Thursday, July 24, 2014

Pop-Up Yoga Halifax: Community Yoga at it's Best

This summer's Halifax Yoga in the Park has been phenomenal; with great regular turnout of 30+ yogis and lovely yoga teachers giving their time so that we can practice under the sun and near the ocean each week.

One such fabulous yoga teacher is Brigitte LeBlanc (a fellow francophone!). A Facebook friendship revealed that Brigitte not only gives back to her yoga community at HYITP, she helps organize something called “Pop-up Yoga Halifax”. It immediately made me think of Much Music's Pop-Up Video (all you under thirties, non Canadians are missing out, seriously), and as such I had to find out more.

The yoga world is weirdly sliding into the exhibitionist category (Tara Stiles practicing in a glass,vehicular cube around NYC, yoga selfies in dangerous shoes and clothing, yoga selfies in GENERAL). I find this sad because I like the idea of subverting “the man” (whatever that really means) or fine, just bringing something like yoga to the public sphere, but these recent “yoga selfies” trend aren't my cup of tea.

Which is why Pop-Up Yoga is perfect. The very premise of a spontaneous (yet planned enough in advance to attend!), outdoor (and public, but organized for an actual practice in beautiful spaces) and affordable yoga class in Halifax rocks. I was a bit curious on how it works, and the why so Brigitte was kind enough to answer a few questions for me (Merci!!).

If you live in Halifax, be sure to check out her Facebook Page: Pop-Up Yoga Halifax

1. What is Pop-Up Yoga Halifax? Pop-Up Yoga Halifax is an opportunity to do yoga in a non studio setting, at different locations throughout the city with an affordable cost of $5. We believe that yoga should be fun and affordable, and with the summer season upon us, it's a good way to get outdoors, breath in deeply and feel the sun be pushed away by a gentle breeze on your skin.

2. What brought you to organize Pop-Up Yoga Halifax? One day, Rebecca Blanchard (my partner in this project) and I attended a drop in class which cost us $20 for a 45 minute class. We felt like yoga had become an activity for the rich, and those who need it the most (well...everyone!) should have access to it without breaking the bank. We also thought it would be a great opportunity for both her and I to get experience teaching without being hired at a studio. I work as a massage therapist, she works as a nurse and we both love yoga and wanted to teach in our spare time. We didn't want it to feel like a job, but an offering to our community of yogis.

3. What have been the challenges in organizing Pop-Up Yoga Halifax? Just like any project, you start with a concept and you roll with it. Every step leads you to another and sometimes you need to take a step back. The vision has shifted since we began, and is progressing in ways that we are excited about. We asked two other teachers to join us, which is incredible. It’s nice to work on this as a project and have 4 teachers with different visions mix ‘em up together to get a blissed out brainchild.

4. So far, what has been your favourite moment during a Pop-Up Yoga Halifax practice? My favourite moment so far has been our first class. It was a beautiful day, we had a good group of people show up and I just really felt like a proud mother of a beautiful newborn. Although child birth is more painful then the process we went through to make this happen, but you get the symbolism, right? Perceive and conceive

5. What would you like to see Pop-Up Yoga Halifax become?
We would love to offer Yoga classes within local businesses. I see us offering classes in coffee shops, on rooftops, in art galleries, and in conference rooms. We're hoping that once the weather gets cold, that we may continue offering yoga throughout the city in fun locations. We hope to partner up with festivals, and events. Maybe even local dj's who would like to perform a set during a class, or maybe a local whole food company would offer free samples to our yogis. It's a great way to bring like minded folk together, and build a healthy and happy community, while bringing something new to the HRM.

5. We love having you lead during YITP, you have such an open and connected style. What has led you becoming a Yoga Teacher and what do you feel is important in sharing the practice of yoga? I've never been good at sports and I wasn't the athletic type growing up. Being in the health care industry, being active is something that is important to me and I feel that Yoga is suitable for anyone! It is also very complimentary to Massage Therapy since it creates body awareness. I always found myself offering stretches and strengthening postures to aid in my clients dysfunction in their body. I wanted to learn more, not only to deepen my practice, but to also empower my clients to heal. 

I like creating a mind/body connection during my classes. Where is it in your life that you can be more flexible, where is it that you require strength? Challenging yourself in these postures go way deeper then your superficial body. They translate into your relationships, your reactions, and more importantly, they encourage you to breath and be calm when faced with challenges. Yoga is a moving meditation, and in my opinion a great yoga practice should leave you feeling grounded, connected and inspired.
Body glorification has been linked to yoga, and even though this comes along with the package, and is a wonderful result of a consistent practice, there is so much more to value when it comes to yoga.

6. Besides yoga, what is/are your life passion(s)? I love gardening and plants. I feel like I need a bigger home to accommodate for the current jungle of plants that I live amongst. I love creating vegan and vegetarian meals. I love DIY projects. I am passionate about leading a life through a perspective of love. I am passionate about people. 
More then anything, I am passionate about health care and about healing, and the whole concept surrounding it. I believe in the bodies wisdom to heal. I'm passionate about helping people and assisting them in their process. I love learning about natural remedies, and encouraging optimal health through nutrition. I am constantly reading and learning about all things health care related. In September, I will be opening up a clinic called "Anatomy: A Massage and Wellness Centre" and feel like this will be a true creative expression of that which I am passionate about.

Brigitte LeBlanc

Brigitte has a lusty love affair with yoga. She began this beautiful relationship back in 2004 when she took her first yoga class in Canmore, Alberta. Even though it has been an on again and off again relationship, she is now committed to her practice and has found a soul mate for life. She has practiced in numerous locations around the world, exploring what it means to truly know herself. She took her month long, 200hr training in Guatemala. It was an unforgettable journey which led her to her bliss. Brigitte is a Registered Massage Therapist, a co-coordinator with Pop-Up Yoga Halifax and she is currently enjoying the creative process of soon opening her own clinic in the heart of Halifax. You can find out more from her website

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