There’s more than one way to get your asana on in the Comox Valley.
I once practiced yoga regularly. During good stretches, I was attending class two to three days per week, and meeting my mat at home at least twice a week for a quickie. I’d even attempt some meditation once a week for good measure, but quieting my mind proved more challenging than expected. That’s a whole other story…
Those were the days. Less stress, more flexibility, and general overall contentment. One could say that I had almost achieved a sense of peace. I certainly felt great, looked great, and acted great.
But, like people, life comes in many shapes and sizes and it tends to undergo change. I had a kid, and the life I knew drastically shifted. Most of those changes weren’t surprising, but, without warning, my yoga practice went from raise-the-roof awesome to non-existent in the blink of an eye. Sadly, it wasn’t fortified against the daily onslaught of sleeplessness and continuous tending to the needs of a small human. I lost yoga to motherhood.
Time passed, and there became less of it. I became a grumpy, slightly overweight, and depressed version of a girl I once knew. I certainly didn’t like her, let alone recognize what she had become. Sure, she had a few of the characteristics I once adored—like humour and wit—but there was an overpowering sense of sadness and frustration that masked everything else. And she most certainly didn’t feel, or look, healthy.
Near the tail end of 2007, I made the move from Victoria to the Comox Valley. Island life is good—really, really good—but Comox Valley living is in a class of its own. It’s no secret that it’s amazing here, but it probably should be. Beyond all that natural beauty and plethora of outdoor activities, there’s an abundance of food, drink, art, music, entrepreneurial spirit, and ways to help you live a healthy active lifestyle—like yoga.
After settling in and endlessly exploring the sea and the forest with my little sidekick, there remained an empty space in both my heart and my head. The foundation I once had to steady myself had crumbled, and I was jonesing for some yoga and time to hold space for myself. Luckily, I was about to find out that this community is filled with an assortment of yogis and welcoming spaces.
As I roamed the streets of Cumberland early one frosty winter morning armed with coffee, music, and a sleepy toddler nestled in his stroller, I came across a home-based yoga studio that stopped me in my tracks. The house remained dark, but the attached studio emitted a glowing warmth that I’ll never forget. Fixated by the light, I parked the stroller, knocked lightly, opened the door, and quietly made my way inside. Immediately inhaling deeply through my nose, I took in the sweet scent of incense and lingering sweat. The palms of my hands softly drew together at my chest—my heart centre—and I slowly lowered by forehead towards my fingertips offering myself to this space.
A door creaked and I looked up to find a man quietly entering the space. He looked at me, smiled, and told me I was a few hours early for class. I explained how I was drawn to the space as I was walking by, and he asked me if I’d like to join him for a quick vinyasa before his son woke up. I told him about my sleeping toddler in the stroller outside, and asked for a class schedule. I returned later that day for class, and continued a regular practice for nearly two years—right up until a few days before my second child was born.
Unfortunately, this intimate little studio closed its doors not long after the birth of my daughter. While it was hard to say goodbye to a space that I’d grown to love, many of us continued to practice together for years after—and still do to this day.
Again finding motherhood busy and overwhelming, and left searching for a quiet space to connect and reflect, I remained vigilant with a daily practice at home. A fifteen-minute vinyasa can go a long way, and I was determined to keep the peace and remnants of myself intact.
Keeping in touch with fellow yogis, home practices, and dropping in at a few studios around The Valley here and there kept my yogic soul alive. Over the years, I’ve managed to maintain a balance of breath, movement, and meditation within the dance of life. My yoga practice is nowhere near what it once was, but neither am I.
Yoga is much more than a sequence of boring stretches. Its poses are strong and fierce; open and vulnerable. Yoga is both restorative and invigorating. It is exactly what you make of it. It reflects and resonates with how you feel that day; where you may need to look, and where you may need to hide.
Yoga is most definitely not a one-pin-fits-in-the-hole kind of deal. It’s a choose-your-own adventure lifestyle, and there are three great yoga studios in the Comox Valley that display a diversity of yoga practices: Bikram Yoga Comox Valley, Cumberland Physio & Yoga, and The Doghouse.
Located in downtown Courtenay, Bikram Yoga Comox Valley offers a style of yoga that detoxifies the body and challenges the mind. They’ve been heating up the Comox Valley since 2006 with a trademark sequence of 26 Hatha yoga postures and two breathing exercises practiced in a heated room. The heat and humidity of the hot studio helps with deep stretching by easing the muscles and joints into the postures quickly for maximum benefit, and encourages detoxification through the skin.
Bikram Yoga Comox Valley has a dedicated community of hot yogis that take advantage of over a dozen teachers, each with their own individual teaching style, and a full offering of classes seven days a week.
Located in the heart of Cumberland, Cumberland Physio & Yoga combines physiotherapy with the art of yoga practices of breath, movement, meditation, and balanced lifestyle to provide the community with an integrated approach to therapy and optimum health. Offering physiotherapy, Hatha yoga classes, and yoga therapy, Cumberland Physio & Yoga helps people heal, move, and discover how their bodies function.
Offering an integrated holistic approach to health, Cumberland Physio & Yoga inspires, educates, and empowers people to heal and connect with their bodies, take better care of themselves, and live healthy, functional lives.
The Doghouse is located on a picturesque property in Courtenay, and offers intimate, small Ashtanga-based yoga classes in a 1000 square foot studio complete with wood burning stove and beautiful garden views. They offer 10-week fall, winter, and spring class sessions with a specific focus on themes such as the yamas and niyamas, Ayurveda and the elements, the chakras, and more. Throughout the summer months, there is a limited class schedule and various outdoor classes and events throughout the Comox Valley. They also facilitate a variety of workshops throughout the year that range from Ayurvedic cooking classes, seasonal herbal wisdom, meditation, yin yoga, vinyasa, and philosophy. They also bring in well-known yoga teachers to share their knowledge and style.
The Doghouse is a heart-centered yoga studio that fosters community and provides a welcoming space to be in your body, listen, learn, and share.
So, however you arrive at your mat, close your eyes, take a deep breath, quiet your mind, and find your flow. If you let it in, yoga will completely change your life. But don’t take my word for it, go experience it for yourself.