Tag Archives: www.bramlevinsonyoga.com

In A Nutshell

Late last week I received an email from someone creating a database of yoga teachers to provide him with a short biography of myself in relation to yoga, and once I wrote it, I realized that it communicated more about myself and my reasons for following this path than any other bio I’ve written thus far, so I wanted to post it here for you all and hope that it tells you more about me than you already knew:

I began seeking out yoga classes in 1999 after tiring of the more conventional exercise options, and found my first teacher’s studio across the street from where I lived. The shift from a physical to a spiritual practice quickly followed, and after 9 years of practice, I left my job in retail management to immerse myself in yoga studies and I soon began teaching. My main reason for making the change was because I felt I was wasting my time, not honoring my reason for being alive. Yoga helped me find my voice and I soon found myself with students eager to hear what I felt compelled to share with them. Being able to provide guidance, insight and light to people has been the by-product of living my dharma, and I live in a perpetual state of gratitude for having the strength and vision to listen to my intuition that told me I was meant for greater things than selling material goods to people who didn’t really want them.

As a teacher, certain moments pop up as highlights, markers on my path encouraging me onwards: becoming a Lululemon Ambassador in 2010, and then finding myself teaching in the street in downtown Montreal for Lululemon two years later and having 85 people show up bright and early on a Sunday morning. Leading my first solo retreat in Santorini, Greece and having everyone who participated walk away from the experience richer and more grounded in their own selves. Co-organizing Montreal’s 2010 & 2011 Yoga Mala and raising over $15,000 for local non-profit organizations. All these things have solidified my certainty as to being on the right path, but more than any of that, I am fortunate enough to be told on an almost daily basis that I am making a difference in other people’s lives. That alone is everything I could ever want.

What I want to share with the world, regardless of whether I’m communicating with newcomers to yoga, new teachers, or seasoned teachers is this: yoga provides a shift. In perspective, in understanding, and in connection. It allows us to separate the temporary trivialities that we typically spend all our time fussing over from the stuff that really matters: who we are, why we’re here, and how we are connected to each other and the world that supports us, despite our ever-growing negligence towards it. It teaches us that we are greater than our job titles, than our bodies, than our insecurities, than our roles as mother/father/sister/brother/son/daughter. It shows us what to focus on so that at the end of our journey, we can look back on our lives and  see the beauty of our spirituality, and that’s what we take with us. It really changes everything, and wakes us up to the openness and possibilities that have always been accessible to us, but that we never saw because our vision was clouded. Yoga removes that cloudiness and allows light to pour through. That’s yoga to me 🙂

Truer Words

As the first month of 2010 comes to an end, I find myself exactly where I hoped I would be when I mentally mapped out the changes in my life, the first steps of which were taken in late 2008. Leaving my earlier career behind meant spending 2009 hard at work and immersed in my studies, getting the education I needed to move towards working full-time as a yoga teacher and manager of a yoga studio. I basically gave myself two years to accomplish what I felt was the bare minimum to justify all the time and expenses that were invested in my new endeavours.

As I mentioned in my Quickpost from the first day of the year, I have never been fond of New Year’s resolutions, as I preferred to incorporate the changes I wanted to make in my life into my everyday existence as opposed to choosing one day out of the year to do so. Regardless, 2010 is the first year for which I took time to sit down and think about what I wanted to accomplish over the ensuing 12 months, and as uncomfortable as I was dealing with financial goals, I wrote them down regardless. My friend Vanessa once told me that despite not wanting to be motivated by money, we should never feel the burden of guilt from wanting to live life comfortably, without having to worry over finances. Her advice has become a pseudo-mantra for me, and so I found myself on January 1, 2010 writing my goals, some financial, others not.

Four weeks to the day, I find myself amazed and humbled by the workings of the universe. After working tirelessly coordinating and preparing my website (www.bramlevinsonyoga.com), after marketing myself with nothing but ambition fuelling my actions, I have started to see all the effort, hard work and time pay off in the form of private classes, corporate classes and requests to join studios to teach group classes. As incredible opportunity after incredible opportunity continue to present themselves, my appreciation for life continues to swell as does my gratitude to the people who have encouraged me and picked me up when I let discouragement get the better of me. My primary reason for shedding my past career was to see if I could create a professional life for myself that was capable of matching the perfection I am blessed with in my personal life, and I am now seeing that occur, which motivates me even more to continue on this path.

I’m sharing all of this for a reason…I want everyone who finds themselves in a situation that is not to their liking to understand an incredibly basic, but often incomprehensible truth: we are the masters of our lives, and we have the power to change our lives through hard work and a steadfast perseverance, never taking “no” for an answer. Throughout my life I have heard people say that hard work is the only road to success, and I’m not sure if I was ready to apply myself without knowing what I was working towards, or if I thought those words just fell into the growing pail of clichés I heard people slinging around. I now know that truer words have never been spoken.

Yoga is often described as “wisdom in work”, which might explain why it feels so natural for me to immerse myself in it daily, as it taps into the innate wisdom and energy we are all born with, yet conditioned to suppress as we buy into, or make agreements with, the values that society glorifies. As we get older, we continually make decisions based on how we can better integrate into the world we live in, regardless of whether those choices are really beneficial to us as individuals. The most we can hope for is that some of us have some sort of awakening which joggles us out of our dream of reality, allowing us to recognize that the decisions we’ve made may not have been the ones we really needed to make, and that it’s never too late to re-direct our intentions and efforts towards the life we know we could (and should) be living. Understanding that happiness does indeed lie in our own hands makes all the difference, all we have to do is make that connection. Practicing yoga is one of the best ways to change how we see the world we live in and our respective (and collective) roles in it. Unifying the body, breath and mind brings us back to the simplicities of life. Practicing postures we’re not entirely comfortable with teaches us to focus and breathe through life’s more challenging moments. Inverting the body in postures such as Sirsasana, Pinchu Mayurasana and Sarvangasana conditions us to look at everything from a different perspective. And that’s what it’s all about. Looking at the world with new eyes, with innocence and humility, always a student ready to learn, understanding that we are the managers of the blessings in our lives, that we do not own them.

So I continue doing what I’m doing, allowing my life to unfold into the perfect lotus flower I was dreaming of over a year ago, and I offer it up for all to see, as an example of what is, what can be, and what always was. And for that I’m grateful 🙂