In my decades of practicing yoga, I have had the good fortune to learn from many yoga teachers and to explore many yogic philosophical approaches, styles and techniques.
I am incredibly grateful to Yasmin Manji in Calgary, Alberta. Yasmin was my primary yoga teacher from the spring of 1990 to the autumn of 2000 when I moved to Victoria, British Columbia. Yasmin’s classes provided (and continue to provide, as she is still teaching Mondays to Thursdays and Saturday mornings in Calgary) a “smorgasbord” of all facets of yoga, from pranayama, asanas, meditation, relaxation and yoga philosophy, all enriched by her personal quest for continuous learning and sharing. Her classes challenged and rejuvenated us, and she amused us with her personal stories and what we came to call her “Yasminisms” (i.e. “What is a minute in your life?”, as you were holding a particularly difficult pose). She created that first feeling of belonging to a “yoga family”, as our group of regular yoga students grew to know, care about and trust one another through shared experiences and partner yoga.
One of the aspects of her classes that I liked the most was that she always took us outside for at least part of our yoga class whenever possible. I recall doing pranayama and meditation around a beautiful blossoming crabapple tree in springtime, successfully mastering Headstands initially with the aid of the trunks of various trees, enjoying the sound, smell and feel of the rain cooling the prairie heat while we did yoga in a roofed open area just outside the Provident Development School where Yasmin offered her amazing two hour long classes.
Yasmin inspired me to commit to a daily yoga practice and to be open to explore all aspects of and approaches to yoga. She took me and other students to our first weekend yoga retreat at the Blue Lake Centre, exposed our class to Raja Yoga (now called Yasodhara Yoga), and brought in guest teachers to do workshops (including Lilias Folan, whose books and TV yoga classes provided a lifeline to yoga when I lived in remote parts of Canada that did not offer yoga classes back in the 1970s and 80s). One of Yasmin’s favourite sayings is, “Yoga never leaves you.”, and she is so correct. I think of her fondly every time I teach and practice yoga, and many other times as well.
I am also deeply appreciative of master yogi and blissologist, Eoin Finn, my Yoga Teacher Training teacher. Eoin excels in his ability to help others reach their full potential as yogis/yoginis while practicing safely. He instills confidence in his YTT students and supports them in being authentic, skilful and practical. Eoin offers a style of yoga sorely needed in the 21st Century and beyond. Eoin’s approach reflects his deep understanding of yoga philosophy and history, his knowledge of human psychology and physiology, his appreciation of nature, and his zest for life, love, kindness and happiness.
Among the many Victoria yoga teachers from whom I’ve learned so much during my sojourn in Victoria, I especially appreciate the influence of:
- Michelle Schroeder, was the first yoga teacher whose classes I attended in Victoria (besides a few Iyengar classes at the Y). She was also my husband Ian’s very first yoga teacher. Michelle set the bar very high in terms of yoga as not only a physical practice, but a spiritually enriching one;
- Jenni Pritchard at Yoga Shala, was recommended to me by Yasmin Manji after they attended a workshop together. Jenni warmly welcomed us to workshops on acro yoga, partner yoga and yoga nidra, as well as to many classes when we practiced Ashtanga Yoga more regularly;
- Meagan Tomlinson, first inspired us with her grace, depth and peace at the Vic West Y. We followed her to the Esquimalt Recreation Centre, then to her own studio, West Side Yoga, formerly in Esquimalt. We still attend her classes occasionally at Island Pilates in Courtenay, and her workshops at Moksana Yoga Centre when she visits Victoria;
- Liz Zdunich of Namaste Inspired Athletics, was the first yogi in Victoria that we met who was willing to take yoga outdoors (Hallelujah!!!) in summer with her “yoga in the park” and “yoga in the sky” events, as well as indoors to the magical retreat centre at Sleeping Dog Farm;
- Tara Nargang, completely enthralled us with her willingness to help students find a solid foundation and then guide them to find their highest potential in peak poses like handstands. We first discovered Tara at Pearkes Recreation Centre, then followed her to Thrive Yoga Studio in Fernwood. Tara opened up the world of Anusara Yoga and mindful flow to us, as well as other influential yoga teachers, including Johnathon Boyd, Christine Lee and Natalie Rousseau; and
- Mia Blackwell, first entered our lives when she taught at Yoga Shala the most amazing couples workshops on how to do Thai Yoga Massage. She later invited me to teach yoga at her studio, Metta in Motion in Esquimalt.
Special mention needs to go to the Saltspring Centre for Yoga on Salt Spring Island. Ian and I began attending the centre’s yoga getaway weekends in September 2006. Those experiences deepened my yoga practice. It was during these yoga getaways that I first formulated a desire to someday take yoga teacher training.
I also acknowledge the many other yoga teachers who have influenced and inspired me. From the first class I took at the Kitchener YM/YWCA when I was still in high school from an Iyengar instructor of East Indian descent, to the classes I enjoy today in Victoria and elsewhere, all have enriched my personal yoga practice, and thus, my life. I’ve listed many of my teachers below, as well as some of the yoga studios and other venues where I have taken yoga classes. Although I don’t recall the names of all of the yoga teachers whose teaching have helped me on my yoga journey, I hope my gratitude reaches them somehow.
- Johnathon Boyd
- Sharada Filkow, Saltspring Centre for Yoga
- Lillias Folan
- Saraswati Glenda Garcia, Saltspring Centre for Yoga
- Anastasia Hangemanole, formerly of WestSide Yoga, now teaching part time in Victoria
- Jillian Lang, formerly of WestSide Yoga, now Breathing Fire Yoga
- Christine Lee
- Shreema Mukerji, retired from teaching, most recently at Pearkes Recreation Centre
- Penny Janaki Polden, Saltspring Centre for Yoga
- Natalie Rousseau, Pacific Elements
- Lynn Swift, formerly in Banff, Alberta and now in Colorado
- Andrea Kalpana Tabachnick, Saltspring Centre for Yoga
- Angeline Tillmanns
- Carolyn Whittaker, formerly of WestSide Yoga, now teaching at Metta in Motion in Esquimalt
- Gary Wong
- Karen Zebroff – from her books
List of Yoga studios
- Ajna Yoga Studio, Victoria
- Hemma Yoga Studio, Victoria
- Iyengar Yoga Centre of Victoria
- Metta in Motion, Esquimalt
- Moksha Yoga Victoria
- Moksana Yoga Centre, Victoria
- Rhada Yoga Centre, Victoria
- Taproot Yoga, Revelstoke
- Thrive Yoga Studio, Victoria
- Westside Yoga Studio, formerly in Esquimalt
- Yoga Shala Victoria
- Burnside Gorge Community Centre, Victoria
- Esquimalt Recreation Centre
- Vic West Community Centre, Victoria
- Pearkes Recreation Centre, Saanich
- Victoria YM/YWCA, Victoria