A new yoga studio has opened in Invermere and owner Kelly Carlson is eager to welcome students from all walks of life. From youth, to seniors, to pregnant moms and experienced yogis, Defining Yoga has something for everyone, and this is precisely why Carlson chose the name that she did.
“The name comes from the idea that I think that some people take yoga in a certain way but I believe that there’s yoga for every walk, for every shape and form, whether you want to connect with your physical connection or find mind relaxation, or take an internal journey,” Carlson said. “I think that the classes I want to provide at Defining Yoga speak to all of those things.”
The Defining Yoga studio is located at 507B 7th Avenue behind Grant’s Food next to Kimberley Rae Sanderson Photography. The artistically designed space is akin to a dance studio, with wood laminate flooring and floor-to-ceiling mirrors. Carlson assumed the space on August 15, but held her grand opening just last week on Wednesday, September 19, which consisted of a yoga class followed by a talk on yoga’s seven power centres in the human body (known as chakras) and a help-yourself meal of delicious Indian cuisine. The class, which was co-taught by Carlson and three other instructors, attracted 26 students and Carlson said she thinks yoga could get really big in Invermere and the rest of the valley.
“I think that there’s a shift going on. By seeing all those youth come to the opening was very exciting for me,” she said. “It makes me think that people are starting to think differently.”
The practice of yoga is a physical, mental and spiritual discipline that originated in ancient India, and it was actually in India that Carlson realized her passion for yoga would end up shaping her career, not law school, which was her original plan. After graduating university in Edmonton with a business degree, Carlson decided to take six months off and made arrangements to do her Moksha yoga (a form of hot yoga focused on the breath) teacher training in Kerala, India simply to broaden her yoga practice. By that point, she’d be practicing yoga for almost a decade.
“I just realized how much I needed yoga in my life to feel good,” she said. “I didn’t really make a decision to be a teacher. It just kind of came to me.
After a one-month, three hundred-hour intensive teacher training, she knew she wasn’t going back to school.
“It had changed me so much and realized that I was only down that path for other reasons,” Carlson said.
After returning to Canada, she spent the next year doing her next 200 hours of Moksha course work in Edmonton, followed by a 60-hour Yin (a less athletic style of yoga that focuses stretching connective tissue) training under Bernie Clark, a renowned Vancouver-based yoga and meditation instructor.
She moved to the Columbia Valley in the fall of 2011 to start a yoga studio, which led to the creation of Desiderata Yoga in the Desiderata Health & Wellness Studio in Invermere.
“I had an urge to connect in a smaller community,” Carlson said. “I just love the outdoor environment here, and then I just saw this as a potential, like a good spot where yoga hadn’t taken off yet.”
But sharing the space with a full dance program was challenging, so when the opportunity to rent her own space came up, Carlson jumped at it.
Defining Yoga offers a full range of yoga classes, for beginners to those more experienced, and everyone in between. Carlson recommends first-time students to take the dynamic flow class, because it’s taught in such a way that anyone who walks through the door who hasn’t done yoga before feels comfortable and can do it, while someone who has a yoga practice will still find it interesting.
“I want to provide another modality that people can take care of their health with. I want to help youth with their self-esteem and I want to help people deal with stress,” Carlson said. “I want people to unlock their potential.”
Yoga can do this because it teaches people to be present in the moment and connect with their true inner selves, she said. And to do this may require a transition period, for which Carlson has some sage advice:
“To transition gracefully, ground yourself, remain calm through the discomfort, notice how you feel, move freely and resist any desire to cling, and that’s yoga poses or life.”
Maureen Thorpe, Jeanette Riches, Jody Leblanc, Janelle Brown and Alison Brown join Carlson in offering classes at the studio, and Carlson said she’s always on the lookout for new teachers in order to accommodate a wide variety of yoga disciplines. For the full schedule, contact information, class descriptions and more, visit the studio’s website at www.definingyoga.ca.