Woman preparing to hop on bicycle. Her face is hidden.

And So It Begins…

Next week my yoga teacher training begins and for the first time in my life I’m not entirely sure where I’m heading. Before, I was so busy thinking about my next steps and trying to prove things to myself (that I was smart enough, ambitious enough, good enough) that I missed so many important, beautiful things along the way. I was always chasing something, telling myself I’d find happiness in the next assignment, job or party, in the next five pounds, or maybe the five after that. I sought external validation and was crippled when I didn’t get it. I was plagued by feeling like I hadn’t found my place in this world. I questioned my work and my authenticity, living in a constant flux of anxiety and depression that eventually contributed to me resigning from my job.

I needed time to think. I was sick, tired, sad and confused. I felt like I had gone off track (or more honestly, completely off the rails) somewhere along the way, but I couldn’t quite figure out what had gone wrong, or where. On the outside, things looked good. I was more or less always moving forward, yet for some reason I felt like my work didn’t matter. When you define yourself by your work as I did, this eventually causes you to misinterpret this as meaning you don’t matter. These thoughts kept me up all night, but left me exhausted and bedridden during the day. It took a lot of work for me to return to some semblance of normalcy. Yet even after I got my shit together and stopped feeling sorry for myself, something didn’t quite feel right. I couldn’t shake the thought that there had to be more to life than this.

I have spent my entire twenties floating from job to job, program to program, my passions shape shifting as I struggled to find meaning in my work. One thing that remained consistent throughout though was I love, love, LOVE to write. Up until yoga, nothing other than writing brought the same catharsis to my soul. I felt like writing was the only way to truly connect to myself, often not knowing how I felt about things until I put pen to paper. The same thing happens to me on the mat. I have found so much clarity in going inward through yoga and meditation that I now believe we all harbour the answers to our deepest questions. Yoga has been essential to helping me cope with and heal from many things that have harmed me. It did not come as a surprise to those closest to me when I began expressing a desire to take my yoga more seriously.

Yoga is the best therapist I’ve ever had.

Yoga teacher training feels natural to me at this time in my life. Not only do I want to deepen my own practice, but I feel this pull to design classes that incorporate all of these lessons I’ve learned from a decade spent misaligned with myself. Yoga to me is so inclusive. It is so personal, and yet so connected. I subscribe to the belief that yoga is for everybody and every body, which is why I eventually want to use my yoga for good. I have so many ideas for programs I want to create, especially for women with mental health and eating issues. I just feel like I need the proper education and support (and maybe a sprinkle of luck!) in order to bring these ideas to life.

I’ve heard so many stories about what yoga teacher training is like, especially about how emotional it can be. I am scared and excited in equal weight. Having the opportunity to study yoga under teachers I care deeply about at a studio that feels like a second home to me is something I express gratitude for every day. I feel fortunate that I am in a place right now to take this leap. While my own practice consists mostly of vinyasa, I have elected to take training that encompasses vinyasa, hatha and therapeutic yoga. After this, I’ll focus on adaptive and restorative yoga, as well as pre and post natal yoga training, and I’m sure many other things that I have yet to discover.

And after that? Who knows! I want to (finally) write a book of essays, get my other passion project back up off the ground, launch a YouTube channel, and partner with like-minded people and organizations to develop unique workshops for women and girls to help them see their value, beauty and worth. I want to study mindful self-compassion so I can incorporate this into my programs, as well as more thoroughly into my own life. I want to immerse myself in this as much as possible because this is what is important to me. This is what I feel like my life has been leading toward. I’m not sure what’s to come, but have no doubt about it, I’m on my way.

I will be blogging throughout my yoga teacher training journey starting July 4.  I hope you come along for the ride. Oh, and if you have any advice for me please share in the comments below.

*rings bike bell twice*

With love,

Sheena

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How to Celebrate International Day of Yoga in Toronto

Next week marks the second annual International Day of Yoga. While a ‘World Yoga Day’ has been celebrated unofficially in some capacity for many years, it was not until the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, proposed the idea in 2014 that the United Nations General Assembly gave June 21st the official declaration. The first event last year was celebrated around the world and earned two Guinness World Records, one for the largest yoga class, which was taught by Prime Minister Modi himself and attracted some 35,985 people; and one for the largest number of nationalities to participate in a single yoga event: an amazing 84 nations.

