?
Yes, Yoga basically became my new drug! I was practicing a couple of hours a day, and I started to accept myself and to accept others. That’s when I travelled on to India to be shown the gifts of the practice by an incredibly blessed group of teachers.

Simply that’s how I view the practice, an expression of love that comes from the truth of getting on the mat and connecting with ourselves in a real, open and honest way. It was what I had been searching for this whole time in many ways, something to let myself be who I was. With no expectation, just love.

Why did you approach Blued?
I got speaking, and I told the guys at Blued about how I felt isolated in the gay community. I wanted to find out more about the app and what it had to offer. To my surprise, they responded very positively and after presenting the app, they made a suggestion: share yoga with gay people all over the world on their livestream feature.

It’s so different to other gay dating apps out there which are judgemental and superficial. I felt like my journey fitted in well with Blued. I wanted to share my love for yoga with other people, and broadcasting on Blued lets me do that. I can actually inspire gay guys using it. This was the perfect opportunity for me.

What can we expect from your classes on Blued Live?
It’s suitable for all abilities, and the classes are three times a week and free.

The way that I teach, is that I stimulate the connective tissue between the skin and the bone, It’s a complete practice of the body and mind. I set up a studio space like a proper class, then I teach for 45 minutes on the app.

You don’t need to worry about what level you’re at, I teach classes for all levels. I just want to share this with as many people as possible.

Finally, if you didn’t choose Yoga, what job would you be doing?
I don’t think I’m good at anything else! I’d probably be a lumberjack. Because I’d get to be in the outdoors, fell trees and wear flannel shirts. And I can be hands on with it!

You can catch Michael-Caleb (@TheGayYogi on Blued) every Tuesdays (4-4:45PM), Thursdays (8:45-9:30AM) and Saturdays (10-10:45AM) and follow him on Instagram.

Blued is available for IOS and Android.

Disclaimer: Blued is a PinkNews sponsor.