Print Edition: June 19, 2013
Yoga can be the perfect solution for end-of-semester stress. It can relax the mind and body, while also improving one’s strength, flexibility and overall health. In other words, it’s a great outlet for the often far-too-sedentary student.
For UFV Bachelor of Arts student Christie Weightman, yoga has become a way of life. After years of practice, she eventually became a teacher and has recently opened the doors to her own yoga studio in Chilliwack called Off the Mat.
How did you develop an interest in yoga?
I developed an interest in yoga upon investigating in books and taking classes at the local gym facility. Luckily for me the instructor at the time was an actual classically-trained yoga instructor with an amazing amount of knowledge and passion for the practice.
I was 18 when I started in 2004. The practice quickly became an integral part of my everyday life.
What made you go from enjoying yoga to thinking, “Hey, this is what I want to do for a living.”
There was never a defining moment of me thinking, “I want to do this for a living.” It just kind of happened. I became a teacher in 2009, and taught a few classes here and there, but I never dreamed of opening my own studio and teaching full-time. Again, it just happened.
Everything in my life worked out in a way that led to this opportunity. For now, this is what I do, but that could change … I am open to whatever comes my way next. Whatever that may be.
Is there something about living in the Fraser Valley that makes yoga especially relevant and meaningful?
No, not in particular … Yoga is relevant and meaningful everywhere that I may go in my life. Though, it does keep me sane when it rains for weeks on end!
What is the skill level required?
We have classes to accommodate beginners and classes to accommodate advanced practitioners.
Do you need to bring special attire?
Wear comfortable clothing – anything you would wear to the gym.
Does your yoga studio offer something unique from other yoga studios in the area?
I suppose that the uniqueness offered at Off The Mat is that of a challenge, where a challenge is sought out, and variety in terms of classes never being exactly the same. There is always something new or different to learn, or a new way of learning it.
Do you teach a specific type of yoga? What are some of the basic differences?
I teach Hatha yoga in the Anusara Style, which is described as: Anusara (a-nu-sar-a). It means “flowing with Grace,” “flowing with Nature,” and “following your heart.” Anusara yoga is a school of Hatha yoga which unifies a life-affirming Tantric philosophy of intrinsic goodness with Universal Principles of Alignment.
Is there a spiritual aspect to yoga for you?
For me, personally, yes there is a spiritual aspect. The practice has become more than just physical activity. The physical aspect of yoga is one-eighth of the practice.
What are your favourite yoga positions and why?
Too many favourites to list! Different poses affect the body in different ways. Some are to strengthen, and some to build flexibility.
The body is like a vehicle – it needs to be maintained to run properly. Yoga poses are maintenance practices for the body.
What would you say to UFV students who have maybe never really considered taking a yoga class before?
I would say that practicing yoga is a great way to stay sane during semesters at school!
Learning how to breathe, and learning how to link that deep breathing with movement can really help reduce stress levels and maintain a healthy outlook on the future.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
For those interested in attending Off the Mat, their studio is located at 1-45832 Wellington Avenue, Chilliwack, BC. Student rates are available.