Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Celebrating Local Studios Part 2: Sunrise Yoga Studio

Welcome back for Partie DEUX of our conversation with Jack Godfrey, owner of Sunrise Yoga Studio. Although I really enjoyed the first part of the conversation, this second part is where I really consider the answers and content to get 'juicy' :).

A quick recap: Sunrise Yoga Studio is over in Dartmouth, Coffee and Yoga crew had recently bombarded a wonderful class with Helen Fong and we were all blown away by the warmth and sense of 'actual' honest community. Jack has been teaching Ashtanga yoga for 12 years and has studied with many big Ashtangi names. Last week he stated that the Beatles originally introduced him to Yoga.

And now, for the rest of the story:
6. What brings you the most Peace and Joy in your life?

At the yoga studio.  The most joy comes from seeing person that has come to the studio heal their body.  I have had several people come to the studio with injured backs and other injuries and they have been able to heal them by doing yoga.

One person had been in a car accident a couple years before starting yoga.  She had been going to physio and chiropractor treaments on a regular basis to help manage the pain.  She started coming to yoga and after 6 months of regular (2-3 classes a week) she no longer had any back pain.  She stopped physio and chiropractor treatments and used the yoga to complete the healing of her body.

Another person has environmental sensitivities and he has been able to improve the health of his body by doing yoga on a regular basis (5-8 classes a week).  His blood pressure has improved.  His weight has gone down.  His body is healthier.  He is able to manage the effects of his illness with yoga.  He recovers more quickly from exposures with Yoga.

A third person has been using yoga to lose weight.  He has lost 40 pound in the last eight months.  He comes to about 5 classes a week plus he does yoga at home.

And of course lots of people are more flexible and less stressed.  They use yoga to improve their well being.  They are healthier and calmer as a result of doing yoga on a regular basis.

These people make teaching yoga a joy.

7. There has been a lot of talk recently in the Yoga blog-o-munity regarding 'What is and isn't Yoga' with respect to the commercialization of yoga through organizations like Lululemon, Rainbeau Mars as well as whether Yoga is a religion. What are your thoughts on how Yoga is changed and portrayed in the general Western media-culture? Is this something to embrace as it brings more Yogis to yoga, or should we strive to retain what many call 'pure' or 'traditional' yoga?

I have heard this as well.  I am and elder in my church. I see no conflict between being Christian or whatever religion and having a yoga practice.  I feel that they are quite complimentary.  Having a calm mind and a healthy body means that I can be better at what I need to do in life and in my religion.

There was a discussion on line a few months ago about Yoga Inc (the commercialization of yoga)  One person had a very insightful comment.  Year ago the student would join a yoga teacher as he sat under his tree.  He would listen to the teacher and absorb his teachings.  If he did not agree with the teachings, he would discuss the differences with the teacher.  He would learn from this discussion. 

At some point the student would become dissatisfied with the teacher and decide to move on.  This may be because he has learned as much as he can from this teacher or their view points no longer meshed.  The student would then get up and leave this teacher and wonder along until he found another yoga teacher under another tree and he would sit down and listen to see how well their views meshed and what he can learn.

Not all teachers and not all approaches to yoga will mesh with every teacher and every student.  There are many students and their are many teachers and studios. There is lot to choose from. 

Most people are drawn to the physical aspect of yoga and will go to a Yoga Inc place that focuses on the physical aspect.  As the they become more experienced with yoga they will develop a need for the mental aspects of yoga.  They may or may not be able to satisfy that need at their current studio.  If they can not fulfill the need at the current studio it is time for them to get up and wander on to the next tree and the next teacher.

The exposure of yoga in the media, makes more people aware of yoga and its benefits.  This is a good thing.  A lot of people will give it a try and then move on.  A few of these people will give it a try and make a connection.  And they will move on to the true purpose of yoga which I believe is to improve the health of the body and calm the mind and prepare it for meditation.  Without the media exposure the new people would not connect with yoga and the benefits.

A finishing 'extra':
Eight years ago there were no yoga studios in Dartmouth.  We all had to travel to Halifax to take classes.  There were several teachers offering classes in church halls, rec centres, and community centres.  There were no purpose built spaces to practice yoga in.

For several years I was traveling around the continent going to conferences for work.  Every where I went, I made a point of going to yoga studios.  Finding out what worked well, what I liked, what I did not like. 

Then I started looking for a place in Dartmouth to open a yoga studio.  It took six months of looking to find the current space.   I opened a yoga studio and implemented all of the positive features that I found in those other studios and tried to avoid the negative features.

Now six years later there are three studios in Dartmouth with another opening later this year.

It's been fun.

Thank you very much Jack for giving such insightful and thoughtful answers to my questions! 

Interestingly enough our topic at Coffee and Yoga last night was the 8 limbs of Ashtanga Yoga... and I'll be going to my FIRST Mysore class ever at Sunrise Yoga Studio tomorrow night!! I'm pretty nervous, but I'm sure it will be a great learning experience. :)

You can find Jack on Twitter, facebook, his blog and his studio webpage!

Many Blessings!

article copyright of EcoYogini at 


  1. Loved what he had to say about yoga and its teachings, how we learn, how he feels about it in the media, etc.!

  2. Great post! He sounds like an inspiring and interesting man!


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