Building an Authentic Community | Dan Peppiat

Summer 2020 | Community


Yoga Like Water so much more than yoga, I’ll say that for starters - or maybe less than yoga, it depends how you look at it I suppose. That isn’t entirely an accident, it is by some sort of organic design.

Right from the start we knew that we wanted to embrace as many like minded individuals as possible, and an awful lot of those don’t practice ‘yoga’ in the generally accepted - touch your toes and hum ‘OM’ - sense of the word.

Their yoga might be parkour, free diving, contemporary dance, surfing, making music or art - you name it, if they are obviously in the flow of life then that’s all we need to know. They are basically doing the same thing as us.

I think it is this openness to absolutely anyone that has allowed us to meet so many incredible humans over the years. Embracing all of these diverse sets of opinions, methods, styles and so on has been a lesson to others who might be more close minded, that essentially we are all the same. We are all on the same journey but by different routes. Absolutely everyone has something of value to share, they might just not realise it yet - that’s one of the core principles of Yoga Like Water.

I would say, our 200 hour ‘Teacher Training’ is the backbone of our community, because over the years it has bought the most people into the Yoga Like Water circle. In reality we call it "an immersion" because it certainly never feels like we are training anybody. We learn as much from the students as they do from us, and that isn’t a cheap throwaway soundbite.

We always say that the teachers in training crew guide the feel and energy of every training and that is totally true. We have never had two, year long adventures that have felt even remotely the same. It could be said that all of our immersions, the 200 hours and the ‘further’ explorations, are community run.

Even the content is constantly changing and evolving. We now have past students sharing their in depth and niche knowledge with new intakes. For example, we've had physiotherapists working with the human animal model share their experiences with real, damaged human bodies, mime artists share incredible ways in which to hold space and project yourself as a teacher, free-dive record holders sharing their wisdom about the breath, Chinese martial arts wizards opening our eyes to different ways of appreciating energy flow, posture and movement. All of these community contributions make the Yoga Like Water circle unique and ever changing.

This desire to keep changing comes from a grounding that everyone questions everything - including us. We don’t set up shop and suggest in any way that what we are sharing is ‘right’, or the ‘best’ way - it is just an opinion and a perspective on things, no more or less valid than anyone else’s. That develops a strong sense of equality, that anyone in that teacher training room might say something that blows us all away.

I don’t think we ever set out to intentionally create or nurture any sort of ‘Yoga Like Water’ community; anyone who knows us well would laugh hysterically at that idea! We never even intended to start the first teacher training, but that’s another story altogether. Gemma and I are way too disorganised, random and spontaneous to look ahead at ‘developing’ something over time. We are also inherently quiet people - quite happy with our own company, bimbling along. We are, however, open to just allowing things to unfold naturally. This is why we love how serendipity  has seen this extended family grow around us entirely naturally.

From a business point of view we are pretty hopeless and happily so. We've never had a business plan, meaning we are never planning to upsell future projects or alternative agendas. We have had several opportunities to expand the Yoga Like Water ‘thing’ vastly over the years, but have never had any interest to do so. It just didn't sit right with us, perhaps because we feel like it would pollute any true sense of community right from the core.

I suppose we have a loose idea for the future and have had for some time, in which we find a space that is there to be used by any of the crew - past or future. A place where we can all be outdoors, ideally near to the sea and just do our thing in peace. Not a commune or a community (hippies that we are, we both love our quiet family life too much for that) but certainly enough space that we could hold camping weekends for free for the extended Yoga Like Water family. To offer a tranquil get away when anyone in the crew needs it or finds themselves homeless. Even now we have a constant stream of visiting teachers staying upstairs in the attic through the year of teacher training weekends. It’s lovely to have all this energy in the place and to allow that to ebb and flow as people come and go.

If anything, this is a lesson in the most anarchic and spontaneous way of simply watching a ‘community’ to develop - by allowing everyone to be who they are and accepting that as perfect. There are so many diverse characters, from all over the world who, just like us, have their odd ways: the brilliant face of their diamond and the grubby side. But that is what makes them all so memorable.

I never complain about what we do, because I genuinely feel very lucky to just be a part of it, I don’t want to run anything, or be in charge of anything. I never have - I’m way too lazy. But to be a part of something that has grown from nothing, however loose that is, is pretty cool.

About Dan

"Yoga is a completely personal process for every individual and we can touch it in every moment of our lives, not just on a rectangular mat." -Dan’s philosophy.

Dan believes that you can’t teach yoga, you can only facilitate other people's journey to find a perfectly organic way of practicing for them, something that he calls ‘Yoga Like Water’. He is just as likely to be found experimenting with these concepts free-diving, on a surf or kiteboard, slack-line, or rock face as in the many studios that he runs sessions in around the country.

Dan's adventures have taken him to medical school, to teach science, to be a pyrotechnic installation artist, to renovating ancient farmhouses in France, to raising and home educating his two daughters on a canal boat. He has certainly ignored any imaginary ‘rules’ that society might have. He has always tried to ‘live his yoga’ by exploring the mental boundaries of the debilitating anxiety that originally brought him to it as a teenager.

He spreads this philosophy through the unique Yoga Like Water Immersive Teacher Training with some of the most inspiring yoga tutors in the UK, who are all equally passionate about their subjects. He is married to Gemma, a Yoga Therapist, who never has any shortage of work with such a challenging husband on hand!