I always find it fascinating how people find their way to yoga. Now that I have my own forum, I thought I would share my story with you. This is my path into yoga…
I first discovered yoga when my daughter, Nicole, was born in 1995. I have always been an active person, studying dance and gymnastics when I was young, but gave up on that type of movement after university. I continued with other more limiting forms of exercise, like running, skiing, hiking, etc. and felt good, but I started to feel the typical aches and pains of a 30-year-old runner that sat at a computer for much of the day. My first venture into yoga was at a mom-and-baby get together with friends. One of the mothers had her sister come and teach a class for us.
I was hooked after that first class. The light bulb went on; actually it exploded. I knew from that one experience yoga would be part of my life. I began taking classes in Ashtanga yoga twice a week, loving the way I felt after each class. I would walk home feeling taller, stronger and more self-assured than I had ever felt in my life. I felt like a peaceful warrior.
Of course, I did not really understand or resonate with the more spiritual aspects of yoga until later on in my studies. Like most athletes, I was in it for the strength and physical prowess that this form of yoga offered. I remember having trouble understanding Savasana, thinking that it was a waste of time to sit and do nothing! It took a few months to get comfortable and allow my mind to relax as peacefully as my body. However, once that transition took place the second light bulb went off. I then realized that yoga can be mentally transforming, not just physically.
When I moved from downtown Toronto to Thornhill, I found my mentor. Fern Morrison lived up the street from me and in her classes I blossomed as a yogi. Her knowledge of the eight limbs of yoga inspired me and made me into the person, student, and teacher that I am today. It was with her prodding that I became a teacher. “You can do it,” she told me one day when one of her former students was looking for a substitute to teach her class. “It is in your body,” she said.
I guess she was right because that became the catalyst for my career change from freelance writer/desktop publisher to yoga instructor. I loved that by teaching I could pass on the knowledge that I had accumulated. It felt incredible sharing my love and passion for yoga with others. I quickly enrolled in the teacher training program at Esther Myers Yoga, a two year, 700-hour program that covered philosophy, anatomy, lifestyle and ethics, internship, pranayama and asana techniques, as well as teaching skills. If I was going to become a teacher I was going to make a full commitment.
Esther, Monica Voss and Paulo di Paolo were valuable teachers. Although their method of yoga was different than what I had been studying (the Scarvalli method as opposed to Ashtanga yoga) their wisdom and knowledge, as well as their flexibility to accept my background, helped me grow as a teacher.
A lot of the way I approach yoga today is still through Esther’s eyes. She brought home the message that much of our suffering is due to a lack of flexibility, not so much the physical aspect of it, but more so of the mind. I truly believe that if we took this message to heart we would all be so much happier.
I received my FOYT (now YNofC) certification and Yoga Alliance registration (RYT 500) so that I could continue on the path of learning. I still take regular bi-weekly classes and attend several workshops (including Ashtanga Level 1 certification, Children’s Yoga, Yoga for Athletes, Yoga Anatomy Therapy, Mindfulness and Meditation classes, etc.) throughout the year to keep my teaching and personal practice well honed.
I was very lucky to begin teaching soon after I graduated from Esther’s program in 2003. I began teaching classes at the Garnett Williams Centre and the Thornhill CC both located in Thornhill. I opened my own studio in 2009 and have not looked back. I am still teaching children and teen classes through Richmond Hill Parks and Recreation department as well as a few private classes in and around the GTA, but my home classes are my favourite.
Opening up my home studio has been a dream come true. As much as I loved teaching at the community centres, the classes were so large. Being able to focus on a few students at a time is so much more rewarding.
It has been a few years now that my studio has been in operation, and each year it gets better. I’m lucky to be surrounded by a group of students who are passionate and enthusiastic about yoga and all around lovely people. We have a great time together in class. New students are always greeted with warmth and made to feel like part of our KULA (community) right away. I’m very blessed.