My original aspirations were very far removed from both teaching and education. After what looked like a successful foot in the modelling and acting world, I obtained a degree in Theatre Performance. My passion to become an actress grew from the big dream to feeling desperate, estranged and with an eating disorder. At 25 years old, and after spending a few years waitressing and auditioning for many acting gigs I never got, I made a life-altering decision to go to South Korea to work as an English teacher. It was in Korea where I began to teach yoga as something new to try.
It was 1995.
At the time, I had no academic background in teaching. I also had no knowledge of yoga. But it felt right and being in Korea was where the healing of my life truly began.
When I returned to Canada, I embarked on certified training programs at the Sivananda ashrams. I still consider Sivananda my first teacher and made my way to India to learn more. For me, learning and teaching are intrinsically linked. As an adult student, I returned to university; obtaining a Masters of Education while also working as a teacher in the Toronto school private sector. My thesis dissertation was on Yoga for children in India. During the research, I sat on the floor, ate with my hands and worked closely with many Indian families. As a guest speaker, I have shared this work at York University, the University of Toronto, McGill and at the International Association of Yoga Therapists in Los Angeles.
By far, the most pivotal shift along my path was studying directly under Pattabhi Jois in Mysore in 2000. Practice was at 4:30 a.m. I was one of only a few other students in the shala. It was my 2nd trip to India and I stayed for 3 months.
I quickly accelerated in my practice but faced a severe injury. Tending to my knee, I used to go to the finishing room (a room only meant for the closing series) to practice back bending. Students used to wonder who taught me, but it was spontaneous. Ironically, it was my injury that led to more formal training of back bending. I studied back bending, the scriptures and many yogic techniques including breath control for well over a decade.
True to life, however, the path is not straight, with an inherent end to all things. I eventually left my former teacher and including Ashtanga Yoga. Fast forward a few years later and after a miscarriage at 10 weeks in 2011 and giving birth in 2013, my practice changed again. I meet with and began studying under Yogacharya Vinay Kumar; the founder and teacher of Prana Vashya.
Looking back, the teacher I had and the practice was no longer sustainable. I had to step back to move forward and sought out formal studies of meditation. After a chance meeting with Swami Veda Bharati in 2009, I underwent silent retreats at the Sadhaka Grama Dyhana ashram in Rishikesh and received initiation with a personal mantra. My self-seeking also lead me to teachers such as Dipa in Kolkata (the daughter of the late Dipa Ma) and to meeting Shri BNS Iyengar in Mysore. I had heard about Guruji when I first began studying in Mysore. He was understood as being a true, great philosopher and it was said, “If you want to meet God,” then go to Guruji. I have since received the direct teachings of pranayama and philosophy under his guiding light.
Becoming a mother is, however, the greatest change to my practice and life. What was once a very competitive, intense and personal practice grew into a more measured and balanced one.
When the heart of real yoga is kindness and patience, it is my little boy who teaches me this daily.
Words cannot convey what it means to me to be a mother other than to say it is full of joy, challenges and perennial lessons.