Tag Archives: Jennifer Maagendans

An Homage to Luna Yoga on its 14th Anniversary!

IMG_3113I first came to Luna Yoga in the late summer of 2008. Until that point, I had practiced a much gentler style of yoga with the first teacher I was blessed to find along my journey, Joan Ruvinsky. I was initially introduced to the deeply rooted philosophical teachings that Joan incorporates, but I soon found myself craving a more physical practice. I had quickly formed a home practice after first starting in yoga, and as I found myself attempting more advanced postures at home, I always kept an element of caution to my movement, knowing I needed to find a space where I could be supervised as I went deeper into it. My sister from another mister, Sonia Papasimakis-Collins, was at that time the Store Manager of the Ste-Catherine St Lululemon store and had been telling me for months that I had to come try this teacher whose studio was in Old Montreal, and whose classes were beyond what she ever could have expected from a yoga session.

I hemmed and hawed, super intimidated to actually put my feet down in a studio where I assumed most of the other students had established practices that would leave me struggling to catch up. It was only after Sonia brought her illustrious teacher and owner of Luna Yoga, Jennifer Maagendans, to my home that I decided to just let go of my fears and see what lay in wait for me at the studio in Old Montreal. The rest, as they say, is history.

IMG_2769From my first class, I felt I was home. The energy that spills out of the studio itself is indescribable. In equal measures peaceful and stimulating, I found a missing part of myself within the security of those four walls. I spent the next few months attending classes and deepening my practice while developing a real, true friendship with Jenn, and then with her partner Jason Kent. Sonia had told me that Jason was a tough sell, hard to get to know, but I knew I was on the right track when his response to my calling him Debbie Downer at our first meeting was met with a reluctant grin (accompanied by Jenn’s sheer delight in Jason being addressed as such by a stranger :)).

Little did I know that the events that brought me to Luna would serve as the foundation for the next  chapter of my life, in which I would completely leave my then-career behind with no clue as to what I would do job-wise. Events unfolded that saw Jenn ask me if I would be interested in co-managing her studio, saw Jenn challenge me to follow my heart and pursue careers in the domains that nurtured my soul, and saw Jenn take time out of our workdays to train me one-on-one to complement the Ashtanga training I was doing in 2009. Jenn became the person who, with little pomp or grandeur, illuminated the path ahead of me and simply helped me re-shift my gaze so I could see it as a viable possibility, one that has since brought me to a place where I continually, and on a daily basis, am reminded of the blessings that being true to one’s Self bestows. Jenn challenged me in those training sessions to teach her as a group class, as an individual private class, and as a private group class, but her teachings didn’t end there: she led by example, in every single thing she did and said. She continues to do so, demonstrating how by combining passion, a strong work ethic, and proper attention paid to that which comes naturally can propel one further along one’s dharmic path. She constantly challenges me to be a better version of myself, even when she’s completely oblivious to it.

So what has Jenn been to me? An opener of doors, a pillar of support, the remover of darkness, and the swelling of laughter that buoys my own giggles past the point of control. She believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself, and she continues to be my guru, my mentor, my example, confidante, and friend.

And Jason? Without Jason, I’m not sure Luna would even have gotten off the ground. Jason was a huge support for Jenn when she was first considering opening a studio, and has been ever since. If Jenn has become my soul-sister, then Jason is my soul-brother. A fellow Libran, Jason reflects back to me my own habits and tendencies, and he has grown from Jenn’s partner into a true friend, someone who has helped me, often without even being aware of it, when I most needed it. His heights of sarcasm and jest are matched in kind by the depths of his kindness and sensitivity.

1E0A7408-resizeJenn and Jason are the real deal. They have built up the studio over the last fourteen years with the sheer force of their collective will and focus, creating a home for the teachers they have welcomed into their fold, as well as a space for me to bring my business knowledge into their creation, and then topping it all off with the two most beautiful little boys to add to their brood of yogic misfits.

On July 13, our community will celebrate Luna Yoga’s 14th anniversary. The studio they originally started with limited funds and maximal dreams 14 years ago has grown into a force to be reckoned with, with its own sold-out Teacher Training Program, as well as classes and workshops that reflect the diversity of the students who call Luna Yoga home, all the while maintaining its grassroots feel and sense of real, true community. Luna has students who have been around since before the studio opened its doors. This is more than a testament to the studio’s location or teachings: it’s a testament to Jenn and Jason.

If you’ve got a glass handy, raise it to these two, whose drive and ability to weather the toughest of storms has kept Luna’s doors open for well over a decade. If you don’t have a glass, then close your eyes for a moment, and silently send them a kind thought. They continue to show how doing something for others always brings you to where you need to be, and they do so with respect, intelligence, and grace.

Happy anniversary to you both, J & J, and to the entire Luna family, past, present and future!

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Winding Down

I’ve just lay down on the couch with the winter storm wind howling past the windows of my flat and my dog curled up asleep against my legs. Today marks the end of in-class teaching for me for 2012, and the past few days I’ve felt this post taking form in my mind. Now feels like the right time to get it all down and attach the symbology of words to it.

