Image: Jenna Heibert - @bearandsparrow

Wherever you are, is enough

Wherever you are, is enough

Grace Siwik – Student Story

Image: Jenna Heibert - @bearandsparrow

Image: Jenna Heibert – @bearandsparrow

Originally from Ontario, Grace Siwik came from a background as a competitive athlete, playing field hockey, soccer and boxing. “I played pretty much every contact sport you can think of. I beat up and got beat up a lot. It was really hard on my body,” Grace said.

After breaking her hand for the third time, a doctor suggested Grace try something a little more relaxing, prompting her to try yoga as an alternative to contact sports and to recover from the injuries.

“I thought yoga was just like stretching where the lights are dim and people are chanting and singing. It was much more challenging than I expected, both physically and mentally. I loved it,” Grace said.

She kept up the practice for several years before moving to Vancouver in 2015 for a sales job in a health company.

“It was pretty stressful. The job wasn’t healthy. I needed a change and didn’t know what to do. My best friend gave me some great advice and I decided to go in the opposite direction and do something more restful,” Grace said.

Looking for a time of healing, Grace signed up for the Immersion 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training program led by Rebekka Walker in September 2017.

“Everybody came with such different reasons for being there. It was so beautiful to experience how people from different countries, ages, belief systems and backgrounds can come together through this connection of yoga and just love and support each other.”

Since the program, Grace says her yoga practice has been focussed on listening to her body and not having expectations about how a pose should look.

“We’ve all been in that place where we feel we’re not good enough or we’re not doing it right but who cares how much you can reach your toes in a forward fold! You’re still in the pose.”

Grace says she’s looking forward to encouraging her future students to feel okay where they are, both on and off the mat.

“Everybody needs a place to start. Wherever you are is great, and enough. There’s only room to grow. The beautiful thing about yoga is that there are so many different levels and forms of the poses. There’s always something to work forward towards.”

After graduating in October, Grace moved back to Ontario to regroup and spend time with friends and family while she decides what her next step will be. She hopes to travel, teach and one day move abroad. Follow Grace’s journey on Instagram: @siwikgrace.

The next 200-hour Immersion Yoga Teacher Training Program runs January 15 – February 23, 2018. This Yoga Alliance Certified program is led by the amazing Rebekka Walker and will help you develop your own authentic voice as a yoga teacher.

Grace Siwik Yoga Teacher Training

Image: Jenna Heibert – @bearandsparrow

Top 5 Reasons to Take a Yoga Teacher Training

Creative Director Rebekka Walker shares her top 5 reasons for taking a yoga teacher training.

Rebekka Walker Yoga Teacher

1. YOU HEAR THE CALL

I always tell my students that they aren’t in a training with me by accident. The call to dive into a yoga teacher training may begin as a whisper, but once that call is heard its hard to put off. The longing to share your passion for yoga with others, and to dive deep into this elegant practice is one that calls deep from with in, and shouldn’t be ignored!

2. YOU WILL LEARN A WHOLE LOT MORE THAN HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR DOWNDOG

Many students come to teacher trainings only aware of the physical aspects of yoga, but once  you embark upon teacher training, the deeper aspects of the practice are revealed. You will learn history, philosophy, biomechanics, therapeutics and how to implement them all in a way that is relevant and deepening to your own practice, and foundational to your students’.

Rebekka Walker Yoga Teacher

3. COMMUNITY AND CONNECTION!

The nature of yoga teacher training asks us to be supportive and supported. The friends, allies and connections you make in your training will last a lifetime. They become what we call “kula” a community of the heart, and if you are open to it, those connections will stick around long after you graduate.

4. AWAKENING YOUR SUPER POWERS

It is immensely empowering to stand up and teach in your own true voice. The self work that is inherent in any teacher training allows for an uncovering of many gifts that you may have left hidden. Developing new skill in how you relate to life creates authenticity and confidence in all endeavours, both on and off the mat.

