My Love Affair with Yoga

I was first introduced to Yoga when I was 18. My mum was taking an Iyengar class with a teacher who taught in her beautiful home and one day she asked me to go along with her. I had a few months off before I came to the U.S. to start university, so I was looking for something to do. I can’t say that I fell in love with Yoga right off the bat, but the seed was planted. I didn’t have a lot of body awareness at the time, and I didn’t notice any dramatic physical or mental changes, but then again I was 18 and all I could think about was flying the coup.

In my second year of university, I shared an apartment with a couple of roommates. I had settled into a routine at school, and my schedule of classes and working at the library kept me busy. My friends and I spent a lot of time hanging out at the local Borders Books and Music store, as I was always looking for new music to listen to. It was during one of these trips to the bookstore that I came across a Gaiam Yoga mat. And then there were the VHS tapes… yes, VHS! I picked up a very basic intro to Yoga with Patricia Walden, along with a Yoga mat (which I still have to this day), and I was good to go. The tape was a simple introduction to a few basic asanas like Tadasana, Paschimottanasana, and Janu Sirsasana. Yoga seemed easy enough and my next round of tapes were Rodney Yee’s ‘Yoga for Strength’, ‘Yoga for Flexibility’, and 'AM/PM Yoga'. That’s when I was hooked, even though I didn’t quite understand all the benefits of a Yoga practice. I had a morning routine of a 20-minute Tae Bo workout, followed by a 20-minute Yoga practice. Yes, an odd combination, but even to this day I love to run or do a high-intensity workout and finish with a calming Yoga practice.

After university, I moved to Toronto, Canada, and I had a very on again/off again relationship with Yoga. I was busy trying to establish myself in the film industry and festival circuit  in Toronto. Yoga was the farthest thing from my mind and I had never taken a studio class, even though I lived around the corner from one of the best studios in the city, The Yoga Sanctuary.

I took my first studio class during my post-graduate studies. The school I went to offered an evening series of Hatha classes and during these classes I realized how weak and out of shape I was. I’ve always had terrible stamina - I had never played sports growing up, and was easily winded. After my post-grad course, I moved back into the city and joined the Sivananda Yoga center. And that was when I fell in LOVE.  I took their Yoga 1, 2 and 3 courses, which was an in-depth study of asanas and the series in which they should be done for maximum benefit. They taught in a set series: standing postures followed by seated postures, inversions and a head stand before melting into sivasana. Sivananda Yoga was also my first introduction to Pranayama. We were taught different Pranayama practices like Kapalbhati and Nadi Shodhana - and I started to feel the benefits of having a breathing practice in my hectic life. This is also when I learned the proper technique of practising an unassisted handstand, and it took me a few months to get it, but I was on top of the world when I did get up into my first handstand. I now had a steady home practice and will always be grateful to the Sivananda Yoga center for giving me that knowledge.

A few months later, inspired by all my teachers at the Sivananda center, the thought of teacher training crept into my mind. I did my research and enrolled in The Yoga Sanctuary’s YTT (Yoga teacher training) program, which was an Ashtanga based, 200-hr course. I met the loveliest people during my training, whom I keep in touch with to this day, and gained the confidence to go out and teach.

After YTT, I worked at a couple of wonderful studios in the greater Toronto area and that’s when I decided that Yoga was the legacy I wanted to leave behind. Now, I’m still a student first and I have a long ways to go in my own practice. With each of my pregnancies, I was thrown back to square one, as I was dealing with a new body and had to re-learn how to use it. I was incredibly weak after having my kids, but with a slow steady practice of Yoga and running, I was able to build up my strength again. I still maintain a consistent home practice and frequent different studios when I can. My goal for the next few years is to complete my 500-hr advanced YTT certification. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to do a Vinyasa jump through, fly into a handstand, or attain Samadhi, but I’m certainly going to try. Trying is the first step, and believing in yourself is the second. The rest just happens.

“Do your practice and all is coming” - Sri K. Pattabhi Jois