From small-town poet to full-time yoga teacher

My yoga journey

Hi, Asia here. If we’ve never met, this post is for you to learn moreĀ about me – as a yoga teacher, and just as me. This is my story of taking roads less traveled, and it actually making the difference. Maybe the kind of difference you’re also seeking.Ā 

Where I started

Lookin’ out my back door.

I grew up in a tiny rig-town in rural Alberta. The winters would get to -40C and the snow drifts would come up to my armpits. My favourite time was (and is) summer, when I could go camping, hiking, scree-sliding, rock climbing, kayaking – anywhere in the Rockies. It’s a good life having Banff, Jasper, Lake Louise and heaps of unnamed mountain ranges in your back yard.

At eight years old, I became a published poet. I got it in my head to send a poem I’d written to the University of Alberta English Department. The publishers likely thought it was adorable, so they printed it in their faculty newsletter and sent me a few copies. I felt so damn famous.

When I was 14, I smuggled medical supplies into Vietnam with Samaritan’s Purse. At 17, I left home to work deck crew on a “Mercy Ship” which went along the east coast of Africa providing medical aid to war-torn areas. I’d sing on the streets for money whenever the ship docked. Ahh, the ideals of youth.

Cleaning oil tanks on the M/V Anastasis by climbing *inside* them with a scraper and pail. Pretty sure an air hose shoved through the port wasn’t to safety code standards.

How I discovered yoga

Undergrad was like a dream for me. I took a liberal arts degree with no sense of practicality, where I swung freely from Modern Lit and Anthropology to Astrophysics and Neuroscience. Here’s where I learned feminism, deep space spectrometry, e.e. cummings, – and yoga.

By this time I’d spent a few years obsessed with lifting weights. The gym was my habitat – as much as a lifting gym back then could be for a woman. I was also trying anything I never had in my small town growing up. First up: Martial Arts.

My first class

The fall of my first year I signed up for Tae Kwan Do. When I arrived I was the only person without a dobok (uniform), standing amongst 20 guys. We did 10 minutes of drills. Then, I had to spar a green belt. I mean, it was fun, but these people clearly weren’t invested in teaching me.

The university wouldn’t let me get a refund; I had to transfer to another activity. There was a yoga class the same day/time as Tae Kwan Do. And that’s how it happened.

The class was in a cold gym; there were a dozen people sitting on the lacquered floor, waiting quietly for class to start. Our instructor was Saatchi Hargreaves, a rotund English woman who had a stack of yoga mats for sale beside her for $10 each. I bought my first of many mats that day – purple and brandless. I wasn’t expecting much.

But ten minutes in, I was struggling. We were doing movements I’d never seen before. I could deadlift 230lbs for sets but I couldn’t hold this Boat Pose thing without shaking. This unassuming teacher was folding herself in half like it’s how she takes breakfast. It looked surreal to me. I was hooked.

After that class, I followed Saatchi anywhere she taught – from that cold gym to her living room where she’d crank her electric fireplace for eight of us to do ‘hot yoga’. I’d house-/kid-/cat-sit in exchange for class fees. I took a year to close my eyes and relax in Savasana, and the breath and meditation of yoga transformed me. When I left that city, Saatchi gave me her cat, Tia. I’d found a kind of family in yoga.

Becoming a teacher

After graduating, I landed a gig as the host of the travel show My Global Adventure (despite having a viewership of over a million in Canada and selling to a dozen countries including National Geographic Traveler in the US, this show is remarkably – and graciously, for me – difficult to find). We went to 26 countries in nine months. I was overflowing with once-in-a-lifetime experiences when I landed back in Calgary. And I was exhausted. That’s when I met my next yoga teacher, Jennifer Steed.

Jennifer was – is – magical. She made the yoga mat home again for me, and invited me to do yoga teacher training with her and Mary-Jo Maloney. I did, and three years later I came back for Advanced Certification. I then launched myself into the unknown of teaching yoga full-time.

And the rest is not just history, it’s my reality. I now lead yoga teacher training full-time. I’d never have imagined how walking into that class with Saatchi that first day in undergrad would lead to this. But that’s how a lot of amazing things in our lives happen: sometimes as seemingly random, chance events or taking a risk and trying something new.

Living the yoga life

My life is built on moving, learning, growing, connecting. They unite every random detail of my journey to get where I am today. Yoga gave me an opportunity to integrate what I loved in life, and as my own boss, to do it my way. It wasn’t always easy – choosing your own path rarely is – but it’s been so worthwhile. I love yoga’s wisdom and insight. And I love connecting with amazing people every time I run a class, workshop, retreat, do a private session or lead my yoga teacher training.

If you’ve always known you don’t quite fit the mold, if you’re in a job that doesn’t excite you, or feel you’re missing out on doing something bigger, more meaningful with your life, then it’s time. You can start moving in a new direction RIGHT NOW. And you don’t have to do it alone. Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training is your path to becoming part of a community of movement rebels, confident teachers living their passion and supporting each other. Don’t wait. Our biggest regrets are the things we wished we’d done, but didn’t. Take your first step: Apply to the training.

Read about how and why I started Pranalife Yoga Teacher Training.

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