The Yoga House (Oct 2001)

The front cover shows the new The Yoga House in Kelowna. It was built under the stewardship of Margaret Lunam, my yoga teacher of many years. Her students who are now yoga instructors have created a non-profit society to look after this precious resource. Margaret turns 80 this November and looks younger now than when I met her ten or eleven years ago. Yoga changed her life as it did mine and our response to this life-giving ancient art of breath and movement is to give back to our fellow seekers what we have received. The Yoga House was built with Margarets cash and hundreds of hours by volunteers who also wanted to give back some labour of love. The people on the front cover are Doug Bauer and Lynne Bowsher with the shovels, Phofi MCCullogh is cleaning the windows, and Margaret in the hard-hat. They choose to cover the parking lot and front area with grass blocks so that they hurt the earth as little as possible. The wood floor and walls are finished with environmental friendly products as Margaret is a deeply concerned citizen of this planet that not enough thought is given to the damage caused by toxic substances.

When I took classes at her home up Clifton Road her front lawn was full of wild flowers carefully tended so not to use too much water. She often let students trade work for classes and gave bursaries to those who wanted to attend workshops but couldn’t afford the modest fees of the world class presenters. She offered the workshops on a regular basis so that her student teachers could have the best training available. After many years of having students go up and down her staircase to the beautifully built studio overlooking the lake, four nights of the week and several day classes she decided she needed her own space and that her students and instructors needed a place of their own. They rented the Buddhist temple for year or so while construction on
the new Yoga House continued at 1272 St. Paul Street.

Margaret has a heart of gold but my term of endearment for her was sergeant-general, for she likes discipline in her classes. I tried my best but some day it just didn’t seem good enough for her so I accepted the parts of her I liked and ignored the remarks that cut deep as I sank deeper into the poses. She likes to take all of students past where they would have gone on their own and encourages them to breath into the tight places to let go of the tension so the pose can deepen. Each time I attended I became renewed and though my attendance was sporadic I was always allowed to attended whatever class I made it too and over the years she came to appreciate my diligence in the midst of a busy life. After four or five years of building my strength and learning the basics by repetition and having the space in the building I owned, I offered Yoga classes here in Penticton. Basically it was done to help me put into practice what I was learning and it also helped to pay my rent. I call my classes ‘soft yoga’ for though I like the precision of Iyengar my style of teaching is uniquely my own. This fall I offer a newly renovated space at 254 Ellis Street so that yoga can continue to happen. Morgan an instructor from Vernon will be instructing Monday, Thursday and Saturdays. I will be teaching on Wednesday only, until the business of renovating slows down. If anyone wants to make use of the space on Tuesdays, Fridays or Sundays they can contact me at 492-0987. You can meet Morgan on page ?? and more about Margaret on page ??.

To take the time to type this column took lots of discipline for I would prefer to be getting my store back together and put the molding around the floor of the newly laid carpet. I have been living in complete chaos since the early spring and am looking forward a slowing down of the transformation process as winter closes in and the windows get sealed. No more need to paint, gyproc, insulat and replace water lines and electrical wires. If the body reflects the external process then I am a good reflection for my body has undergone metamorphosis also. Starting with a fractured hip that I kept torquing because I didn’t realize it was broken, thinking it would get better with time and only once I had lost much energy did I go to see the doctors. I have kept myself in the best physical condition possible to avoid that possibility of ever experiencing a hospital visit personally but still Karma pervaded and I got the experience anyway. Thank goodness I have a strong body and was able to overcame all the mishaps the doctors managed to do, all with the best of intentions. My final trip was at noon on the opening day of the Wise Woman Weekend which happened Sept. 14, 15 & 16. The surgeon removed the wires that he had placed around my femur that he cracked while fixing my hip. What a barbaric process. First they wrap metal around the bone to stabilize it from further cracking, secondly they use square screws and bolts to clamp the wires together that look like the ones they use to fix cars with. My body reacted to the wire and when x-rays were taken several months later it looked like a mouse had chewed rings around my bones. Each time my knee bent I could feel the wires and screws hurting my muscles. The surgeon didn’t believe me for according to his studies I shouldn’t be feeling them. Only with great persistence from me did he agree to remove them.

Now I feel I can start to heal properly and soon I will be stretching as deeply as used to. I know I need to build more strength into my body and I shall continue doing hand stands but the breath and stretching work is what I love. About the time you read this column I will have taken Donna Farhi class at Margarets new Yoga House. Donna has written The Breathing Book and is considered to a yoga expert. She needed to breath well for she was born with weak lungs. Every day we have opportunities to share what I have learned, as did the forty instructors for the Wise Woman Weekend. It was joy to see so many older woman attending as well as few younger ones. I asked one of the younger woman why she was there and she said because she wanted to be around the wisdom of so many beautiful wise women. Marcel and looked at her and surmised she must have been an Indian princess in her past life and welcomed her into the circle of friends. My heart opens and tears of joy come to my eyes as I recall all the happy moments and help that was so generously given to make the weekend a success. I find myself surrounded by amazing women and men and know that too is a reflection of my own courage to be who I am.