I don’t think we’re going to see anything of that magnitude here in Toronto, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to do to participate in this amazing day. Here are 10 ways to celebrate International Yoga Day in Toronto. Read More

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20+ Places to do Free Yoga in Toronto This Summer

I’m just going to pretend that’s a photo from Toronto Islands as that’s one of many places you can experience free yoga in Toronto this summer. Free yoga classes are an amazing and affordable way to develop your practice, explore new parts of the city, try different styles of yoga and spend some time with friends (or make some new ones!). Here are more than 20 opportunities to take advantage of free yoga in the six this summer, including multiple gorgeous parks, a farm, the Distillery District, libraries and even the Sony Centre.  Read More

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8 Toronto Yogis to Follow on Instagram

There is something to be said about a well executed Instagram account. While I love an account that features beautiful photos and attention to detail as much as the next person, what really inspires me is when people (or brands) use the channel to show their authentic selves and to invite followers into their journeys. Instagram, as curated as it may be, has the ability to make us part of a moment, and is powerful enough to sometimes turn these moments into movements.

As someone who works in digital marketing and social media, I’ve found myself paying increasing attention to Instagram strategy. While I won’t use this post to address that, I wanted to share with you some of the Toronto yogis I think are doing a particularly wonderful job of sharing the yoga lifestyle and inspiring their followers to pursue their own paths.

Without further ado, here are eight Toronto yogis you absolutely must follow on Instagram. Read More

Self Care Sundays

Happy Valentine’s Day! I’m lucky to be celebrating with my fiancé tonight, but before we head out I wanted to take a moment to talk about Self Care Sunday. As much as it’s important to recognize our love for others, it’s possibly even more important to our overall well-being to show ourselves the love as well.

I’ve been meaning to write a post about Self Care Sunday for weeks, but my seemingly never-ending to-do list has made the idea of stopping to take time for myself almost stressful. This is the opposite of what Self Care Sunday is all about! Self Care Sunday is about taking the time to look after yourself mentally, physically and spiritually despite the other things going on in our lives. This may mean different things to different people, but what remains constant is the promise to take a few moments to do something that makes us feel good. Even a few small things can add up and make a big difference in our lives.

Here are some of the things I’ve been doing to show myself some love on Self Care Sundays.

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The Yogi’s Guide to Essential Reading

Put the kettle on, get your tea mug ready and wrap yourself up in a warm, fuzzy blanket because tonight we’re talking about reading! I started compiling this list as I was preparing for my yoga teacher training and have decided to continue updating it as I discover more yoga books and texts. If I’ve missed any, please feel free to post them in the comments below! I have not yet read all of these, but they’re on my list.

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On #BellLetsTalk Day Let’s Not Forget to Listen

I am what I would describe as high functioning. Despite living with clinical depression, anxiety and at times a slew of other issues, I have been fortunate in that I’ve managed to hold myself together for the most part. Gathering the courage to ask for help from medical professionals wasn’t the hard part for me, and I am thankful for that. It was getting people to listen that was the problem. Read More

Book Review: Yoga Girl By Rachel Brathen

I just finished reading Yoga Girl by Rachel Brathen and wow, what a beautiful book! Part memoir and part yoga reference guide, Yoga Girl is full of stunning photos that capture Rachel’s radiance, strength and positivity, as well as her life living along the beautiful beaches of Aruba. It features broken down sequencing and proper pose technique, and contains enough inspiration to set you up for a lifetime of positive thinking.

But what I like most about it is how real it is. It reminded me of how my own yoga journey began.

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3 Reasons Why I’m Happier Now Than Ever

Happy New Year!

I know it’s midway through January, but this is my first post of 2016 and I wanted to start it off by sending some positive vibes your way. I’m feeling really good these days, like better than I’ve felt in an extremely long time. I thought I would share some of the things I’ve been doing over the past few months to set myself up for what will hopefully be the best year of my life so far. I want you to have the best year of your life too! Here are my tips for making it happen.

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Yoga Studio Review: MISFITSTUDIO

As I lay my mat down, I can see the light from the setting sun start to fade through the old church windows. Candles maintain a warmth and a glow as I settle into Siddhasana, closing my eyes for a few moments before the class begins. This is the closest to God I have felt in a long time.

MISFITSTUDIO is located on Queen Street West above Anthropologie on the third floor of a converted church. There is a main studio for mat work and yoga, and a smaller adjacent studio for Reformer Pilates. The fireplace in the corner is thoughtfully decorated with a mix of traditional yoga symbols and unconventional elements with old Hollywood charm. The latter is a distinct characteristic of Misfit. An accent wall features black and white photos of old dancers and actresses, an aesthetic that carries over to the studio’s Instagram account. Read More