women of wonder mission #4: a yoga friendship

My fourth mission for WonderBra‘s Women of Wonder project was pretty sweet: Think of the person that inspired you to discover yoga and let them know how it’s brought joy into your life.

The person who inspired my yoga journey was my good friend Lesley. When we were both students at the University of Victoria in the mid-90s, she took a semester off school to study at Yasodhara Ashram (affectionately and repeatedly referred to in the video as “the ashram”) in southeastern British Columbia. At the time, I thought it was the craziest and wildest thing a person could do. But it had an impact on me, for I started to take yoga classes at the university gym and then really got into my practice a couple of years later, when I was depressed and lonely in England.

In 2004, I also took the bold step of spending an extended period at Yasodhara Ashram – a life transition that was unthinkable to me nine years earlier – and then, like Lesley, I went on to work at ascent magazine. Through 15 years, several countries and numerous personal changes, the friendship between Lesley and I has held strong. Now, I live in Montreal and she lives with her husband and 7-year-old twin daughters in Victoria, BC. We stay in regular contact and see each other once a year or so.

It was fun to take the time to have an extended Skype call with Lesley and recount our friendship. We’ve never really talked about the role of yoga in our lives and our friendship, and it felt good to thank her for all that we’ve shared. Please bear with my elementary video skills, and I’m sorry that we only get half of Lesley’s face and my face is really big. I’m still figuring out how Call Recorder works.

Was there a particular person who inspired your discovery of yoga? What yoga-based relationships in your life are you grateful for?

  1. Very sweet, Roseanne. I can’t think of one person who influenced me to try yoga. Honestly, I was curious about it from the first time I heard about it in junior high in the late ’60s, from a TV commercial, of all places. Maybe it was my dad, the gymnast, and the flexible body I inherited from him. Maybe it was The Beatles. Maybe it was my Aunt Charlotte telling me about her senior yoga class in 1980. Maybe it was the anonymous man, dressed all in white, who handed me a book on the path to freedom in a strip mall parking lot in Las Vegas back in 1981. All I can say is that once I finally took the dive, it was love at first sight! Since then, I’ve met and cherished more yoga-related friends than I can count.

  2. I remember living in rural nova scotia in 2002-03 and this amazing firey woman moved into town bursting with yoga enthusiasm, spreading her love and wisdom of anusara inspired hatha yoga throughout the annapolis valley. Helen Wilson-Welsh’s presence still lingers in the valley even though she moved away from there as well. I think I did one yoga afternoon when we both lived in NS but there was something about the seed she had planted that got me started to my first anusara yoga class once i arrived back in montreal. To me even though we haven’t actually done much yoga together I feel like there is a particular special link between us because of the inspiration Helen was in my yoga journey. And I think this is often the case with yoga in general (or even any other ‘seemingly’ different or alternate path we take!) we have a particular bond with the folks who were there in the seed planting/seedling stage, I think because it’s such a delicate time.
    Anyone who knows me knows how that first class blossomed into a garden pretty fast! I know that I would not have made this step without having had the gift of Helen in my life. I also know that my first yoga teacher Barrie Risman will always have a nice snug corner in my heart for the hugely supportive role she played in my timid beginnings on and off the yoga mat.
    I feel extremely grateful.
    and I am glad for this question Roseanne, to have the inspiration to reflect on our ‘yoga relationships’, this is soooo nice with all the yoga ‘criticisms’ on the web these days!