Portraits by Asim Pt 1/3

Last year I was lucky enough to step in front of the lens of Asim Overstands. Being in front of a camera is an awkward thing, it exposes our vulnerabilities in raw and vivid moments that are captured real-time. I absolutely love photography, and have a true respect for all of the shooters out there.

This is the first of a three-part series with Asim, shot all in the same day. It focuses on my passion for movement in various forms.

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Whole time they wanna take your place

“Life is amazing. And then it’s awful. And then it’s amazing again. And in between the amazing and awful it’s ordinary and mundane and routine. Breathe in the amazing, hold on through the awful, and relax and exhale during the ordinary. That’s just living heartbreaking, soul-healing, amazing, awful, ordinary life. And it’s breathtakingly beautiful.”
L.R. Knost

Recently this was read in one of my yoga classes led by the lovely Bobbi at illume. No matter what happens in my life, it seems that yoga is where I find myself again. Yoga is both my therapy and my celebration, it is where I connect with both my true and higher self. It is where I find my edges and smooth them out, where I find my potential, my challenges, where I workshop my roadblocks.

I for one know, (as many others know all too well) that life does not always go as you plan. Sometimes the things you put your heart into, that you work in earnest for do not always work out the way you envision. All of the hours of sweat and toil and sleepless nights may, in the end lead to disappointment. Life is full of disappointments, of heartbreaks, of situations that will test you in one form or the other. Everyone will have their own individual struggle.

Often though, there will be “collateral beauty” in even the worst situations. If you haven’t seen Collateral Beauty I would highly recommend it, Will Smith knocks it out of the park with his performance as a bereaved father. Understanding how death ultimately makes us see life in a new light. In the same sense how recent hurdles have made me take a step back to re-evaluate my life and the things I want to focus my energy on.

They say that you only fail when you quit. Sometimes it feels as if you are fighting an uphill battle though, where the odds are against you, people doubt you, and you feel perpetually exhausted. Taking a timeout is sometimes the best thing you can do, either on or off your mat. When life takes the wind out of your sails you can either change direction or start paddling.

Just because something is ‘out of your comfort zone’ does not make it out of your capacity. If you currently feel deflated, I’ll leave you with this:

For now, I’m going to keep pushing upward and onwards, I hope that you do too, my friends.

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portraits by Asim

Knock on Opportunity’s Door

Knock on opportunity’s door, and when there is no answer keep knocking. Find all of the doors and keep knocking. Then, find the windows, either someone you know, or someone that sees your effort will eventually let you in.

This post is for anyone that is just starting out, whether that be as a potential teacher or anyone pursuing something new for the first time. I will share my stories, of how I got my opportunities in this city, maybe if just to spark a bit of inspiration. To encourage you to go for things, even if you may or may not know what exactly it is you are reaching for. To ride through the waves of disappointment and rejection, and to keep trying.

I completed my first 200 YTT in 2011, (for anyone that doesn’t know that is a 200h yoga teacher training) and at that point I did not really want to teach. Although I did dabble with a few private lessons here and there, these were far and few in between. This did however plant the seed for the things to come in my life years later.

Coming back to Calgary that year, I did a few random things, one of which was working at Village Ice Cream. I figured after completing my Honours degree in Biotechnology, why not? During my stint at Village Ice Cream I also started teaching MMA Bootcamps at Athlima Fitness, which is run out of the martial arts studio where I had completed my black belt. I had originally asked the owner of Athlima, Master Bobby Triantifillou if he need a yoga teacher, and instead he was looking for a trainer. I began training at Athlima, and started to lead weekly bootcamps.

What started as a hobby for me soon turned into a passion as I found my foothold in fitness.

Seeing results in my own body and mind created the impetus to pursue fitness further. Completing my personal training certification was the start, as I decided to deepen my knowledge in yoga, movement and all things that made me feel alive.

At the beginning of 2016 I took a Yin Yoga Teacher Training with Ning Gao. Ning’s personal story is quite inspiring, and her strength as a yogi and teacher drew me to the Yoga and Beyond community. There was one night I arrived late at the training and was locked out, instead of leaving I decided to stay. Shortly after the training I got a call from Ning saying there were a few spots at the studio open to teach. This was my first official teaching position as a yoga instructor at a studio.

My second try at a studio position was at illume hot yoga, which I chose initially because of its proximity to my house. At first they were not hiring for yoga teachers. One day I was passing by the studio and the owner, Telara Renz called me in and asked if I would be interested in Surfset. Not knowing what that was I took the opportunity to learn and expand. Eight months later I am teaching not only surfset, but yoga as well as spin at illume.

This last story, and probably most interesting, is how I was hired on by Undrcard Boxing Studio. I had applied online and got the generic HR reply, “we are full but will keep your resume on file etc etc”. In the meantime I had interviewed for a few other studios. Around the same time, local photographer Asim Overstands and I decided to do a shoot. We had been in discussion about shooting for about a year but I never felt ready. Asim made the process really casual and I was actually happy with the results. He posted a moving portrait of me shadow boxing on his instagram feed and Joanna Magik, a co-owner of Undrcard came across it. We were introduced via Asim via email and I was invited to Undrcard’s second pop-up event at Commonwealth. I met some of the team and mid-way through the event was told I was part of the crew!

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#UNDRCARDPOPUP at Commonwealth, photo via Michael Benz.

So there you have it, a mix of connections, fortune, timing, and tenacity got me to where I am today.

Here’s the video by Asim

 

 

Sun Salutations for Surya

What a year.

It’s not even half way through the first month and already, two times has death been brought closer to my reality. During the holidays my friend’s puppy almost died on me, and just recently my friend and fellow yogi Scot Schiebelbien (Surya) had to undergo an 18h surgery for a brain tumour.

Surya has always been the picture of health, with his rock hard abs, fiery spirit, huge smile and his inspiring acro yoga practice. Acro yoga is a physical practice combining acrobatics and yoga. There is nothing like the freedom and strength you experience coming into some of the poses in acro yoga. It is generally practiced with another person or in a group, so fostering trust and releasing fear are also big themes.

Needless to say it was a surprise to myself, and all of us that have known Surya of his emergency and life-threatening condition.

surya3Surya, again going against the odds is recovering and regaining function. I hope to see him soon, but am giving him a bit more space and time with family and those closest before reaching out.

The one thing I love about the yoga community is the willingness to come together and support each other. I am grateful to call both illume hot yoga and Yoga and Beyond studios where I both teach at and call home. Both of these studios are fundraising on behalf of Surya to support him during his recovery.

Last night at illume we held an hour long sun salutation practice led by both myself and the owner, Telara Renz. It was a challenging and lighthearted practice with ten others from our community. That was actually the first time I have done a continuous sun salutation practice, but there is something about moving with breath in that way. It is like after a certain point you get into a zone and it lifts your to a different level of consciousness almost. Last night also highlighted to me the importance of proper alignment when doing sun salutations, one thing that my recent training with YogaWorks has emphasized.

Yoga and Beyond is continuing to hold fundraising classes for Surya, please check the schedule for times and information. Another way to help is online through his gofundme campaign: Help Surya Fly Again.

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