‘Scouse Guru’ taking over Liverpool with yoga and meditation

A former tennis coach from Childwall has transformed himself into the 'Scouse Guru' – and now teaches meditation and yoga to thousands of people across the city.

Martin Bone has spent long periods of time in both Mexico and Thailand, training in meditation, yoga and mindfulness, and runs Planet Yoga on Smithdown Road.

Earlier this year, the dad-of-one, 36, launched his new app called 'Scouse Guru', a "library of self-development" for people in Liverpool to embrace the art, to run alongside his firm Martin Bone Meditation.

Martin, who was a tennis coach at David Lloyd Leisure for 12 years, said: "I came to a place in my life where I had hit that many tennis balls, that I was searching for something – the meaning of life. Asking the big questions: 'who am I? and where am I going, what's my purpose?'

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"From a very young age, I was searching for the meaning of life, asking is there a God, and who is God.

"Spirituality is a matter of aligning yourself to your own truth and being present – seeing the moment as it is. The practice of meditation has allowed me to feed into a deeper connection to something which is godly within me."

Leaving tennis, he took a "brave step away" to go travelling, and ended up in Thailand for four months.

"I had this incredible call just to sit still. Life was incredibly fast for many years. I took a trip to this wonderful meditation centre. where I spent 10 days with monks.

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"It was the first time I had ever really tasted a direct experience of peacefulness and stillness and contentment and it was a wonderful experience."

Soon after arriving back in Liverpool in 2013, he opened Planet Yoga studio on Smithdown Road.

He said: "What came of it was a completely different life, different people, connections and community different conversations and hell of a lot of yoga.

"In that process I really started to feel into my own journey. I started to take a look in the mirror. The human experience was always fascinating me. I wanted to know why people behaved in a certain way."

Martin then began running 10-day silent retreats at a meditation centre in Hereford – "diving into spirituality, doing seminars and workshops – it was an incredible experience".

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He wanted to take his experience further, and in 2016 travelled to Mexico to spend four months at a meditation school on the Pacific Coast.

He added: "It was a very intensive experience, and I came back from Mexico a man. There had a been a rite of passage, an initiation into mature masculinity."

That led Martin to want to teach meditation to people in Liverpool, and he said already having a platform with Yoga Planet was hugely beneficial.

Martin told the ECHO: "I'm ahead of the curve. Meditation and mindfulness has been a buzz word for a number of years. It's now becoming trendy to develop oneself and to feed into self care. Very quickly, the numbers increased for my sessions."

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He said more and more Scousers are taking to meditation, and he is inundated with new clients. He's taught 1,500 people in the city to meditate over the last few years, and said: "There's definitely a big demand for it.

"I feel as if I'm bridging the gap for a lot of Scousers. I'm just a normal Scouser myself. I still have a pint, I still eat pizza, and I'm a family man.

"Meditation can be boring and passive, but my superpower is delivery. I'm making it relatable, making it digestable and fun, applying it to day-to-day life situations.

"I'm getting such a buzz out of seeing people use this practice and apply it to their daily life.

Martin Bone

"I'm pretty well known throughout the city – I feel like I'm becoming a public figure here. People have been watching my journey from afar and they watched how I developed and changed as a person.

"Low and behold, after a couple of years teaching people in Liverpool, I was fully booked months in advance."

Part of his aspiration to go into meditation was a few of his male friends who had taken their own lives, and he now runs men-only five-day retreats to the Peak District.

"I've lived life in liverpool. I've been on the streets and I'm very streetwise. There are a lot of lads now who are seeing that it's okay to be vulnerable.

"Suicide rates are up, mental health is up, domestic violence is up. so it's like 'what's really going on here?'

"I wanted to start holding space for men who are vulnerable, to get them talking openly in group sessions.

"I'm putting these mindfulness concepts into Scouse terms so people can understand it."

He launched the app 'Scouse Guru' during the lockdown, with the vision to teach people in Liverpool how to meditate, and educate as many people as possible how to be happy, strong and holy.

The 'Scouse Guru' app

He described it as a "library of self-development, meditation, tutorials and breath work sessions", adding: "I'm hitting every angle with the meditation journey but making it very fun for people here in Liverpool.

"I've had a lot of success straight away and we've built up a good subscription numbers. The goal for me is to open up a centre of excellence in Liverpool – a meditation centre in the heart of Sefton Park.

"It's a grander vision to leave a legacy here, and to get everyone meditating."

He said with a global pandemic, meditation is "more important now than ever".

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He said: "There are so many people struggling with mental health and depression and it's because people don't know how to navigate the mind.

"My job is to help people train themselves. It's all about education, what meditating is, how to do it and why you would want to do it.

"A lot of people are afraid of uncertainty and like to know where they're going and a lot of people are psychologically overthinking.

"The beauty of meditation is to start understanding the themes of the way you think."