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KYH Teacher spotlight: Interview with Janice Loukras

June 3, 2021

What brought you to yoga?   

In 1998 I left my job, and my family and I moved to Vernon from Vancouver.  Shortly after, I had my second child. I realized then that my body needed help! I started taking yoga classes at the Vernon Rec Centre.  I didn’t know anything about the different types of yoga, but I liked how I felt after a yoga class. 

What brought you to the Kelowna Yoga House?  

We moved from Vernon to Kelowna in 2003. I asked myself, where can I do yoga? The Kelowna Yoga House (KYH) is not far from where I live and I often ride my bike there. Once I started attending classes at KYH, I’ve never left!  I attended classes that fit my schedule and had the opportunity to practice with a variety of KYH teachers.  I also appreciated that KYH is a non-profit organization. This really appealed to me as a student. KYH came as a gift to the community with the goal of passing the teachings of Iyengar Yoga forward. That really resonated with me.  

Why Iyengar Yoga?   

Initially, I did not specifically know about Iyengar Yoga. I was drawn to the KYH studio by the teachers and the inviting KYH environment.   My interest in Iyengar Yoga grew alongside the opportunities provided by the KYH community, particularly to learn from other wise Iyengar Yoga teachers, starting with Marlene Mawhinney from Ontario.   At one point, Krisna recommended I attend advanced classes with Deborah Lomond. While I was sad when Deborah moved away, I continued in the advanced classes with Krisna Zawaduk and have been a dedicated student with her for almost ten years. Krisna was also my mentor and senior teacher when I began teacher training in 2016.  My background in biology contributed to my interest in the anatomy and physiology of the body. I have studied the brain/body connection. Now I have been a yoga practitioner for more than 20 years, with more intense study over the last 5 years. There is still so much more to learn! Because of this, I often feel like a beginner; I am always learning something new. As a teacher, I learn even more from my students as I guide them through their yoga experiences. 

Why did you decide to pursue teacher training?  

My answer to this is multifaceted: (1) In 2008, I was inspired!  Geeta Iyengar came to Penticton for the IYAC AGM. At this time, I still saw myself more as a casual student. After 5 days of learning with Geetaji, I felt amazing and met dedicated yoga teachers and practitioners from all over Canada.  At the beginning, I was not familiar with the Invocation to Patanjali. By the end, I was able to recite words!  (2) From there, it was really about the timing. I had been laid off from work and my youngest daughter was in her final year of school. Time just seemed to open up for me. My practice was irregular and I wanted to become more consistent.  I needed the space and time in my life to delve into deeper study.  I also needed the incentive and guidance that came with the three years of study for Level 1 certification. (3) At this time, KYH was also looking for teachers so it was a chance for me to be of service to KYH and the broader Iyengar yoga community .  Under Krisna’s guidance, I started teaching in 2018 and with much gratification (and relief), I passed my assessment and was certified at the Introductory II level in the fall of 2019. 

You seem very passionate about yoga – why is that? 

In the beginning, my body felt so good after a yoga class. The body was definitely the entry point into my yoga journey. I found the body-mind connection inspiring.  I also saw and continue to see in myself the positive effects of yoga on the aging body. I was absolutely amazed when I saw 80-year-olds doing headstands!! I learned early on that yoga is so much more than flexibility of the body. Perhaps more important than a flexible body is a flexible mind. I am grateful for the teacher training opportunity. Now I WANT to practice every day. For me, practice is not just a physical asana practice. The other limbs of yoga come into play. 

What message do you have for people who say “I’m not flexible enough to do yoga?” 

That’s probably a great reason to try a yoga class.  But I like to think that it’s more about finding freedom – freedom to move, freedom to breath, freedom to be you!

 

Interview by Kari Dul

 

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