5. IT MIGHT CHANGE YOUR LIFE

“This teacher training changed my life…” It might sound like a cliche, but I hear it at least once a training. Whether its a change in career, a change in posture, a change of heart or a full life reboot, the more you offer up in your training, the more that you will receive. 22 years in and 2000 hours of teacher training completed personally, I can attest first hand to the power of yoga trainings to heal and transform, both in my own life and in the lives of my students.

About Rebekka Walker

Rebekka WalkerRebekka is currently teaching the 200hr Foundations Yoga Teacher Training Program at VSY. As the Creative Director of Vancouver School of Yoga’s 200 & 300 hour advanced programs; and internationally through her unique trainings; Rebekka has developed a reputation as a teacher of teachers for over a decade.

Read more about Rebekka on our Faculty Page or visit her website rebekkawalker.com

Take Health And Healing Into Your Own Hands

The practice of Yoga Therapy is growing in popularity as it empowers people with the knowledge they need to help heal themselves, rather than relying solely on traditional healthcare practitioners.

Yoga Therapy Chelsea Rebekka

Yoga Therapy Program Director Chelsea Lee assisting Rebekka Walker, Creative Director of VSY.

Chelsea Lee, Certified Yoga Therapist and Program Director of Yoga Therapy at the Vancouver School of Yoga (VSY), says that yoga therapy has been carving its place in the wellness and healthcare industries by bridging the gap between the Western medical profession and Eastern healing practices.

“Yoga Therapy allowed me to heal myself from injury and I think a lot of people are interested in that so they can become less reliant on the western medical system,” Chelsea said.

The 300-hour Foundations of Yoga Therapy Program taught by Chelsea at VSY is unique to Vancouver in its well-rounded approach to therapy. Students receive a strong foundation of knowledge in the physical aspects such as anatomy, physiology, physical assessment and injury rehabilitation, whilst also exploring conditions of mind, heart and spirit.

“There’s lots of great yoga in the city [Vancouver] but what’s unique to VSY is that we’re looking at the person as an integrated whole – mind, body and spirit – and teaching our students how to develop individualized treatment plans for clients based on their unique story, beliefs and body.  It’s a science and an art form.” Chelsea said.

Nicole Marcia

Nicole Marcia, Yoga Therapist

Supporting this vision is a team of carefully chosen, highly skilled faculty members from a balance of eastern and western perspectives who each bring a unique specialization to the program. Among the team of highly experienced yoga teachers and yoga therapy specialists is industry front-runner Nicole Marcia.

Nicole is a Certified Yoga Therapist with a Master’s degree specializing in yoga therapy from Lesley University in Boston, MA. She has worked extensively with provincial health services, trauma centres, military communities, and marginalized populations with a focus on mental health, addictions, drug treatment, trauma and sexual violence.

Nicole said, “It’s a real honor to be playing a role in this innovative program that is elevating the profession of yoga therapy. The combined expertise of such a diverse and experienced group of faculty makes for a high calibre of training for our students.”

Nicole will be working alongside Diane Lee – physiotherapist, March Finch – registered massage therapist, Todd Inouye – yoga philosophy expert, Sylvia Smallman – Later Life Yoga specialist and a host of other industry professionals.

Chelsea said “It’s important for aspiring Yoga Therapists to be able to speak the language of the Western medical perspective so that when they receive referrals from doctors, psychologists, physiotherapists and other health care practitioners, they can talk the talk. Weaving the Eastern practices of yoga while being grounded in Western science is what we strive to bring to our students in order to set them up for success in this field.”

Chelsea Lee Yoga Therapy

Chelsea Lee – Yoga Therapy Program Director

Thanks to the student clinic portion of the program, students have the opportunity to work with clients who aren’t their peers, allowing them to graduate from the program with practical, hands-on skills.

