It’s difficult to pinpoint where my true yoga journey began, but to choose an arbitrary place to begin describing my yoga experiences; I am a 41 year old Canadian who has been practicing asana based yoga for 18 years and teaching for 17 years.
I first experienced this type of yoga when I traveled to India in 1998 after completing a B.Sc. in Biology and Psychology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada. Yoga felt like a natural extension and continuation of what I was exploring in my university studies, and it allowed me to move beyond the limitations of scientific inquiry in developing my understanding of human nature.
My initial yoga training in 1998 was in the Iyengar system with Sharat Arora of the Himalayan Iyengar Yoga centre in Dharamsala, India. After taking a few courses with Sharat, I knew that I had found exactly what I was looking for in life. I quickly became closely involved with my teacher by helping him with the initial stages of a book on yoga he wanted to write. From there I became his apprentice and basically lived a full time life of yoga with many hours daily of practice, assisting, and working on his book. This situation continued for 2 years, and by then end of this period he had trained me as teacher in the Iyengar system of yoga, and in 2000 I began to teach courses at his yoga school in Dharamsala. I feel extremely fortunate for the depth of this initial experience and immersion in yoga.
After that, I pursued further studies in the Iyengar system of yoga from other senior teachers in India such as Dharmavirsingh Mahida in Pune and Father Joe Periera in Mumbai. I continued to teach on an occasional basis around India, and also in Europe. I also began to seriously practice Vipassana meditation in the tradition of SN Goenka during this time period.
I returned to Canada in 2003 after living most of the 5 year period from 1998-2003 in India. At this time I shifted to the Ashtanga system of yoga when I was taken to a Mysore style class with Mark Darby in Montreal. After practicing with Darby for three days in a row, I decided to move to Montreal, and completely switched my personal practice to the Ashtanga method. I spent the next six months immersed in Mysore style Ashtanga practice and learned the primary and intermediate series from Darby. I was also teaching yoga full time in Montreal and my teaching style slowly followed the change in my personal practice. I have maintained a six day per week Ashtanga practice since that time.
In late 2004 I relocated to Whitehorse, Yukon in Northern Canada. Here I began experimenting with the third series of Ashtanga on my own. I also founded my own yoga school there, Ashtanga Yoga Yukon, which I ran from 2004-2013.
During the years 2006 – 2008 I traveled to Boulder, CO several times to study with Richard Freeman. I completed Richard’s teacher intensive as well as two of his advanced intensives. Richard also helped me to fine tune my third series practice.
From 2007 to 2014, I traveled to Goa, India each winter to spend three to five months each year practicing with Rolf and Marci Naujokat. Rolf re-taught me the third (Advanced A) series in the traditional way over three years, and then taught me the fourth (Advanced B) series, which I completed in 2014.
In late 2014, after 11 years of daily Ashtanga practice and completing the 4th series with Rolf, I went to the KPJAYI in Mysore for the first time and practiced for three months with Sharath Jois. I have returned to practice with Sharath for three months each year since then, and I now consider him to be my teacher. In October 2016, on my third trip to practice with Sharath, I was granted level 2 authorization from the KPJAYI.
In 2013, after leaving Whitehorse, YT as my home base, I founded “Spacious Yoga” as a new concept to represent my Ashtanga practice and teaching, wherever it may travel in the world. I am currently based in Ubud, Bali, and have run a Mysore style Ashtanga shala there since April 2014.
My present yoga teaching mirrors my practice of the traditional Ashtanga method. I teach the Mysore style method, because my own experience is that this is what really works. Long term Mysore style practice is the only way to truly experience the unfolding of this method in the body, mind and nervous system in a sustainable and fully integrated way. I do also enjoy verbally teaching the subtleties of the practice in guided classes and workshops and I do offer these types of classes and courses which are intended to supplement a long term Mysore style practice.
My approach is one that emphasizes alignment, meditative focus and self-exploration via the Ashtanga sequences. Because the Ashtanga system is so powerful, I tend to move students through it slowly and in a stable way. I teach a very grounded practice which can be fully integrated into one’s being and life in a sustainable way. For me, yoga is about using the body and breath as a tool to access and transform deeper layers of the self. This can only be done when one truly engages deeply and fully with each posture and movement.
I am also a long-term meditator in the Vipassana technique. I have sat over 20 meditation retreats and annually sit a longer retreat of 30-60 days. Although I don’t give formal meditation instruction in my yoga courses, the deeper process of penetration into the nature of reality via self-observation encompasses everything I do in life, including the practice and teaching of yoga asana and breathing. For me, yoga is just another tool in this process. Yoga is about truly and honestly encountering oneself with the intention of self-understanding and self-evolution.