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KYH Teacher spotlight: Interview with Laurie Longden

June 22, 2021

What brought you to yoga?

I suppose yoga has threaded itself through my life since my early twenties, when I bought a copy of BKS Iyengar’s Light On Yoga. I marvelled at how his body was able to take on such amazing ‘contortions’. In those days (1970s) there were mostly hatha yoga classes available and there were no standards for the certification of teachers. 

I took some hatha yoga classes at the school gym near my home in Summerland and would practice with my two young toddlers on the living room floor.  The yoga asanas seemed to dovetail with my interest in meditation and healthy eating, and were a playful part of interacting with my children.

Fast forward to 2001. After moving to Kelowna, going back to school as a mature student, raising a family, and taking a master’s degree program while teaching full time, I was exhausted!  I desperately needed a practice to get out of my ‘head’ and back into my ‘body’. In 2001, after finishing my degree, I signed up for one class per week of both tai chi and yoga.  Auspiciously, this was the year that the Kelowna Yoga House opened. The yoga stuck, and soon I was taking two classes per week.

Who were your teachers?

My first teachers were Darcia Fenton and Deborah Lomond, and I am most grateful for all their fine teaching and encouragement. After having been retired from my ‘day job’ for a year, I made the decision to enter yoga teacher training towards becoming a certified Iyengar teacher.  When Deborah, (who started my training) moved to Nova Scotia, Krisna Zawaduk took over as my teacher trainer and mentor.  Krisna has been, and continues to be a monumental inspiration in my yogic journey.

I have also studied with the Iyengars in Pune, India in 2009, 2014, 2016, 2019 and with Geeta Iyengar in Penticton in 2008. I continue to attend various workshops with senior national and international teachers.

What made you decide to teach yoga?

I have always loved teaching. I have taught horseback riding, taking my instructress training in Cornwall, England.  I later chose to become an elementary school teacher.  My interests have also carried me into forays with art and dance.  Knowing that I learn a subject best by teaching it, I was inspired to go deeper into the practice of yoga. So often, the students I teach are the best teachers of all.

In what ways have you been involved with the Kelowna Yoga House aside from teaching?

Besides teaching various classes over the past years, my involvement has included being a board member, being on the Marketing Committee, and implementing the initial setup of MindBody for online registration, as well as facilitating a weekly meditation group.     

How long have you been practising?

Ever a student, I have been practising Iyengar yoga for twenty years and have been teaching for the past eight years. I continue to be inspired by the depth, intelligence, and transformative nature of the practice. Lessons learned ‘on the mat’ strongly relate to our personal life challenges and assist us in reaching our greatest potential.  Through all the joys and sorrows of life, I have found yoga to be a thread that weaves balance and self-understanding into my daily experiences.   

Why Iyengar Yoga?

I appreciate the detailed instruction, layered progression, and broad range of practices that Iyengar yoga encompasses. From vibrant and very active youth oriented classes to gentler, slower-paced classes for older practitioners and special needs classes for those with challenges or injuries, there is something for everyone at every stage of life. Through the use of props, modified poses, and specialized practices, Iyengar yoga can be made accessible to all.

One may enter Iyengar yoga to gain greater flexibility, strength, and improved posture in the body. However, one soon realizes that there are also great benefits to their mental and emotional states.  Through breath work, concentration, and study, one may also choose to plumb the deeper facets of the practice.      

Iyengar yoga also has a very playful and explorative aspect. Even though learning the poses entails disciplined practice, it also involves a kind of playful openness in the process, or not taking ourselves too seriously. 

I am inspired and deeply grateful to the Iyengar family, most notably B.K.S. Iyengar, who has spread the Light of Yoga into so many lives worldwide. Iyengar’s son, Prashant, and his granddaughter, Abhijata continue to carry that torch, as did his daughter, Geeta who sadly passed in 2018.  

In the words of Iyengar “Let my end be your beginning”.

 

Interview by Kari Dul

 

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