I started my asana practice when I was 12 years old. My mom would follow Suzanne Deason on a GAIAM DVD every Saturday morning in our basement, and if I was awake, I would join her. I was an anxious child, and even though the true meaning of yoga was not explained to me until my teacher training, I could feel the by-products of the asanas seep into my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual bodies.
Yoga was placed on the back burner as I became more serious about dance. I was taking jazz and ballet at a small, local dance studio and desperately wanted to be good enough to compete, despite the fact that my feet had just undergone surgery a year ago. The perfectionist within me kept striving, and I ached to prove myself to my dance teachers, feeling more and more defeated each time my body betrayed me through its imperfections.
Dancing gradually tapered off as I began life as a university student at SFU. Still unsure of what to do in life, I chose to study Psychology through a process of elimination. Luckily, it still fascinates me to this day. I also unintentionally ended up with a Sociology minor, fascinated by how our society could have so many flaws.
Throughout university, my perfectionism and anxiety continued, and I re-embraced yoga to ease my mind and occupy my body, since my physical activity halted once I quit dance. I avidly studio-hopped via Groupons, soaking up as many yoga teachers’ classes I could. I didn’t realize at the time how luxurious it was to be in a healthy body. Regardless, this was when I gained the majority of my advanced physical yoga practice and knowledge. This is also when thoughts of becoming a yoga teacher began to emerge, but it was not yet time.
When I turned 21 my life drastically changed when a balance disorder emerged. A constant state of swaying and unsteadiness took over, and my anxiety skyrocketed. I only left the house to attend school, which I suffered through immensely, dealing with nausea and the overall discomfort of consistent vertigo. I went through periods of depression, wondering if a life laden with these symptoms was worth living. I went to therapy groups, counseling, and generally just focused on my mental & emotional health. Eventually, a combination of acceptance and the strategies learned through therapy allowed me to cope with the vertigo and I continued on with life.
At 25 years old, after being rejected from UBC for the second time, I had given up on pursuing my Master’s in Occupational Therapy and settled on the Rehabilitation Assistant Program at VCC. The program was intense, 5 days a week full of lectures, labs, and practicums; plus working evenings and weekends at a retail job. I found my body unable to keep up, but that damn inner-perfectionist kept pushing. I tried to ignore my symptoms of fatigue, headaches, and digestive issues as I forced myself to participate in class. Finally, my body gave up on me, and I reluctantly dropped out of the program just 2 weeks before the first semester was over. I moved back in with my parents attempting to navigate what I now know is called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
As I learned more about CFS through both research, and trial-and-error, I was able to heal myself into a state where I was no longer bed-ridden. This led to the question: “what now?”. I knew my body could not handle a typical job, yet I still wanted to fulfill my desire to help people heal (as I had figured out via my previous career ambitions). I was attending Restorative and Yin classes at a yoga studio near my house, and when I asked one of my favourite teachers for advice on where to complete my teacher training, she was so confident in her answer that I applied later that day.
It was through this blessed fate that I met my Karma Teachers family, whom I will always hold dear for supporting me through my healing journey, as well as guiding me through the process of learning how to share the gift of yoga with others. It is through this teacher training that I learned the true meaning of yoga and realized the importance of my spiritual self. This is why I chose the name, “spiritual shaz” – I feel that my past experiences built upon one another and culminated to embrace the spiritual being I am and was always meant to be. I hope that through my guidance and support, I can help each one of you find your spiritual being and hold it as dear to yourself as I do mine.
I aim to make yoga accessible to all – regardless of mental, emotional, or physical limitations. I know that yoga has helped me immensely throughout my life, and I seek to share this gift with whomever is open to receive so that we can all reap the benefits of this practice.
Thank you for taking the time to read through my life story. I believe it is an important aspect to consider when choosing to learn from a yoga teacher, as one’s life experiences guide and enrich the way one teaches.
I wish peace and love to you all,
*All pictures are courtesy of As We Are Style