Ex-Hacienda DJ sets up yoga studio in West Hampstead after years in ‘vortex of excess’
- Credit: Archant
He was a DJ at Manchester’s notorious Hacienda nightclub, good mates with Johnny Marr and on nodding terms with Noel Gallagher – but Matt Ryan ditched the “vortex of excess” for clean living and yoga mastery.
After “living like a bat” for much of the ‘90s, Matt hit rock-bottom when he spent four days in psychiatric care to be treated for an anxiety disorder he says was exacerbated by drink, drugs and debauchery.
In a dramatic conversion from extravagant sinner to abstemious ascetic, Matt hung up his headphones and exchanged Manchester for Mysore, where he was taught yoga by Indian masters.
Now the 48-year-old dad of four – who spent last year in LA and has tutored the likes of Damon Albarn, Russell Brand, Liberty Roth, Mani from the Stone Roses and Everton Football Club – has set up a yoga studio in West Hampstead.
He told the Ham&High: “You easily get sucked into that vortex of excess in the music industry – it turns into bad things.
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“House music and ecstasy are a powerful force when they go together. I was living like a bat and I really needed to pull back.”
But when he was diagnosed with depersonalisation disorder – the feeling that you are not real, which Matt branded “hell on earth” – he abandoned even small indulgences like caffeine and ultimately took up yoga.
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“Someone I knew recommended it and, like most men, I was just like, ‘You what?’, Matt said.
“I thought it was some sort of practice for women in church.”
He added: “The first class I took nearly killed me – but I threw myself into it, and it really feeds off energy.
“After a while I packed in the DJing and went off to India.”
When he came back to Manchester, he started off his own yoga company and used his promotional nous to make it a success.
Matt said: “When I first started it off, everyone was like, ‘What you doing, d***head? Now they’re saying, ‘Yoga – I’ll have a bit of that’.
“Johnny [Marr, guitarist with The Smiths] said I’d become ‘cosmic’. But I’m still a normal bloke, really.”
Until September of 2016, he lived in Venice, LA with his wife Lina, but the sunshine “got very boring” and in the end he was “crying out for some rain”.
“It was a difficult time,” he said. “I made about three friends the whole year I was there – it’s a strange place.
“I saw the Trump thing unravelling in front of my eyes, so I’m glad I left.
“But in the end we had to leave – my wife got pregnant and we had to pay £3k for three hospital visits. It wasn’t possible.”
On Monday, Matt opened his West Hampstead studio in Broadhurst Gardens – where he promises to provide no-nonsense, intimate bitesize yoga classes for people of all levels.
He said: “I like to keep it real. I don’t stand about wafting incense or anything.
“I’m doing this because it sorted me right out, it had a great effect on my mind and my body.
“When you’re doing yoga, you’re less likely to want a doner kebab or a pint of bitter – not that they are necessarily bad things.”
To go along to one of Matt’s classes, visit: yogalondonclub.co.uk