As a teenager, in high school, I struggled. My teenage years were definitely the worst years of my life. My parents had split. Social pressures got to me. I struggled to keep my grades up. My relationships suffered. My relationship with myself was not loving enough. I experienced abuse, toxicity and traumatizing amounts of pain. 

          It was around this time that I found yoga. Yoga immediately became my escape – my paradise— my freedom. I started off by simply visiting local studios and trying their classes. I passionately latched onto yoga, going to classes regularly, finding it online and really soaked up as much as I could. It was so healing. It led to a whole new way of thinking, living and even, breathing. It also led to new ideas regarding self care. 

          So flash forward through all those up-and-down high school years, it’s the end of senior year. I go over to my best friend’s house and we’re discussing our futures. I told her that I had gotten accepted into a university and planned on going. She studied this for a few seconds before asking me:

“Is that what you really want?” 

          She asked me what I love. Then she asked me what I’m passionate about. I suddenly realized I was on auto-pilot during this time in my life, making half decisions full of uncertainty. All I could truly say to my friend was: yoga. I love yoga. Yoga frees me, heals me, and I wish I could do it all the time, every day. That’s when my friend said:

“Then do that! Pursue yoga!” 

          She woke me up to my own dreams that day. Since then, I have realized I made the right decision to listen to my friend and pursue my passion for yoga, as this path has taken me down avenues of wellness, wholeness, freedom and true happiness. 

          When I told my mom I didn’t want to go to university and instead I wanted to become a yoga teacher, she was very supportive. It was my mom who found my first yoga teacher training. A 320 hour, month-long intensive yoga teacher training that took place in the beautiful land of Tuscany, Italy. 

          That month was the first time I was away from home for a month by myself, in a place I had never been to before, living with people I hadn’t known, eating all new food and learning all new things. I not only learned about yoga, I learned deeply about myself, culture, superfood, veganism and much more. 

          When I flew back home to Toronto from Tuscany, I felt the most alive I’ve ever felt. I loved my new way of existing and wanted to continue learning yoga. My cousin, Caroline, had mentioned a yoga teacher training in Toronto that seemed similar to my first training but not as specialized. This other training seemed to be the missing component to reaching my goal of being a yoga instructor. My mom supported me in this endeavour and then off I was, once again, studying and practicing my favourite thing with one of my cousins by my side. 

          During this time, I also remember my favourite place was Farmacia Health Bar. The owner (Steve) and I pretty much became best friends. In his health bar he prepares and sells superfood smoothies, organic juices, organic snacks made with superfood… really awesome fuel for the body! Steve inspires me infinitely. 

          The plant-based fuel and superfood opened my eyes to how food affects health. Beyond that, I learned a little about shamanism. Steve taught me about fungi, fasting, rapé, sananga and much more.

          Then one day I walked into Farmacia Health Bar, and Steve wasn’t working and instead I chatted with another employee. She was also a part-time student. When I asked her where she went to school, she told me: Transformational Arts College of Spiritual and Holistic Training. I had never heard of it before but I was immediately interested. That same day, I looked up the college online and fell in love with their courses. Fast forward to that fall, I was newly enrolled in their Holistic Health Practitioner Program. 

          Not only did I meet bright, phenomenaal souls there, but I learned some of my most valuable lessons that totally sculpted me into who I am right now. I learned about all the different kinds of healing herbs, how to make herbal tinctures, from herbology class. I learned about the chakras, energetic pathways, and the human aura. I learned about vibrational, sound and colour therapy. Powerful and sacred knowledge that often goes overlooked. Too overlooked. I felt destined to share what I learned in hopes to really help those who need it. The yoga teacher trainings, holistic schooling, and accumulated knowledge I gained on my healing journey is the foundation of Maple Yoga.