Can you tell us about your background?
I've been in love with all the body can do ever since I was young athlete. Starting as a personal trainer in 1995, I chose to seek out more information at UBC to understand this amazing tool we live with everyday. As a kinesiologist, I felt the knowledge was perfect for what I did as a PT, yet there was still a greater need for something more, which led me to body work. Using my knowledge of trigger points and the harmful effects they have on the body, here I have found a part of my purpose in helping others, but it still didn't feel complete. Finally, it was the addition of yoga to my life that has brought me full circle. Knowing that the body's needs are individual to each person, and creating a routine that will change as the body evolves, I found self-care to be the most powerful way to heal.
What brought you to yoga?
Back in 1999, I thought that yoga was another way to stay fit. Being a full time student at UBC I had a lot of judgment , and was certainly ignorant to the many benefits yoga hd to offer. I dabbled with yoga here and there, but I never took it seriously.
INTERVIEW WITH: Coral-Lei Jane
Like most people I’ve met, my life has had many personal experiences of pain and injury. The big one for me happened in 2008 with the sudden onset of a virus in the left hemisphere my brain , which left me hospitalized for months and needing to learn how to walk and talk again. Understanding how the brain works it was no surprise that I was paralyzed on the right hand side, and thankfully it was only for 8 weeks! However, my body had a serious deficit, and not only that, I didn't even recognize my parents, never mind my beautiful 4 year old daughter!
At that time speech was the hardest therapy I ever had to do, and thank God I was already engaged in Bikram yoga religiously for over a year. This helped me to come back faster than if there was no connection to yoga already. My love for yoga comes from a deep awareness of how important self-realization is to living. I am so grateful for the learning curve I still experience with yoga, as I am a true student for life.
Why did you decide to become a teacher?
I have been a teacher to many as far back as '94. I was a personal trainer in Kelowna then, and I continue to do so with my clients and students.
I first started taking yoga seriously in 2007 when I fell in love with the Bikram series. They asked me then if I was interested in be coming a teacher, and I can honestly say that I had no desire to teach that style of yoga. I do still practice the 26/2, and that being said I have great appreciation for the healing series.
My interest has always been and continues to be providing a variety and uniqueness to all I create through my sequences. Knowing that everyone has a unique body, I also know that their yoga requires individual attention. All we can do is our very best with the knowledge we already have.
What do you love most about teaching?
When I'm able to connect with an individual and help them transform their pain or issues, and know that they are interested to learn more about what they can do for themselves, this is where my passion thrives.
I had a student stay after class a couple weeks ago feeling raw and real with what happened in her class. She bursted out in tears and was so grateful for the release. Teaching is about supporting and allowing the student to go through their process on their own time.
Teaching fills me up in a certain way that only a dedicated person following their purpose can truly understand this kind of love.
What is your favorite pose?
You're kidding me right? If I had to only choose one of my favorite poses it would have to be Savasana, or Balasana. Haha. Okay then, corpse pose is one of the most challenging postures, as everyone always hears from the teacher, and I find it to be the most healing and the perfect way to connect to that Stillness we all need. This is where the internal reflection and inner knowing resides. If we can be silent for a moment, just a moment, we can hear everything! That is where the answers lie.
What should students expect from you?
I've heard other students say they find me to be very passionate and love what I do. I feel it's not about expectations as much as trusting my commitment to provide a safe and well thought-out sequence to help them heal.
Not that this is part of the question, but my expectations of the student is that if they need something then please communicate your needs, and let us know what it is that we can do for you to make it a better experience. In other words, be clear if there's any injuries or modifications that you may need so we can offer you the best class we can provide you.
What do you want your students to take away from your teachings?
Knowing that my purpose is to provide yoga postures to help heal the body, and hopefully the students will take home a posture that would help with their daily living. This is my ultimate goal; practice a posture or even a small series every day.
Proudest yoga moment?
Again, there are many. When you have recovered from a massive injury it is challenging to only pick one. I will have to say that fixed firm pose, supta-vajrasana, was very easy prior to my brain injury, but losing motion on the right side had brought about many issues. Tightness and pain were one of them. In fact, this has been a continuous journey since 2008, and I may make it look easy, but everyday is different. One thing I can say as a lover of yoga, and I suppose that's being proud too, I no longer allow pain in any of my postures. Yah to that!
Most embarrassing yoga moment?
I suppose I have had many, yet I don't allow that thought of embarrassment to penetrate my mind. So here goes one that I am ready to share.
To become certified in teacher training Daniel Clemente had asked us to do a yoga sequence of only three postures. The sequence that I had taught in front of the class wasn't exactly what he had asked for, as I created what I called 'the journey' for them to go through. I had not passed in his eyes, and although a lot of people were stumped as to why, I did not question, I understood what I did wrong. That was one of my biggest lessons Dan taught me, and the next day I went home to teach my 10 year old the yoga sequence he had asked for originally. When I think about it, yes, that was a little embarrassing. He wanted simple, clear teaching and what I taught was convoluted with stuff. I passed, in more ways than one!
There are so many to choose from, however, this has been my gauge in helping my body,
"It's a trade secret, but I'll tell you anyway. All healing is self healing"?
~ Albert Schweitzer Nobel prize 1953
The father of modern yoga, Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, motto was “Teach what is appropriate for an individual ." This beautiful yogi lived 101 years to heal others and help each person achieve a healthier life.
What is your advice for new yoga students?
Another great yogi from Vancouver is Bernie Clark . He titled his newest book Your Body Your Yoga, and in it he reminds us all "you are unique and so will be your yoga".
Besides that great gem Bernie offers us, my advice is to Go slow and find the greatest gift yoga has to offer, Breathe Consciously!