A love letter to Shanti Yoga

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This Valentine’s day, I would like to express my love and gratitude to one particular Halifax business that has had a recent and tangible impact on my daily life.

Shanti Yoga is located just off of Spring Garden road on 5508 Spring Garden road (with locations in Dartmouth and Bedford) but when I enter the building I feel transported elsewhere. From the slushy, grey side streets of our beloved city to the warmth that envelopes you, the transformation is a daily delight.

I had wanted to get back into yoga for a little while but was concerned it wouldn’t be in my budget. However, as fate would have it I won a free month at Shanti Hot Yoga from the show B-Sides. As I developed my practice I had the urge to write this note of gratitude as an exchange for the opportunity.

When I first walked in to the grand studio, the temperature is not so high as to constrict my breathing; it’s a welcome sensation similar to that of piling warm clothes in your arms having just come from the dryer. That sensation is not pushy, but encouraging. I’ve experienced the same from the yoga instructors.

With the studio’s loaded schedule I’m able to attend many classes as my own schedule changes day to day and week to week. I’ve had the chance to sample classes lead by almost all of the instructors on the roster. Though their practices are quite varied, they all have a common vibe. They walk in peacefully, lead the class with simple, clear instructions and often offer some very pertinent and relevant intentions that can be followed within the yoga class and in day to day living.

One example was the advice to be comfortable within the ambiguity of Point A and Point B. So, in yoga you may not be a beginner but still struggle with the advance poses.The instructor stressed the importance of being okay with that and not pushing too quickly forward towards point B but to sit with the stage you’re currently in. This is a pondering that sat with me for the rest of the day as I applied it to my career goals as well. (Often, I reach a point and look to the next point, sacrificing the moment for where I want to end up) They’ve truly struck a balance between the physicality of yoga and offering the psychological benefits through down to Earth intentions without reaching too far into the cosmos; keeping classes accessible to those that are there purely for the physical benefits.

As I move through downward dog and sigh my breath out, I love the feeling of unity I have with others in the room. The sound of our collective exhale is comforting; we are there striving, letting go, learning and challenging ourselves. We are encouraged to breathe as an ensemble and with no mirrors in the room it’s much easier to land right on my own mat, unconcerned with how far others are reaching in their poses. The dimmed lights allow for a relaxed warm up, then they brighten as the intensity increases, with another period of dim for Shavasana.

The importance of a daily ritual is all so clear to me now as the changes it has made in my life are brilliant, and as much as I would love to stay and list them off to each of the teachers after the class, I felt this would be a much more encompassing approach.

Since beginning my practice I’ve dropped some unsightly and dangerous habits I’ve struggled with for at least a decade. I’ve begun to live at a slower pace, my dance practice has improved, not in only in range of motion but in awareness of my full body, my teaching has improved with a much more conscious arrival to class and a more patient approach and I’ve been a largely more relaxed and positive person. With the addition of their mascot Loki (an adorable French Bulldog) and a chesterfield in their lobby the studio has a truly low-key vibe.

So, to the staff at Shanti Yoga, I just wanted to say Happy Valentine’s Day, you are appreciated and you are truly making a difference in the community.

 

Shanti Yoga

Halifax, Dartmouth, Bedford