Yoga at Kula Wellness Centre
In summer 2010, we checked in with Pemberton’s newest hotspot for holistic health, the Kula Wellness Centre. After getting the massage therapy clinic up and running, owners Percy Abraham and Corinne von Dehn turned their attention to outfitting a yoga studio, which has offered karma yoga for the past 18 months. Now, decked out with bamboo floors, an awesome vibe, Halfmoon yoga props and a full teaching schedule, Karma Garage Yoga has become a fully-fledged yoga studio in Pemberton with classes at $10. Follow Kula Wellness Centre on facebook to stay up-to-date with the class schedule. We asked yogi Corinne von Dehn to tell us more about her practice and the delicate art of balancing family, work and fitness, and why their studio is named Kula, which is Sanskrit for community.
Where is Kula Wellness Centre’s yoga studio?
7714 Guthrie Road. 4 km down the Meadows.
How many people come?
It varies between 2 and 20. All levels, all ages, both men and women.
What classes do you offer?
Yoga is on Mondays at 5:30pm, Tuesdays at 7pm, Wednesdays at 5:30pm, and Thursday 5:15pm and 7pm. We are offering a Yin class on Wed at 7pm starting March 7 and Restorative class at 5pm on Sundays starting March 4th.
What prompted you to start doing this? Your life is busy enough, isn’t it? As a massage therapist, mom, gardener, athlete…
When I finished my teacher training 2 years ago, one thing my teacher Kristin Campbell said was to start teaching right away. It came to me: Why can’t I start teaching in the garage that we just re-did? It has huge picture windows, a high ceiling, it was a beautiful space meant for the kids to play in, but it turned out to be perfect for a yoga studio.
How long have you been practicing yoga?
I did my first yoga class, a hatha class with a lovely lovely old lady, over 20 years ago. I have been seriously practicing since I moved to Pemberton – about 12 years. I have an almost-daily practice.
What drove you towards it?
In the beginning, I was drawn to the physical aspect of it. I think most people are. It developed into a realization that I could bring attention and awareness onto my mat. You have to really be present when you are practicing yoga, because you have to focus on your breath. It was an opportunity to not only be in my body but also to be present in my awareness.
What I love about yoga is when I get into the physical postures, it becomes a moving meditation for me.
I think it has helped me so much in the rest of my life. That’s where I’ve noticed the most profound effects of my practice. Being a mom, a massage therapist – I have become way more intuitive as a practitioner, as far as what the client needs. I’ve become more in tune with my own body, when I’m out of alignment, I’m able to align myself when I’m on my mat. The challenge is taking that amazing optimal blueprint into my daily life. It helps me respond and react to daily life and all that gets thrown at you. There’s discipline in the practice. It’s a physical challenge, and a challenge to stay focussed and not let your mind wander. Having a strong physical practice can be a gateway to awareness.
How did you transition from practicing yoga yourself, to teaching it?
For several years, I wanted to do the teacher training course, just to further my training and study the poses, the philosophy, sanskrit etc. To be honest, standing in front of people and telling them what to do is not something I wanted to do. I find it challenging to lead a group of people. It’s really huge. As a teacher you always have to be present, there, fully authentic for your students. I don’t know everything about yoga, never will. It’s not that I wanted super badly to teach yoga. But when I started I realized that I could rise to the challenge and it would strengthen me. It’s empowering to do something difficult, and to grow and have fun with it. I really want people to feel changes happening in the body. I stress alignment. My background in anatomy and physiology give me an understanding of how the body works. My goal is to teach smart yoga, in a way that people aren’t going to hurt themselves, and so people can start to understand how their body works, how their body moves, how their body heals. Maybe it will help people heal, and learn about their emotions and how those emotions tie into the body.
How does your training and work as a massage therapist inform your teaching practice?
My anusara training, which focuses on precise body alignment has really helped me as a massage therapist. It had a profound effect in that, I felt like I had a renewed understanding of how the body works. The principles of alignment really work. Not only in a physical way — the goal is to bring the body into an optimal “blueprint” of steadiness, without suffering, hardening, etc. Then you can expand from that point, balance, steadiness, which can then make room for light, spaciousness. Sometimes, you find a point in a yoga pose, where there is an effortlessness, and you feel a lightness, and expanding energy, and it just feels good. Some people call it going beyond the physical, connecting the physical/emotional/mental body. Some people just know that it feels good, and it makes them feel great afterwards. That’s my goal. That people leave feeling spaciousness and lightness. Feeling good after.
There is a beautiful quote by Iyengar:
“Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and to endure what cannot be cured.”
With yoga, we are not only strengthening, but lengthening muscles. We do a lot of work with our breath, this helps to release tension and possibly pain if muscles are sore. It can improve the digestive process through twists. It has an effect on the nervous system by relaxing the body. It can give you the ability to recognize where you hold stress (jaw, hips, lower back). It can improve circulation.
How has teaching yoga added to or changed your own practice of yoga?
It has made me realize how important it is to have a regular practice. I need a regular practice to keep grounded in what I am teaching. In order to teach something you need to be able to do it as well.
How much appetite for yoga do you think there is in Pemberton?
I think its huge. It’s really big and popular in Whistler, Vancouver… People here love to do yoga. We are so physically active, I think there’s a natural draw to yoga for most people, so that they can keep doing those sports they love. I think if you practice yoga regularly you will notice a difference in how you ride your bike, how you ski, how you run etc. Yoga allows us to tap into our creative energy. We realize that there is something more, deeper, a connection to self and therefore to each other.
What do you like about teaching and working and living in Pemberton?
I feel like I’m part of this community. I meet people from all walks of life. It is a gift for me to be part of the community and to give something back to the community.
What’s your vision for this? Where are you headed with it?
I would love to teach classes every single day out of Kula Wellness. When the demand increases I hope to add more classes to the schedule. Yoga, massage, and also specializing in one-on-one yoga therapy, and applying yoga therapy in the classes. Because my classes are quite intimate, I can help each person with their individual physical needs.