This June marks the beginning of my eighth year practicing yoga. My love of this practice has only grown since my first class.
That class still stands out in my memory.
I was amazed by how natural the movements felt and how I was able to follow along. There were about thirty of us in a circle on Parliament Hill. There was only one teacher in the middle of our circle.
Over the years I have watch Parliament Hill Yoga grow into the amazing community it is now. I’ve also watched other communities and offerings grow as not everyone is able to make their way downtown throughout the summer.
I wanted to dedicate this post to all the teachers who are donating their time and their teachings to support the local yoga communities. While many talk about how yoga teachers need to be fairly compensated for their work, which is true and is something I support, I also believe in giving back to the community that gave me so much.
The free classes I went to on Parliament Hill eight years ago have had an amazing impact on my life. One that I could not have even imagined at that time. I knew early on that I would become a yoga teacher but I also knew that the time wasn’t right. I waited for six years before I was physically, emotionally and mentally ready to deepen my knowledge of yoga.
For many years I thought that I needed to be able to “do” many of the common yoga poses before I could teach. Each time someone asked when I was planning on starting my yoga teacher training, my response was “When I can hold Crow Pose, I will.”.
Guess what? I still can’t hold Crow Pose for more than a breath at most.
It was the excuse I needed at that time. It was a way I could verbalize the fact that I wasn’t ready emotionally or mentally. I needed to shift several mental and emotional blocks before I could even begin to consider the reality of teaching.
Once I did start considering where I wanted to take my training, I considered going somewhere where I knew no one and I considered going to my local studio. Again, I was working with emotional blocks. Did I want the people who knew me as a yoga student to see me at my most vulnerable while trying to learn how to become a teacher or did I want people who didn't know me so they would only see the parts that I wanted them to see?
I can tell you, it's good to be among friends. To be with the people who know and care about you. They are the people who want to help you grow as a student and a teacher.
That initial teacher training shifted my love of this practice to a deeper level. The last eighteen months of teaching and deepening my own practice have helped me give voice to these experiences and many others.
In that first class, there was something very magical about practicing my first sun salutation, reaching up towards the sky in upward salute and then folding towards the earth.
If you have not experienced the magic of practicing outside, check out the list of free or by donation classes that are being offered in the Ottawa area this summer (below).
If you know of any classes that aren’t on the list, please let me know so I can add them. A big thank you to Tania Frechette for compiling the majority of this list!
Love, Light and Om,
Some of these are indoor classes that run all year and some are outdoor classes that run through the summer:
- Yoga in the park for your LITTLE GURUS: Mondays 9-10am in various city parks from July 4 to August 8. She will be adding a map to her site.
- Ottawa U: Mondays, 12:00-1:00 pm from May 30 to August 29
- Yoga at City Hall: Tuesdays, 12-1pm from July 5 to August 30
- Yoga at the Ottawa Art Gallery: Tuesdays June 28, July 26 and August 30, 12:15-1pm Registration required.
- Parliament Hill Yoga: every Wednesday, 12-1pm from May 4 to September 28th
- Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health welcomes everyone to their free yoga class on Thursdays from 6-7pm.
- Biweekly free yoga classes at Odawa Native Friendship Centre: Tuesday & Thursday 6:30-7:30pm
- Greystone Village: Saturday July 9, July 23 & August 6 from 12:00-1:00 pm.
- Rambling Yogini - Breathe in the Park: Sundays 11:00 am-12:00 pm
- Upward Dog Yoga Centre: Sundays 1:00-2:00 pm – New Teacher’s Karma Class
By Donation Classes:
- PranaShanti Yoga Centre: Yoga for Mental Health, Wednesdays from 2:00-3:00pm. Donations appreciated but not required.
- Rama Lotus Yoga Centre: Thurdays 7:00-8:00 am (Kundalini yoga), Fridays 2:00-3:00 pm (Community Yoga) ,Sundays 7:45-8:45pm (Community Yoga)
- Yogatown Ottawa: Main St. Stittsville - Fridays 6:00-7:00 pm or Preston St. Ottawa (7:30-8:30 pm ($6 minimum donation)
- Moksha Orleans: Fridays 6:15-7:15 pm ($8 minimum donation)
- Pure Yoga Centretown: Fridays 2:00-3:00 pm (*Class is recorded Live - $5) or Fridays 7:30-8:30 pm – (This class is not recorded - $5 CASH ONLY)
- Pure Yoga Westboro: Fridays 7:30-8:30 pm – ($5 CASH ONLY)
- Elevate Yoga: Friday 7:30-8:30 pm ($6 minimum donation)
- Samadhi Wellness Yoga on 'Our' Hill: Saturday July 9th 10:00-11:00 am.
Looking for more affordable yoga? Many studios also offer energy exchanges - Check with your local studio to see if that is an option!