When discussing Yoga Therapy, Chelsea says she often encounters questions around what can occur during a session, and what Yoga Therapy entails. This has prompted the creation of a Yoga Therapy Open House at the Vancouver School of Yoga. During the event, Chelsea will run a yoga therapy demo session and unveil her vision for a brand new program that’s currently in development – a 500 hour Advanced Yoga Therapy Program which expands on the 300 hour Foundations of Yoga Therapy.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to get to really show what yoga therapy entails by demonstrating a live session and allowing the conversation to develop from there. I’m also looking forward to connecting with some previous graduates of the Foundations of Yoga Therapy program to see where they’re at and chat about possible next steps for them with the Advanced Yoga Therapy Program,” Chelsea said.

The Yoga Therapy Open House will be held on September 13 at 6pm. It is free to attend and attendees will receive $100 tuition credit towards a Yoga Teacher Training Program at VSY.

Chelsea Lee on Yoga Therapy – Kent Brun Podcast

VSY’s Yoga Therapy Program Director Chelsea Lee was interviewed by Kent Brun for Episode 111 of the Yoga Professionals Talking Podcast.

Listen to the podcast below:

Chelsea lee – 2017/08/04 by Kent Brun Podcast

Episode 111 Chelsea lee: We Talk About: Yoga Therapy/ Beginners Mind/ Yoga to Empower

Yoga Therapy in Treatment Centres

Richelle1Richelle Muscroft moved to Squamish from Vancouver last year as a brand-new yoga teacher. “I hadn’t even taught a public class yet!” Richelle said, “This year has been quite the ride in a lot of beautiful and difficult ways.”

Richelle said that the driving force that inspired her to get her yoga teacher training was when she learnt of an organization called Yoga Outreach who offered yoga in treatment centres and correctional facilities.

“I lost my dad to addiction and thought a beautiful way to honour him and help others would be by teaching yoga at treatment centres,” Richelle said.

Richelle completed her 200-hour training in 2015 followed by a Trauma Sensitive Yoga Training, and then began volunteering at a treatment centre in Vancouver.

“Whenever I left the treatment centre, I felt elated and refreshed. I loved offering yoga in this setting and found it really fulfilling. I was learning more and more about the amazing ways in which you can offer yoga and it felt very empowering and motivating.”

Richelle3After taking a Yin Training, Richelle came across the concept of yoga therapy and the 300-hour Foundations Yoga Therapy Program at the Vancouver School of Yoga.

“Everything I was reading made me think ‘Yes! This is what I want to do with yoga!’”

From her personal experiences with loss, Richelle entered the program with the intention of helping people suffering from grief, depression and addition. “Chelsea Lee [Yoga Therapy program director] and the other facilitators really opened up the doors,” Richelle said. “They showed me the different avenues that you could use yoga therapy. It was inspiring.”

Richelle enjoys the personalised and individual nature of Yoga Therapy and said that through the program, she discovered a new love of anatomy.

“It was really cool to see how much I enjoyed integrating those tangible elements through identifying misalignments in the body and understanding how I can help with that on a physical and energetic level.”

Richelle2In addition to her volunteering, Richelle now works at an addictions and wellness centre in Squamish teaching yoga and meditation. She also offers private yoga therapy sessions and teaches a variety of public yoga classes including Yin, Healing Hatha and Yoga for Men.

Despite all of her success, Richelle says she still has moments of self-doubt and impostor syndrome.

“In those moments, you really have to look at what you’ve done and be proud of that. Squamish is a beautiful community and I feel so grateful for the opportunity to teach and how much I’ve learned and accomplished thus far. I am also so grateful for the practice and how it has helped me on my journey.”

Richelle hopes to continue studying to become a fully certified Yoga Therapist with the 500-hour Advanced Yoga Therapy Program, which is currently in development at VSY.

“It’s been a really cool journey so far and truly empowering for me to be able to turn my experiences into something positive that I can offer others. I’m looking forward to seeing where yoga therapy is going and excited to be part of the team of people pursuing this field.”

Incorporating Alignment & Adjustments

Jada Byun – Student Story

Jada Byan VSYThe first time Jada Byun came to Vancouver it was to perform at the 2010 Winter Olympics. Jada had been a dancer for over 10 years and regularly travelled the globe performing at ceremonies and festivals with her international dance team.

