In the morning, Jolene Ross wakes up early to do her sun salutations, a series of breathing and stretching exercises designed to improve overall health and wellbeing. The young mother of a three-year-old daughter grew up in the tiny hamlet of Fort McPherson. She arrived in Hay River on Aug. 19 from Edmonton, and immediately felt a strong connection with the town.
“It was kind of a spur of the moment decision,” she said, referring to the decision she took with her boyfriend to come to Hay River. “It’s nice because it’s family-oriented. People seem to be involved. I needed change, so we are trying to see what fits. Fort McPherson was too small and Edmonton was too big.”
As a registered yoga teacher – which requires 500 hours of training – she got the opportunity to teach it at a school in Fort McPherson, where the class was labeled as an “alternative adventure.”
Her path to becoming a yoga teacher took place over two continents. After six weeks of training in Edmonton in 2010, she moved back to her hometown and saved up enough money to do a six-week training stint in India last October.
“It was so mentally and physically demanding,” she said. “We had to perform so many grueling exercises, but I came back from India with a new appreciation for life and its experiences, not to mention the travel bug.”
Ross is offering a seven-week beginner course at the Ptarmigan Inn’s fitness centre, Fitness for Life, starting Sept. 23. She took a similar course as an introduction to yoga and was so hooked that she took it a second time.
“It helped me build a solid foundation and that’s what I hope to give to students here,” she said. “You build a routine, do the basic poses and become confident enough to move up to the next level.”
She would like to offer an all-level class at some point – one open to everyone – and make it as accessible to Hay Riverites as possible. Most yoga poses have modifications, which allow them to be performed at any difficulty level.
Ross said she’s benefited from yoga in so many different ways.
“Overall my stress level has dropped significantly,” she said. “I had a lot of anxiety and I don’t have that anymore. It’s calmed me. It’s as important as air to me. Yoga is a great way to give you body awareness, and increase your self-acceptance.”
Registration for the beginner yoga course ends on Sept. 23, and can be done at the Ptarmigan Inn.
– Myles Dolphin