I hooked up with Adam Maidment from the M.E.N the other week for a chat about all the things I'm up to and he wrote this amazing article about me. Totally buzzing about being in my local paper and all the amazing messages of support I have been getting as a result. Big love to all those who have reached out. So here it is, enjoy the read and let me know what you think.
Here is a link to the article or you can read it below. M.E.N
Liam's journey from drug dealer to yoga addict!!!!
He was a drug dealer on Manchester's streets until tragedy changed his life. Now he is helping 'heal' others...through late-night yoga raves
Liam Browne hosts late-night yoga raves - which incorporates cacao - alongside his yoga teaching.
In 2011, Liam Browne was a beer-drinking drug dealer in Wythenshawe.
A year later, he was in the middle of the rainforest on a spiritual journey with the indigenous people of the Amazon.
Liam, 38, had embarked on an incredible journey around Guatemala, Peru and India to find some true meaning to his life after he realised everything around him was collapsing.
He says the motivation to change his life for the better had been sparked from tragedy when his mother died from cancer.
But it wasn't until he travelled abroad that he found his new life purpose - in helping heal others through yoga. “I was in counselling in Manchester and my drugs worker suggested I tried yoga,” Liam tells the Manchester Evening News. “For some reason, I was really hesitant to do it. I started going to Buddhist meditation but I decided I wasn’t doing yoga until I went to India.
“When I went to India and had my first yoga class, I was hooked on it right away.”
Now, nine years later, Liam is a yoga teacher practising Jivamukti Yoga, a blend of creative practices with traditional elements of yoga. “People were a bit shocked when I first started learning how to teach yoga,” he laughs. "I’m a Mancunian from a working class background, I was told to calm down my accent. “But I just gave them the internal middle finger and refused because I knew I needed to teach from my own perspectives.” It’s now those perspectives that have helped Liam to carve out his own unique spin on meditation and yoga. “At the moment, my big thing is yoga raves in Manchester,” Liam says. “It’s basically a dynamic yoga class that I’d normally teach but I’ve teamed up with various DJs who play a live set during it. “They play everything from drum and bass to acid house. Honestly, If you came to this class, you’d probably feel it’s more therapeutic than a normal class. “I’m trying to put fire in people’s bellies. Sometimes you need to be a little more aggressive about your approach in order to get it done.”
The yoga raves, usually held at Withington Baths, also incorporate cacao, a pure form of chocolate, into the experience. “It gets rid of the head chatter,” he says. “It’s a ceremonial dose of cacao and it puts you in a lovely subtle clarity. Your head chat disappears and it allows you to tune into your heart. "It just gives you a little bit of euphoria and focus. But I promise, it’s totally legal.” However, Liam hasn’t always been in tune with his senses. “I was drug dealing at school. I must have been around 14 at the time,” he says. “I was always selling something as a kid, whether it were Chomps, cigarettes or weed. I was living with my step-dad and I didn’t want anything from him. I wanted to show I could survive on my own.”
As he got older, Liam says his dealing became more sophisticated.
“It just evolved into selling pills and things like that. But it was never anything more than recreational party drugs.” It was his mum’s death in 2007 from cancer that he realised things needed to go in a different direction.“The catalyst for things to change was when my mum died,” he says. “It hit me that if there is an afterlife, then she can probably see what I’m doing. When she was living in Gatley, she had no clue what I was up to. “While it was also the catalyst for the depression, it led me to all the good things in my life so I'm very grateful for the depression and what it’s taught me. Obviously, I wasn’t at the time though.” Liam said the depression had led to suicidal thoughts. “I told myself I’ve got three years. I’m either going to kill myself or I’m going to get happy. It was that bad. “I didn’t like living inside my body for around three years. I just woke up every morning thinking ‘what’s the point’. I didn’t feel I had any purpose. But it’s a great point to grow from. “
Heading off on his spiritual journey around the world was part of that mission to get happy - and where he found his love for yoga. “Seeing these more spiritual countries just gave me more purpose,” Liam adds. “India just changed my whole life completely because it’s just such a game-changer. "The way they do everything just rewires your brain about how lucky we are and in other ways just how unlucky we are. “We’re lost over here, other than material gain and career and wealth and acclaim, what’s the deeper meaning? We don’t have that.”
He now aims to spread that message through his yoga teaching and has also written a book about his experiences. “My book is about empowering young blokes to step away from what’s expected from them in the areas they grow up in. “I felt like I had to do things to fit in to where I was and the people I was hanging out with.” Alongside his unique take on yoga classes and his book, Liam also hosts his own podcast series where he talks to inspirational people about their journeys and life lessons. The no-nonsense Mancunian says that part of changing things you don’t like about yourself is accepting the challenge. “I’ve had mates who’ve gone through similar things to me and they’ve just turned to booze and not been able to turn their life around.
“There’s nothing anyone can do to make them change things. They have to want to do it themselves and put that rocket up their own backside and get it done. “You have to be open to having your opinion and philosophy changed. Nobody can do the work for you.”
by Adam Maidment
Images by Vincent Cole
“You have to be open to having your opinion and philosophy changed. Nobody can do the work for you.”