Over time, Jada’s injuries from dancing accumulated and she wanted a way to heal her body. “I’d done yoga for a really long time and after class I always felt my body was more soft and relaxed. There was no pressure or stress so that’s why I decided to learn more about yoga and I slowly began to turn the path of my life that way.”

Jada did her initial Yoga Teacher Training in 2007 in South Korea where she was born and raised. “At the time the style of yoga teaching was mostly focused on the physical aspects of yoga and not so much the spiritual,” Jada said. “We mostly worked on the poses and asana.”

Jada Byan VSYAfter three years of teaching yoga, Jada branched out and got her Aerial Yoga certification in 2015 before deciding to move with her husband to Vancouver, the city where they first met, in 2016.

Despite landing a job teaching aerial yoga in Coquitlam, Jada wanted to know more about the western style of yoga and continued researching different schools and studios.

“I was curious to learn more about the methods taught here and the different styles of philosophy and the Vancouver School of Yoga was highly recommended to me,” Jada said.

Jada enrolled in the May intake of the 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training program and said her experience so far has been fascinating, challenging and satisfying.

“Here, I feel more free and comfortable. I really love the focus on respecting the student, their energy and their body. I also really love the teaching on alignment and adjustments and how we build relationships with other people and share the class together. There is a beautiful energy.”

Jada Byan VSYJada said her biggest challenge so far in the program is the philosophy. “The hardest part for me is connecting the philosophy with real life. I also have a language barrier so sometimes it’s difficult for me to understand.”

Despite the challenges and the difference in style, Jada said she has already been able to apply the methods from VSY’s training, particularly around alignment, into her aerial classes.

“I’ve learned a lot of new things and have been reminded of some of things I’d forgotten which I’m really appreciative of. The faculty is so beautiful and amazing. I’m really happy to learn yoga here – I love this place!” Jada said.

After finishing the 200-hour training at VSY, Jada wants to continue teaching more classes and hopes to one day have her own studio that she can practise in.

 

Connecting to the Bigger Picture

Meet Rebekka Walker - our new Creative Director!

Rebekka WalkerRebekka Walker came to yoga as a teenager, riddled with severe injuries from ski racing. Being an elite athlete took a toll on her body and she realised she needed to realign.

“I was sick of physiotherapy and I wanted something that would help with my pain and stress levels. My mom is a yogic practitioner and long time meditator and she suggested I try yoga. It really helped me come back into my body,” Rebekka said.

After embracing the physical benefits, Rebekka started to dive in the spiritual and philosophical aspects of yoga and sought out a specific lineage of teaching based around healing and uniting the body and mind through compassion and ease.

“When I started doing Yoga it was a lot different. There was no music and no mirrors. There were two – maybe three – yoga studios in Vancouver and classes were two hours long. It was a little occult and definitely in the underground,” Rebekka said.

At age 16, Rebekka went to India to study with renowned yoga teacher Amma, who is one of the foremost spiritual leaders in India and a notable humanitarian. She then studied Iyengar, Hatha and Vinyasa yoga before meeting John Friend in the year 2002 and becoming an Anusara practitioner.

“What I love about yoga is it’s capacity to create conditions into which we can become attuned to and aligned with the bigger picture, our environment, and beyond– it’s all about connection fundamentally.”

Rebekka WalkerRebekka spent a decade practicing and teaching Anusara around the world before moving to Vancouver and opening Inner Space Yoga in Gastown, which she successfully ran for 8 years.

“Yoga is a lot of different things to a lot of different people. In my teachings, I seek to look at yoga as the living practice that it is, and yet there is still relevance in how it was practiced thousands of years ago, so we need to pay homage that.”

The proximity of the Inner Space studio to the Vancouver School of Yoga meant she’s enjoyed a close working relationship with the school over the years and has mentored student teachers from VSY and taught classes and courses on occasion.

“What draws me to VSY is that it’s an established yoga school, not a studio, which means it has its focus solely on training teachers. As such, it’s also a little understated in the Vancouver scene and I like that. It holds lots of possibility and potential.”

