Life isn’t always about aiming for the top of the corporate ladder. Sometimes, life shows you a different path from the one you have chosen. The key to success, in my opinion, is being true to yourself. Only then can you be an inspiration to others and help guide them along their own paths to beauty and grace. I am truly humbled by the opportunities that have been bestowed upon me – by the opportunities to play a meaningful role in other people’s lives and to help provide a place of nourishment and nurturing for all who come this way.
I first fell in love with yoga at the tender age of 12. Growing up in North Bay, Ontario didn’t give me a lot of opportunity to explore this ancient art through the more traditional types of yoga instruction. Instead, I set out on a path of discovery via a series of tapes and books that I borrowed from the library. I spent a lot of time listening to intimidating old men from India. But there was something about yoga – right from the get go – that struck a chord in me.
Looking back today, at age 40, I had no idea that yoga would change my life to the extent that it has, that it would help shape me into the person I have become. Yoga became my strength; it became a way of living life with truth and grace. Through yoga, I would be able to conquer medical hardship. And better yet, yoga would enable me to help others achieve their own inner grace and truth.
A Life Of Teaching
Like my grandfather, my father and my husband, I was raised in a world of athleticism. Through hard work and determination, I would eventually be able to compete as an international world-class athlete. I had a lot of coaches and instructors along the way who constantly told me what to do and how to do it better. Yoga was the one thing that I could do that was just me. No one else had a say in it.
As I pursued a Bachelors Degree of Education and worked toward my Masters, I continued to practice yoga and to take instruction from recognized experts in the field. After graduation, I went into teaching. But over the years, yoga become a much more important part of my life. I never saw myself as a yoga instructor. It was always a very private thing, a joyful, pleasant way of unwinding. I never dreamt about opening my own yoga studio or having to hire other instructors to help keep up with class demand. But that’s exactly what happened.
It was a very scary step when I decided to give up my career as a school teacher. I did it not because I didn’t love teaching anymore, but because I had a deeper sense of gratitude in being able to help people and their families in a more organic way through yoga. I still bring the formal way of teaching and the lessons I learned to every class but I do so in a personal and nurturing way that I hope strikes a chord with every student in the class.
Studio Bliss began with a small, 1,200 square foot space but has since blossomed into a beautiful 3,000 square foot “home” located in a historic building in Barrie, Ontario. We have 10 instructors, including me, and deliver a total of more than 40 classes a week – morning, noon and evening. We also host our own school of yoga and are affiliated through the International Yoga Federation and the Canadian Yoga Alliance as a certified school of instruction for yoga.
Every day when I come into the studio, I continue to be amazed at how it has become a home to such a wonderful and loving group of people. I am totally surprised at its success and am so happy that people can feel part of this community and fellowship and can have the opportunity to grow, to change, and to be together in a place of love and support. I have so much gratitude for being able to be here every day and for helping others live a life of truth, love and grace.
I was recently moved to tears, and felt so blessed, when one of the ladies attending our classes said that this was the only place she felt comfortable after losing a friend. Being able to provide that sense of community and support is, to me, what yoga is all about.
A Family Of Support
Of course, opening a yoga studio and being able to help others achieve a beauty and grace in their life would not have been possible were it not for my husband David, my son Matthew, and my parents and siblings. My husband and I complement each other. I would describe David and I as two birch trees looking together out into the forest rather than as looking at each other. Healing is a huge part of David’s life as a paramedic. Recently, he resigned from his work as a firefighter because he feels so much gratitude in being able to help people in the immediacy of a situation.
Matthew, who just turned six, has also accepted yoga as a way of life. He really lives it all of the time. I sometimes find him in the backyard on his yoga mat or sitting on his bed chanting. His cute little light is very strong and I am thrilled to see the same gentleness of my husband echoed in my son.
Yoga is all about truth and integrity, about being who you are. It is also an integral part of me and my family. It’s infused throughout our whole life. It’s how I wake and how I go to sleep.
Looking back, I don’t think I could have gotten through the competition of being on a stage of world-class athletes without yoga. Nor could I have battled – and continue to battle – a rare form of cancer that struck at age 28. I was able to see my battle with cancer as a cloud with a silver lining in that it really made me aware of what’s important in life, pushing me to do things that I would normally have put off. For me, my battles with cancer are like slaying that dragon of fear and seeing others around you grow.
Being True To Yourself
Opening a yoga studio and founding a community from which to nurture truth, love and grace is not something that can be done without fear. Neither is following your own truth and pursuing your own goals. I believe that yoga teaches us to be true to ourselves and to overcome that fear.
It’s about looking fear in the face and taking a leap of faith to keep moving forward – and I am a ‘forward’ type of girl. Although I realize that being the owner, founder and bathroom cleaner of the studio means taking a step back to run the business, I also know that I never want to lose that personal touch with the students. They are the ones who give back and show me that yoga is all about truth and love and letting your light shine.
Looking ahead, my true business model is to get as much yoga out there as possible. I am so grateful to be able to be a part of this.