This year has proven to be another massive opportunity for growth and learning, and as each year passes, I realize that that is what’s constantly available to us: the opportunity to view all that occurs in our lifetime as catalysts for growth and change. I do my best to ensure that every class I teach, every student I mentor, and every word I speak or write conveys certain things to those with whom my path crosses: that yoga is a big toolbox that provides us with what we need to live life fully, passionately, with full awareness and presence of mind…that we have the choice as to how we approach and end up living this life we’ve been blessed with…that how and where we find ourselves is exactly how and where we need to be to accomplish and fulfill our goals and dharma. We are each here for a reason – you are not reading this by accident, and you are not alive in this moment in time haphazardly. We each have a mission to carry out, and I believe that mine is to bring people together by waking them up to what matters on a fundamental, heartfelt level.

20121222-171342.jpgWith that said, I would get nothing communicated or expressed if no one thought me worthy of their time and attention. I’ve expressed my gratitude to students before, but this year has brought me to a place where simple gratitude pales in comparison to how I feel about those of you who encourage me to keep teaching, typing, and barreling onwards.

To those of you who have come to my classes, I thank you. To those of you who have joined me on retreats, I thank you. To those of you who have participated in the workshops and teacher training I’ve given, I thank you. To those of you who have followed my blog and taken the time to read my words, I thank you. To those of you who have taken any of my insight to heart and let it guide you closer to a place of truth and light, I thank you. To those of you who have laughed with me, I thank you. To those of you who have let down your guard and shared your stories, your suffering, your hopes and your journeys, I thank you. To those of you who have trusted me enough to come to me when it mattered, I thank you. To those of you who have taught me when you had no idea you were doing so, I thank you. To those of you whom I’ve disappointed and had enough respect and love for me to let me know the error of my ways, I thank you. To those of you who have let me assist in your healing, I thank you. To those of you who have shared your energy with me, I thank you. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart, and will never stop doing so.

To my teachers who have provided me space in their spheres of wisdom, namely Joan Ruvinsky, Jennifer Maagandans, Mark Darby, Kelly McGrath, Sharon Gannon, and David Life, I thank you. With my head bowed in humility and my heart open to learning, I thank you.

My path has been and continues to be blessed with messengers and bearers of light, and my hope is that in attempting to do them justice by passing on the wisdom bestowed upon them by their teachers, I can reflect and project that light as brightly and brilliantly as they do.

Without them, and without you all, I would merely be speaking words into empty space.

With love and heartfelt gratitude for you all, I wish you the brightest, happiest and healthiest of holidays. Thank you for accompanying me on this journey, and we’ll see where it takes us in 2013!

My Raison-D’Être

As most people are doing at this time of year, I’m finding myself reflecting on the past 12 months and everything that they have offered…remembering where my head-space was at this time last year and how I put down in black and white what my goals would be for 2010…how 2010 would be the year to see if a career in Yoga would be financially feasible, if I could still support myself and pay the mortgage while pursuing what I consider to be my mission in this life. After a year of hard work and a clear vision, I now find myself at the tail end of what will go down in my personal history book as the “Year of Firsts”.

From co-organizing my first foray into philanthropy alongside Dawn Mauricio, Vanessa Muri and Fanny Poveda with the 2010 Yoga Mala, to promoting the event on TV…from teaching 3 times the amount of private classes I had set as my goal for the year to having one of those classes be with one of my long-time idols, Margaret Cho…from completing my teacher training to co-leading Yoga retreats in Tulum, Mexico & Eastman, Quebec…from getting married (*gasp*) to visiting Spain & Portugal…from bringing my practice to a new level to filming the “Yoga Flo for the Earth” DVD with my partner in crime (and all things enlightening) Jennifer Maagendans…from becoming an ambassador for Lululemon to being flown to Vancouver for their Ambassador Summit…and these are only the highlights that come to mind immediately…it’s been a watershed year for me, one that has set the tone for the rest of my life. Having reflected on and taken stock of all these amazing moments, what I hold closest to my heart and my soul is that I am doing something with my life that allows me to contribute to the people I find myself blessed to be surrounded by, and to the universe itself.

The only reason I do what I do is because it provides me with a platform from where I can offer alternate avenues for approaching life, death and all that is. It allows me to verbalize what often proves to be confusing and convoluted in words that are comprehensible, and more importantly, practical and applicable. I doubt that I will ever be the textbook yogi who communes with Being by retreating to the mountains in solitude and renouncing the householding life…that’s not who I am and it’s not where I feel I can influence society and culture. Yoga, for me, is a system of tools that allows me to live right here, right now, in the life that I’ve spent decades building for myself, with an innate sense of peace and calm, and with a direct link to what affects every aspect of my physical, mental, emotional and energetic bodies – my breath. Being able to control the breath gives me incredible clarity and focus, and it’s largely due to this clarity that I find myself feeling compelled to convey the information that I feel most relevant and insightful…that which actually offers options and different approaches to digesting what we live in our daily lives so that we can have lives filled with peace, happiness and laughter…always laughter 🙂

It would be remiss of me to not thank you all for allowing me to have a forum where the intention behind (and accompanying) my words is afforded a destination. The support and encouragement you offer is what keeps me going, what motivates me to continue to express what I feel needs to be expressed, and with the last year behind me,  I can see with that almost blinding clarity that the universe really does provide, and that when something is pure in intention and deed, it can’t help but be good.

Sending a flood of light to you all, and wishing you all the happiness and health I can conjure up for 2011 🙂