Rebekka has joined the faculty at VSY as Creative Director and is looking forward to bringing her own unique essence to the VSY programs.

Rebekka Walker“The specific flavours I bring to yoga are joyful inspiration and elegant alignment. The capacity to support my students in their remembrance and recognition of their highest potential. My unique message is all about the soulful study of ancient yet very relevant system of awakening.”

For the last two years, Rebekka has lived on Bowen Island where she has worked as a Yoga therapist at the Orchard Recovery Centre, taught training programs at Bowen Island Yoga, and worked as a senior teacher at YYoga.

“I know that I’m a yoga teacher because I feel like it was what I was meant to do,” Rebekka said. “I’ve never really considered if it’s my path or not. I’ve never really doubted that it wasn’t for me because it keeps pulling me back.”

Rebekka has been a yoga practitioner for 23 years and has taught yoga for 15 years in many places around the world, including New York, Los Angeles, Berlin, London, Thailand and Bali.

“The highlight of my career is just the capacity of my practice and my love of my work to allow me to step into the bliss of everyday existence. Everyday is good because I love what I do, and I see that reflected back at me in the eyes of my students.”

Photo by Lia Zheng / @toytose

Finding a Sense of Home

Finding a Sense of Home

Jenna Giardino Student Story

Jenna Giardino came to VSY from Winnipeg, Manitoba as a scholarship student in the 200 hour Immersion Yoga Teacher Training. Before taking the 200 hour program Jenna had been practising Moksha yoga for three years. Moksha is a form of yoga that branched off of Bikram and follows a set sequence of postures in a heated room.

Photo by Lia Zheng / @toytose

Photo by Lia Zheng / @toytose

“I started realising that my alignment sucked. I was basically hurting myself all the time by dumping into poses. You’re so much more open in a hot room. You can go deeper into poses but you can hurt yourself if you’re not in the correct alignment. I still love the Moksha series and I love moksha itself but it’s not very alignment based.”

Jenna said she was looking for a program that offered biomechanics with proper alignment, great philosophy, methodology, and covered chanting and chakras.

“The 200 program at VSY offered everything I wanted; to dig in deep and start understanding some of the biomechanics of doing yoga for a life long practice. I wanted to feel good in my body instead of hurting myself.”

Jenna was one of 12 students in her class, many of whom came from different parts of British Columbia, Canada, the USA and the UK.

“In the first class our instructor Lila had us get into a circle and share our Sankalpa. It was so empowering to have all 12 of us women just exist without a filter and become vulnerable, in a good way.”

A Sankalpa is a Sanskrit word for a notion, vow or intention that can be used to determine what you want to take out of a teaching program, yoga practice or every day life.

Jenna Giardino 2“It was beautiful to see all of us share that on the first day. It set up the dynamic for the six weeks and we all really became a group of sisters and shared a sense of home. We empowered one another and I’m so thankful for that.”

After graduating, Jenna dived straight into VSY’s 300 hour Advanced Program, a decision she said she would never question.

“As soon as we started the 300, something just clicked and I really started to understand everything in depth. I’m having mini-epiphanies every day. It’s amazing to finally have that connection and to understand myself more even in three weeks.”

After completing the 300 program, Jenna plans to start teaching with the goal of being able to travel the world with her yoga experience and inspire other people with it.

“I’m just going to take it day by day. I don’t want to rush into it and lose my authenticity. I want to carry my message with me, that home is always going to be wherever you are in yourself. You can be anywhere in the world and you are home as long as you are content with yourself.”

Girl Rising: Igniting Our Passion for Education

Inspired by our passion for education, we are delighted to be hosting a free screening of the film Girl Rising at the Vancouver School of Yoga on April 11 at 7pm.

GirlRising_MoviePosterGirl Rising is a global campaign for girls’ education and empowerment that aims to show how educating girls can transform societies. The film tells nine stories of nine girls – each one about how education can change the future for girls, their families, communities and entire nations.

