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My Yoga Journey (the short version)

I first started practicing yoga around 1995, with Burt Peeters back in my hometown of St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. I practiced on and off for many years but didn't commit to a daily practice until I was in my mid-thirties.

In 2012 I took my first yoga teacher training with Deborah Carruthers, who taught me the Ashtanga Primary Series over the course of many months, sometimes just the two of us in the early morning hours in her studio in Duncan, British Columbia.

Me and Deborah Carruthers, a wonderful teacher and counsellor

Me and Deborah Carruthers, a wonderful teacher and counsellor

Around this time I also started working with plant medicines in an intentional way, looking to overcome childhood traumas and the addictions I'd developed over the years as a way to avoid confronting that deep emotional pain. The combination of ayahuasca and a daily yoga practice proved to be incredibly powerful and, over the next few years, I experienced profound healing in my relationships to myself, my partner and my family.

After my initial formal training and certification with Deborah, I started teaching regular group classes and had memorable encounters with teachers Danny Paradise, Chuck Miller, David Garrigues and Nicki Doane. Danny told me to "stay independent" and Chuck told me to "teach only what I know". I come back to this advice all the time. I went a few times to practice with Troy Lucero down in Seattle who showed me some good stuff. Interested in working with at-risk youth, I took the Street Yoga certification course.

Me and Mark Whitwell. Mark changed my life.

Me and Mark Whitwell. Mark changed my life.

Around 2013, looking to learn from direct students of Krishnamacharya and his son TKV Desikachar, I went to meet Mark Whitwell in Vancouver. In my first class with him I experienced a profound shift in my practice which led to me working with him over the next few years, eventually teaching alongside him at retreats at Esalen, Mount Madonna Center and travelling to China in 2015. I also helped him with his website and marketing, and designed and published his book, The Promise (this version).

In 2014 I went to Los Angeles and studied for a month with Srivatsa Ramaswami, a longtime student of Krishnamacharya's, and came home with a teaching certificate in his Vinyasa Krama method. While I was in LA, I went to see Larry Payne at his home studio, had a wonderful class with him and heard some great stories about his time with Desikachar and Krishnamacharya.

Ramaswami teaching me shoulderstand variations, Los Angeles 2014

Ramaswami teaching me shoulderstand variations, Los Angeles 2014

In 2015 I got deeper into the study and practice of Vedic Chanting in the tradition of Krishnamacharya and learned a lot from Sonia Nelson and Danielle Tarantola, both direct students of Desikachar.  In September of that year, I spent a week with the brilliant and amazing Silvia Nakkach, who told me that it was my dharma to combine music, yoga and shamanism. 2015 was really about finding my voice.

In 2016 I started offering Yoga & Music Medicine sessions, combining vinyasa yoga, chanting and shamanic sound journeying.

Around this time I began to feel my work with students on a one-to-one basis could be augmented by some additional training in somatic-oriented Western psychotherapy methods. With the intention of better supporting my students through their own healing process (and continuing to work through my own), I began studying and training in Marshall Rosenberg's Non-Violent Communication, Peter Levine's Somatic Experiencing and Ron Kurtz's Hakomi Method. I've also found a lot of inspiration in the writings of Gabor Maté and John Welwood.

Teaching the principles of breath, Temple of the Way of Light, 2017
Photo: Tony Hoare

In 2017 I realized a lifelong dream of going to the Amazon when I started teaching yoga and offering sound journeys at the Temple of the Way of Light.

Later this year I'll be training with Gabor Maté in his Compassionate Inquiry method and continuing to learn from the Shipibo healers and plant teachers in the Amazon.

In 2018 I hope to return to the Amazon, travel to India to study at the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram, and continue to learn from teachers from all traditions.

• • •

Deep gratitude to all of my teachers, starting with my own parents, Frank and Linda. I wouldn't be where I am today without the unconditional love and support of my dear wife Debbie. Hugs and kisses to my doggie gurus, Kingston and Sweetie who have taught me invaluable lessons about forgiveness, non-attachment and stopping to smell the flowers. Much respect to the plant teachers and the ones who know and openly share the ways of the plants.