300 hour Hatha Yoga Teacher
100 hour Jivamukti Yoga Teacher
My yoga practice, like me, was born in the north. I have practiced and taught yoga in many places, but always with the intention of returning home to the north to share what I’ve learned.
My first yoga teaching gig was in Montreal in 2011. I had just completed 300 hours of yoga teacher training, and was determined to “make it” as a yoga teacher. I approached every studio within a 10km radius of my house, but the only place that would let me teach was the downtown YMCA and only if I taught for free and…in French! I spoke passable French, but had certainly never spoken in French to a room full of people. Fortunately, all yoga poses have Sanskrit names, so I could get away with my limited French vocabulary by describing the poses using their Sanskrit names. Somehow, I managed to keep that volunteer job for 18 months, in spite of my limited French and limited experience teaching yoga. From that volunteer job in Montreal, I learned a lot of Sanskrit words!
After Montreal, I moved to Whistler where I started practicing with Erin Anderson at White Gold Yoga, a Baptiste-style studio. All power yoga, all the time: sweaty asana practice, constant physical challenge and handstands throughout the practice. I loved it! Eventually, I started teaching at White Gold Yoga and embraced the assertive and demanding style of teaching that this type of practice required. Practicing and teaching in the Baptiste style taught me a lot about using clear language to teach, challenging students to push their limits and how to use yoga as a tool to eliminate mental clutter. The motto of the studio is “live big,” and their ethos is to inspire everyone to have a dream and make it happen. Inspired by the crew at White Gold, I started a yoga blog: www.yogauttara.com The blog posts come in fits and starts; some weeks I’m full of ideas and other times months will go by with no posts at all. I know that a successful blog requires daily or weekly updates and I’ll get there. For now, I’m proud that the blog is live and available for my students to peruse. From WhiteGold Yoga, I learned that sweaty, powerful yoga can clear the mental clutter and make space for me to realize my dreams.
In November 2014, I relocated to Chamonix, France for a winter. There I stumbled upon a tiny Ashtanga yoga studio, where I faithfully practiced six days per week for five months. I was new to a formal Ashtanga practice, but I enjoyed the discipline that the practice required. I appreciated the repetition of poses and I respected the history of the practice. The studio was simple: no music, no art, no fuss. Just a group of students and their yoga mats, practicing with Hamsa, studio owner. His adherence to the strict tenets of the Ashtanga lineage inspired awe and respect in me. He never deviated from the structure of the series and he taught the same sequence almost every day. Day in, day out, he was there, patiently guiding his students through the ancient ashtanga series and never needing to add his own creative spin to the sequence. From Hamsa, I learned that yoga is a practice of patience and longevity.
The most recent development in my yoga journey is a 100-hour certification in the Jivamukti style from Loka Yoga in Whistler, BC. Tina Pashumati James taught me that yoga can be about something. The discipline required for a yoga practice can be applied to a cause or a lifestyle that the yogi believes in. “Stand up for what you believe in,” she would say as all her faithful students rose up to a tall Tadasana (mountain pose). Tina believes that yogis, through the benefit of their practice, have the power to stimulate and change the world. The intention is the focal point of any practice and is solidified in the conscience by moving through a series of physical poses. Yoga is movement linked with breath, guided by an intention. From my training with Tina, I learned that the real benefit of a yoga practice is the setting of intention.
All my journeys to yoga studios have always been interspersed with long stays in Yellowknife. The north is my home and my great love. The power of this land is defined by longevity, solitude, stillness and silence. It is these qualities that define my yoga practice. Here in the north, I teach a powerful practice that draws inspiration from the long ashtanga lineage. I consider yoga to be a deeply personal practice where we learn to sit in stillness and solitude. Finally, I usually teach without music because I believe that the meditative quality of the practice can best be achieved with silence.
So have I “made it” as a yoga teacher? I’ve learned a lot since my very first job in Montreal, but like anything, the more I learn, the less I realize I know. Yoga in its many iterations is something that I love to share with my students. But beyond the power, the physical challenge, the history, the intention, my yoga practice is always inspired by the land which I call home: the Taiga. Taiga Yoga Studio is where I first found yoga, where I found a following of students who choose to come to my classes (thank you), and where I have practiced and taught the most. I consider myself an information scavenger: I go out into the world to learn what I can about the practice and then return home to Taiga the land and Taiga the studio to share my knowledge. I feel so lucky to be able to practice and teach at Taiga Yoga and I look forward to sharing my practice with anyone who wishes to unroll their mat with me.