Readers of Vancity Buzz love yoga. I see it on my twitter feed all the time and it’s not just the ladies. So we thought what better way to bring more awareness about Yoga to the masses then by having a weekly segment. So readers welcome Sharan of Yoga on the Flow who will be blogging weekly on all things yoga!
As a yoga teacher and practitioner I am often asked what style of yoga I teach, what styles I have tried out, which is my favourite, etc. This post is the explanation to my response: “Yoga is Yoga.”
I have been doing yoga since I was 9 years old with my father. He never claimed a style of yoga, rolled out a mat, explained pranayama, or listed off the benefits of doing meditation; we simply did yoga. At the age of 15, I decided to explore the world of yoga outside my home and took my first yoga class without my dad. I can’t remember exactly what the class was called but it was definitely something along the lines of “Flow” yoga. At the time I didn’t think too much of it or ask any questions. Over the next 5 years I continued to practice with my dad and every now and then went to a drop in yoga class. In 2009, I moved to the beautiful city of Vancouver. Everywhere I looked people were wearing yoga clothes, carrying around yoga mats and walking in or out of a yoga studio. It was yoga heaven!
Anyhow, I digress for now. Coming from a work and educational background in addictions and poverty, it was natural for me to find a job working with the Downtown Eastside population. The facility in which I worked at offered Yoga Therapy to our mental health and addiction clients. This was my first introduction to this “style” of Yoga and after seeing the positive impact it had on my DTES lovelies, I dove into Yoga Therapy head first! After some guidance from the on-site Yoga Therapist, Nicole Marcia of Fine Balance Yoga, I decided to finally make the leap from practitioner to teacher. Becoming a Yoga teacher was not a seed that was planted in my head as a young girl and grew over the years, it was just love at first sight with Yoga Therapy – I had found my calling.
My web research on Yoga Teacher Trainings in Vancouver (aka Yoga Heaven) turned up a lot of results, as you can probably imagine! While sifting through the search results, I found Maggie Reagh of Yoga Therapy Vancouver, which had just become a Registered Yoga School and was offering a Yoga Therapy Teacher Training (RYT 200). Naturally, I enrolled! One of the first things I was asked when filling out the enrollment form was “What style of yoga have you practiced?” Huh? I do Yoga!? Quickly, I called my dad to ask him what kind of Yoga he had been teaching me? He replied “Dear, yoga is yoga.”
For a really long time I felt like I knew nothing about yoga. When someone said Hot Yoga, Kundalini, Salamaba Sarvangasana I didn’t know what they were talking about. I only visually knew what the poses were and I felt lost in this world of yoga that I thought I was very much a part of. When people would ask me how long I had been practicing yoga for I all of a sudden started discounting the years practiced with my father and would reply 2 years?! And so came a long talk with my dad about all of this discouragement and self doubt. I was too much into my head, and it took my dad to remind me that yoga comes from within – I finally got out of my head and back into my body.
My dad grew up in India. Not in the cities you’ve seen on TV, but in a village in Punjab. The people in the villages who practice yoga simply call it Yoga. It is something embedded into their education system and practiced at home with their families. They do not pay much attention to what the name is of the pose they are doing or what “style” they are practicing; it is just something they do because it’s therapeutic for their mind, body and spirit. No one told them the benefits of practicing yoga, they learned it from their greatest teacher – their body. Yoga is intuitive. Simply put, it is important to practice yoga. Whatever the style may be, you will reap the benefits because at the end of the day Yoga is Yoga!