“I’m thrilled that the school is offering a free showing of Girl Rising, a film made by an awesome organization dedicated to the education of girls across the world,” said VSY’s Program Director Lila Rasa Brown.

The mission of Girl Rising is to change the way the world values girls and ensure that girls’ education is part of the mainstream conversation. Educating girls can break cycles of poverty in just one generation, yet millions of girls aren’t in school. Girl Rising uses storytelling to inspire action that gets girls into classrooms worldwide.

“I hope to see you out on April 11! I have a feeling you’ll leave feeling hopeful and inspired,” Lila said.

Whilst the event is free to attend, participants are invited to consider making a contribution after watching the film by donating to this important cause.

More details about the event can be found on the Girl Rising Facebook event page.

Starting a New Career at Retirement Age

Alanna Cameron – My Yoga Journey

Alanna Cameron Travel“My yoga journey began early last fall – more of a coming of age story (“age” being midlife). For the past 27 years, I have been completely consumed with the hustle and bustle of working two jobs and raising four amazing kids, up until several months ago. My family had grown, as families do, and I was slowly coming aware that I actually began to have time for me.

Fitness and physical health had always been a priority for me, but I was at a stage in my life (I’m 52) where I was looking for something more. I had become very drawn to the idea of establishing a connection between body, mind and spiritual health. Yoga intrigued me. So in my newly found free time, I began with a few YouTube yoga sessions, squeezed in a few hatha classes, and immediately, I was “hooked”.

Alanna Cameron Travel3I wanted more. I found VSY online and read about the 200-hour teacher training program. What better way was there to learn, than to learn to teach? So I submitted my application. It was a pipe dream. From there, I had to find the tuition, be approved for an extended vacation, find someone to look after my business, find a place to stay in Vancouver, find someone to look after my 16 year old son and my dog Gypsy and amazingly, the stars aligned! Within two months, I was set to go.

I was so excited! I practiced asana every day. I bought books and read about yoga. I spoke to as many friends as I could to learn whatever they had to share. I wanted to be uber prepared! Looking back, I know now that I had no idea as to the depth of what I was about to experience.

I was painfully nervous as I made my way to school the first day, but the nerves quickly subsided. By the end of the first day, I felt at ease – safe and supported – and absolutely inspired! We were fortunate to have such a small intimate group – and regardless of the wide array of ages and backgrounds, we all seemed to connect almost instantly. The positive energy that seemed to come alive in our space was amazing!

Over the next few weeks, we were exposed to a wealth of information from a group of incredibly inspiring teachers who came from various backgrounds.

We learned about the history and origin of yoga and the Sanskrit language, we heard stories about the great Gods and Goddesses of Hinduism, and we were exposed to the basic concepts of the 36 Tattvas of Tantric Cosmology, the Eight-Limb Path of Yoga and the mysterious 7 Chakras of Human Energy. We were taught everything from the simplest rules of proper foundation and forms of asana poses, to the fine-tuning techniques of proper alignment and fundamental anatomy. We learned sequencing from start to finish and discussed the higher-level moral responsibilities of taking the seat of a yoga teacher.

And beyond all of that, we were all continually encouraged to consider ourselves and our own individual goals. Through light meditation, journaling, and defining personal sankalpas, we were constantly reminded of the importance of coming to know ourselves – to seek personal growth and understanding – and to always honour and be true our authentic selves.

Lila, the program director, always left time for life – fun and discussion – time to just interact and appreciate each other. I believe that was important – it seemed to be a valuable and fulfilling time for everyone.

Alanna Cameron YogaMy journey, albeit short, has been an amazing one. Yoga to me is a means to unite a healthy body with an easeful mind and true and open heart. It is, and will always be, a part of me and a big part of my everyday life. I truly believe that enrolling in this program has been the very best thing I have ever done – just for me.

When I began the 200-hour teacher training at VSY, the thought of actually starting a new career as a yoga teacher at retirement age seemed like a slim to none possibility. Now, I can’t wait to get started – to share and learn and grow with all of my beautiful yogi students!”