Life as a Renaissance Man Yogi
Where to begin on this tale of how yoga has woven a thread of change through my life and its transitions and challenges. A friend, long ago, and even before I discovered yoga always called me the modern renaissance man. I was puzzled at first, as my impression was of the old painters, but once I got to understand those old masters, I connected to what my friend had seen in me. I have done and perused many and very diverse things in life and, through much of it, yoga has been the binder, the healer, the sage and the light. Did I seek yoga for this? No, actually it found me, and subtly became part of who I am.
Stepping back in time a few decades, my eclectic beginning was growing up in a small village in northern Algonquin Park where I truly learned to appreciate nature, life and simplicity — though at that time I didn’t realize it. In high school, I became a martial artist, was introduced to Shiatsu. I dug deep into the martial side for 25+ years, acknowledging, but largely ignoring the healing aspects of the arts. Life and career moved on and, for a short few years, I was a semi-pro auto race driver. Racing brought on some inevitable injuries and challenges that the medical system said I would “just have to live with”. Along the way, there were a lot more varied pursuits, writing, sailing, photography, cooking, and discovering my heritage as an Algonquin raised in a “not so indigenous” family in the years to come, but no yoga yet.
So, what does all of this have to do with yoga? Well as it turns out for me, a lot.
Fast forward life again… I have found my life partner Nicky (also a yogi) and we have a son. Nicky became ill and, through that ordeal, she discovered yoga, and it literally saved her life. In the process of her discovering yoga, I began to explore it, seeing the positive changes in her. I too had my issues, so why not give this a try. It was love-hate at first… but that’s how some of the best relationships start. Around this time, I also began a career shift into holistic health, initiated by our frustration with Nicky’s illness, and frustration with the system. As it turned out, I had an affinity for it and a very strong aptitude. It was as if I had done it before and was just refreshing the knowledge. Yoga for me grew at this time as well. By this time, we had opened our first studio in a small northern Ontario town. That was some 19 years ago…
So, what has yoga, and teaching yoga, done for these transitions in life? Well, let’s begin by it being a constant. Going back to school, shifting careers, being a father, dealing with life in general brings its challenges and stressors. Yoga was there. I did not always realize in the moment how important it was, but it was pivotal to my success. Yoga has been pivotal to my understanding of the body, its challenges and utter beauty. I eventually became certified in several Traditional Chinese Medicine modalities, Ayurveda and Kinesiology, and then settled on Myofascial Release Therapy as my specialty. All of this learning was accompanied, assisted and enabled by yoga and, in my perception, could not have happened without it. Through yoga my meditation practice grew, and that grounding kept my head on and centered. Metaphorically and physically as it turns out.
Interestingly, during this time, I was ageing… who knew! I say this jokingly and not jokingly, because changes began to occur, and yoga was there. Many things that I saw others dealing with, I seemed to work out or avoid all together on my mat. This too, I brought to my classes and clients, and I encouraged them to develop their relationship with their mat. It is also thanks to yoga that I could respond truthfully to the question, “How do you do it all?” with the answer, “…it’s because of what I do, that I can do all that I do”. And that’s just it. Without yoga (and my partner Nicky) walking hand in hand through all of these life changes, challenges and growth, it would not have been possible.
So where has this brought me? I’m approaching two decades teaching yoga, wellness, meditation and mindfulness. I have accomplished over 7,000 hours teaching yoga, and I am still in love with my mat. Nicky and I own the Ohana Yoga and Wellness Centre/Training Academy in Callander, ON. We are growing and have been solidly supporting our community for almost two decades. For me, I am not the yogi that I used to be, nor am I the one I desire to be, but I am on my path, teaching what I know. Physically, there are old “permanent” injuries that have essentially disappeared, and some that never will, but I have learned, on the mat, how to deal with them. In this journey, I have learned so much and everyday there is so much more to learn. I love helping people and sharing my passion and what has helped me, and will continue to do that, constantly adapting and learning along the way.
So, a thread it is, weaving its way through life, subtly changing and directing it, mending it and being a constant companion. It’s not a hard sell for those that have discovered it.
So onward I go and I trust, one day, we may meet on the mat.