#AskBren: When Did You Start Practicing Yoga?
Updated: Dec 30, 2021
I started practicing yoga when I was 11 years old.
I had started to learn about Buddhism and 'Eastern philosophy,' and was drawn to this holistic and mindful perspective. I became curious about asana (the physical postures of Yoga) as a method to prepare for meditation, because I found sitting still to meditate very uncomfortable.
I found a book from the 70s about yoga asana at the local library in Napanee, Ontario. I taught myself the Surya Namaskar series (Sun Salutation) and started practicing this every day.
I quickly fell in love with the mindful movement, and I'm sure I didn't know why at the time.
Looking back I can say that I found mind-body connection to be very soothing to my over-thinking brain and jumpy parasympathetic nervous system. I learned to tune in to observing my body and breath and learned to tune out the chaos of my environment and memories.
And though I began my yoga journey early, I still had quite a bumpy ride in my teenage years. Through much more trauma and growth, I continued to study Buddhism, continued to read any books about Yoga I could find, and continued my daily practice of asana.
I was self-taught for the first 10+ years of my study. In my early twenties I tried out going to a yoga studio for the first time, in Victoria, BC where I was living at the time. I was ready to connect with a spiritual community and develop my practice among others. Well, I ended up unknowingly attending a very fitness-focused studio and was extremely turned off. I found not a community but a group of competitive, judgemental people all vying for attention and/or trying to look sexy. I tried a couple more classes at this studio and left disappointed, returning to my personal practice, using the tools I had learned so far to go inward.
At this point I was actively seeking a yoga teacher training program, and searched unsuccessfully for about 5 years, looking for a school that taught more than just asana. Yoga as a spiritual path, not an exercise routine.
I moved to the Okanagan in 2020, and after a few months met some SOYA (South Okanagan Yoga Academy) alumni. I learned about Mugs McConnel, founder of the school and author of Letters From The Yoga Masters. My hope for an authentic spiritual Yoga community was renewed.
In April 2021 I attended SOYA 200hr Immersion Yoga Teacher Training and graduated top of class. I immediately began teaching both group and private classes and realized my svadharma, my personal/individual purpose for being here in this life on Earth: I am here to be a yoga teacher. Nothing has ever felt as fulfilling or as right as when I am guiding students in the practice of Yoga.
In recent years my personal practice has changed - my sadhana or daily personal spiritual ritual is now mainly pranayama (breath work) and japamala (counting mantra on beads), with asana and other types of meditation coming second.