kRtasaMkalpa. It’s Sanskrit for “one who has formed a resolution.” (Yup, that is the kind of sh*t yogis say.)
I’ve always been a little hesitant of resolutions. The guilt one feels for not quitting smoking or not exercising every day for a year – it hurts the soul, man.
Alas, I have found an attainable goal. This year my resolution is twofold: give back more and do more yoga to find balance in my own life. So, what better way to do it than to combine the two?
I rang out the New Year on December 30 at the Yoga Jam, run by local yoga instructor, Erin Anderson. The regular events are held to raise money for the Africa Yoga Project, which helps empower at-risk African youth by introducing them to the healthy lifestyle and physical and mental benefits of yoga. The program trains Africans to become yoga instructors, and then, in turn, they become employed to teach in their communities to help bring a ray of light to those facing darkness.
“My favourite thing about the Yoga Jam Events in Whistler is the amazing vibe of community coming together in the spirit of giving and in play,” says Erin. “It’s an unusual yoga class because when we practice yoga for others there seems to be a dropping of seriousness and the mood becomes more playful and light. It’s fun.”
The Yoga Jams take place every month or so at the Squamish Lil’Wat Cultural Centre and are frequented by around 70 people. The atmosphere is upbeat with live DJs setting the scene for kids, tourists and locals sweating it out on their mats to a mash-up practice where multiple instructors take turns leading the class. There are even door prizes at the end.
Anderson, who owns White Gold Yoga, has a loyal following of yoga devotees with her light-hearted teaching style and specialized classes like Stiff Guys Yoga and Teen Yoga.
She recently visited Africa to teach classes and see the Africa Yoga Project in action first-hand. Anderson was joined by renowned action sport photographer, Whistlerite Robin O’Neill. You can check out more of Robin’s Africa photos here.
“My biggest takeaway from Africa is that I saw and experienced is that yoga can empower others to give back. I saw a lit up group of youth who had once been living on a dangerous edge now leading others into self-awareness and health,” Erin explains. “They now reach out to the far corners of Africa and it’s changing lives. From what I saw, I take with me the possibility of empowering others to live big, to reach high and to change the world. Why not?”
With passionate yoga leaders in the Whistler community, it’s hard not to feel inspired to take in all that yoga has to offer. In the spirit if giving and receiving, here is what yoga has given Erin:
“Yoga grounded me, gave me a place to come into true presence. Yoga brought me the ability to step into a big life from a very simple place. Yoga allowed me to give to myself so I can give to others.”
Well, if that’s not a good reason to check out the next Yoga Jam, I don’t know what is.
Yoga Jam Events Facebook Page
Africa Yoga Project on Facebook and Twitter (@AfricaYoga)
And more proof that one should never take themselves too seriously: