mahesh ganeshalingam

Mahesh Ganeshalingam, also known as Mesh, is a parkour teacher in London.

@parkour.roots | +44 7793 727361

Please tell us about how Parkour started and what it means to you?

Parkour originated in France, founded by David Belle, whose dad was in the army, and Sebastian Faucon. Parkour is a French word. It comes from the military obstacle course “Parcours du Combattant”. A group of friends in their local estates would come together and set challenges for each other, as there wasn't much to do - so instead of getting into trouble they would climb a building, or do a big jump. This is how Parkour evolved. For me, it's become a form of self expression. It is about the movements and techniques that you learn and make your own - it's your style, it's your flow, and it's what you want to bring to it. Using techniques that you've learned to create your own expression and to move around your environment.

Why did you choose Parkour?

I grew up in a rough neighbourhood, and as much as I loved it, I didn't have a lot of confidence in myself growing up in that space. I had a low self esteem and I just didn't have a belief in who I was and what I was capable of. I started gaining confidence through dance as I was able to express myself through my body. This transitioned over into Parkour. Through Parkour I was able to exceed my own mental limitations; to believe that I was capable of so much more than my mind was telling me I was capable of.

I'd love to hear your take on the term flow, because nowadays you hear this word quite often?

For me, the flow state is being present without outside distractions or thoughts. Whenever I’m taking on a task or challenge, I need to be completely present. I do this by removing myself from my thoughts, for example, not thinking about what other people think of me, as that takes me away from actually being present in what I'm doing.

Mesh is wearing the KOTTO sweater in Black and the ERME hat in Ocean.

What is a flow in Parkour?

Being in the flow in Parkour is about moving without thinking, flowing with complete presence and no distractions. For me, Parkour is taking yourself away from your ego. It's engaging with your inner self - going inwards and then engaging with that person that is within you.

What do you do in order to be more in a flow state?

I do mental and physical preparation. With Parkour, there will be lots of distractions and people looking at you - you have to be able to start moving within that space without thinking about what you think they think of you. So the best way is just to start moving… and once I start moving, I start warming up, and then mentally I'm more focused because I'm just moving and I'm not thinking about what's going on around me. If I am planning a challenging jump, I need to feel mentally and physically prepared - sometimes you’re not in the right state of mind, and it’s ok not to do the jump. This is how you know if you are present and in a flow state of mind or not.

If you were in a long queue late at night, tired and hungry, how would you help yourself to get into a more flow state of mind?

That's a tricky one because when I'm hungry I get a bit irritable. So I do tell people around me, especially people that are close to me, that I'm hungry and I’m not in the best place right now. A lot of the time, breathing really helps me in challenging situations. I breathe in, hold for a few seconds, and then slowly breathe out - that really calms me down and centres me. I also think about everyone else in the same situation and ask myself what makes me more special than anybody else? Nothing really. I see myself exactly how I see a person in front of me. So I have to have compassion and understanding for other people, rather than bring my problems to them.

How do you share Parkour within your community?

If I'm ever in a negative space I go out and do parkour. I always bring myself back to zero. It's very important for one’s mental health. That is why I wanted to start some community projects. So while I was working in the Police, I started teaching the basics of Parkour to young people from disadvantaged areas. It was more about freedom movement learning, to enable them to understand what they are capable of, and that they have limitless potential they can tap into, that if they can build confidence and shed baggage, they can build this powerful person that you see before you. I struggled with bullying and I wanted to share my experience and the tools of Parkour so that they could transfer these tools into other areas of their lives. For example, overcoming fear.

Please tell us about your project in Hackney?

My vision is to make Parkour classes more accessible to people who cannot afford them, or who don't understand movement and its importance. Parkour builds confidence, resilience, and teamwork. You can work with people of different backgrounds, races, religions, age, size, it doesn't matter. You can all work together. I found a space which is being used negatively, and I would like to clean it and make it into a positive space.

How can somebody support your project?

The majority is about cleaning up the space, preserving the space, and finding materials. I've been collecting disused pallets, pieces of wood and recycled material, rather than trying to buy new things. The environment is very important to me. I have therefore been focussing on recycling, collecting soft plastic and compacting it into mini bricks. I’m aiming to change the space using what we have, rather than keep buying new things.

What does sustainability mean to you?

Sustainability for me is about respect and understanding. Treating people and nature with the respect that they deserve, and not thinking that I have any more importance. Whatever space I am in, I should leave it in a better state. It’s not about thinking that my way is the only way; it’s about understanding that there is more to life.

Mesh is wearing the WIND Jacket in Feather and the ERME hat in Ocean.

How does it feel to wear an OYUNA piece?

It feels really comfortable and warm, and I can freely move in them. Really nice.

What is the most beautiful thing in your life?

The first thing that comes to my mind is my son. He is a person who has inspired me to be a better person. Just thinking about him, I get emotional. He has shown me what love is.

Blue?

Sea

Beauty?

Within.

Softness?

Flow.

Strength?

Vulnerability.

watch mesh's interview here 

To get in touch with mesh - @parkour.roots | +44 7793 727361