Leo Oppenheim | Men That Move
Men That Move
What does your perfect morning look like?
Nauli and Neti Kriya (cleansing with warm water and lemon juice plus sinus cleanse with salt water using a Neti pot.) Followed by a trip to the reservoir for coldwater and breathwork. I find this combination energises and cleanses me and is the perfect prep for the rest of the day.
Tell us about when and how you got into movement.
I was given some inline skates on my 13th birthday and this absolutely changed my relationship with movement and became my key modality for 20 years. It changed my body and dynamics completely - giving me a path into other modalities as a result.
What style of movement do you practice most nowadays and what keeps you coming back for more?
Half a year ago I started rock climbing which has been a wonderful experience. This, coupled with Dharma Yoga, calisthenics, coldwater and breathwork are my key modalities currently. Climbing keeps me coming back because of the beautifully encouraging social nature and the mental and physical challenges. I find this to be the same for other disciplines as well. There is nothing like moving and breathing with your collective, raising group energy and consciousness together.
If you could only train or practice for 2 hours per week, how would you spend it?
A power hour of climbing mixed with calisthenics and an hour of Dharma Yoga and breathwork - with a quick dip in cold water at the end!
What's your primary goal in your practice at present?
To connect with myself emotionally and energetically. I have an intense working and teaching schedule so I find it critical to reconnect with myself when I'm not facilitating.
What's your all-time favourite movement, pose or technique?
There are so many in so many different disciplines, but I do loved the one-armed Dharma variation of handstand. It's beautiful and fragile yet strong all at once.
What makes a great teacher (of any discipline)?
The ability to sense the energy of a room and adapt/accommodate it. But more importantly, to get out of the way of the practice. Ego can dictate teaching and class structures where a well-versed facilitator can really allow the practice to flow through them as a conduit.
In the last 5 years, what habit, behaviour or belief has most improved your life?
Embodied movement through Yoga and the learnings of the Yamas and Niyamas was the first impactful change. This was 8 years ago but has now drawn me into breathwork and coldwater exposure. These practices have truly allowed me to go inward and accept/understand myself on a deeper level. The breathwork really pushed me to make profound changes in my life where I was comfortably uncomfortable.
Tell us about a time failure has led you to later success.
I broke my ankle when I was 21 - the plate and seven screws are still a part of me. I had limited upper body strength before this and using/playing with the crutches gave me so much push and brace strength that definitely assisted me further down the line. I also think this shone a light on softer practices for me in regards to rehab. I would have never imagined that I would be a Yin Yoga teacher back then. That accident truly taught me to work into balancing my Yang with my Yin.
What are 1-3 books or films that have greatly influenced your life?
- The Body Keeps the Score - Bessel Van Der
- The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
- Breath - James Nestor
If you could be any animal in the world, what would you choose and why?
A gibbon. Wonderfully agile over many different environments with awesome pull strength.
What's your guiltiest pleasure?
It has to be Dishoom - such an amazing place!
When you feel stressed or unfocused, what do you do to resolve it?
A cold shower or better yet cold water in a natural spot always with breathwork beforehand.
What advice would you give to someone who is about to embark on a movement and wellness journey?
Your movement and meditation practice may be completely different to everyone else's. My advice would be to find your movement. Anyone advising you that the practices that they use are best ones are usually people that it may be wise to ignore.
What are the worst recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
I see individuals or companies try and discredit other practices to plinth their own. This is a red flag for me. I feel movement, meditation and wellness are very much subjective and if techniques and disciplines are powerful, that's enough. They don't need to pass judgement on other styles to be validated.
If you could share one message to every single person on the planet, what would you say and why?
Look to release judgement - of others and in turn yourself (our external judgements are only a reflection of our internal landscape anyway). When working into this path, it has become a feeling of mine that a lot of energy is wasted and dissonance is created from putting ourselves above or below others. On a path of non judgement, energy can be used instead to connect with everyone and everything around you from a place of altruism. And this is truly a beautiful place to be.
Follow Leo's practice on Instagram @leo_oppenheim or to attend a class, check out the schedule at Blok Manchester.
All photography by Fareez at K.U.I.C.
Leave a comment