Tell us about yourself.
I have a yoga school called Yoga4Life, I teach yoga at the Bodhi Tree, and am a musician and student. I have a business degree and am slowly working towards a masters in counseling where eventually I want to to work in palliative care.
What inspired you to become yoga instructor?
I grew up on a farm with a very traditional, conservative family who also had an artistic side. When I was young, my parent's had a book on yoga and it fascinated me so much that one day, when I was coming out of Sunday school, I told my mom I believed in reincarnation. When I was a little older, I loved watching Dharma and Greg and always wanted to be Dharma. Then, when I was in my early 20s, my sister passed away. As I was healing in the time that followed, I travelled to India. While there I discovered that I wanted to somehow do healing and yoga because that's what was allowing me to come back to myself. To do this, I needed to be really involved in order to keep up with my practice, so I decided to become a teacher. It was never supposed to be my career but I love it.
What makes a great yoga class, as a teacher?
It's as simple as me being aware enough to see what’s happening in the room and and offer my best. Magic can happen during a class when all your students know you but when there are new people, it's lovely being able to ease their tension and bring a levity and play into the room. It comes down to the capacity to be receptive to whatever is there and not impose myself on the class.
What makes a great yoga class, as a student?
I used to practice four or five times a week but now I'm so busy that it's more like two to three at home by myself. When I do go to a studio my favourite classes are from teachers who have a vast amount of knowledge and skill, are able to be present, and can weave an artistic journey through the practice. I love a class that is physical, mental, and fully engaging.
Tell us about your music?
Using a keyboard, loop petal, guitar and drum machine I create ambient soundscapes and call it ancient trip-hop. It's my own genre of music. My music, Project Sundari [relaunching as Sundari], is a music project based around creating sonic spaces where people feel they can tap into different parts of themselves. Between prayers and mantras, it’s there to envelop and hold people so they can process, heal, feel or do whatever.
What was your inspiration for Project Sundari?
I did a month in an ashram in India and everyone there received a spirit name based on their personality. The name they gave me was Sundari, meaning beautiful self. This name kind of sat on the shelf for awhile until a few years ago when I was touring my folk record, playing yoga studios on the side to help facilitate income. It was then I realized playing at yoga studios was going better for me because it felt more natural and real — it was kind of the essence of all the work I had been doing for the past 10 years. When I think of what 'beautiful self' could mean, I think it’s the ability to see clearly every part of yourself for exactly what it is, to be okay with that clarity and to see the beauty in it. Hence, Project Sundari.
How do you ground yourself?
My work is grounding and most of the things I do help ground me. Whether it's working on music or teaching a yoga class, no matter how frantic or low I am beforehand, the second I'm that room I'm grounded because it’s no longer about me. Any time it's about something bigger than me I tend to become more grounded and am able to take on more.
What does ‘connection’ mean to you?
It starts with connecting to pieces of yourself and being able to see your light and the areas where you’re not as strong (in a way that’s not victimized). From there it goes out and you can see those same things in others and realize that people are not two dimensional. The more we are able to connect into the essence of everybody doesn’t mean we will be close to everyone, but we learn boundaries on what will make us the most effective and clear in our lives.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Diet coke. Like once every two weeks.
To learn more about Amy Thiessen, check out her website: amythiessen.com