Julie Martin is April’s Yogi of the Month and is the first YOTM to be a student, teacher, and studio owner (Okanagan Yoga Centre)! I first met Julie years ago when she was teaching at another studio and loved her style. She is a wonderful teacher, many different styles influence her teaching so it seems eclectic and unpredictable. I always love the new poses or transitions I am exposed to when in Julie’s class. Not only is she a wonderful teacher she is a lovely person with a great heart, who shares that energy with her community and family. Meet Julie!
Pause. I come to this practice to pause – to practice the art of being, to allow myself the space and freedom to be as I am and to take the time to rest in that place.
2 When did you start yoga and how did that come to be?
My yogic journey began way back in India, at a time when I was full of fear and doubt. As I hesitantly began my practice, nestled in the hills of the Himalayas, I quickly came to realize the value of what this practice holds and that, albeit a challenging journey, a worthwhile and necessary one.
3 Where and with whom did you study with?
I’ve had the honor and privilege to study with many amazing people all over the world, from California to Hong Kong and back again. To name a few: Sarath Jois, Desiree Rumbaugh, Mark Whitwell, Ana Forrest, David Swenson, Rameen Peyrow, Patrick Creelman and Charat Singh. I continue to study, learn and grow each day from books, teachers, my students and my personal practice. The growth and discovery never ends.
4 What kept you coming back to the mat and has that changed over time?
Happiness. Yoga makes me happy and light and this has never changed.
5 What does yoga bring to your life?
Yoga brings so much – balance, strength, flexibility. These things occur not just in the physical self but in all aspects of our being – mind, body and spirit.
It continues to evolve each day and perhaps this is in part why it is so “easy” to stay with the practice – each day, each moment we have a new opportunity to evolve and grow whether that’s in a physical posture or in the way we see and treat ourselves and others.
7 How might you and/or your life be different if you hadn’t found Yoga?
I don’t think I’d be able to maintain the perspective I find through my practice. It equips me to become present more often, which is where I find clarity, and compassion and truth. I must look at the things in need of release and do the work to manifest these changes. This creates more ease and happiness in my life. Without yoga, I’d find it much harder to find balance in my life. It’s not easy even with the tools that a regular practice offers. That’s why it’s called “practice.”
8 What is your “can’t do without” favorite pose?
Twists of any kind – balancing, seated, standing, inverted or reclined, they all help to cleanse and heal my body and mind. Twists are clearing as well as energizing – a vital ingredient in any sequence.
9 Tell us about an asana you struggle with!!
Revolved Triangle (Parivrtta Trikonasana) and Revolved Balancing Half Moon (Parvirtta Ardha Chandrasana). I find these types of twists require a lot of space in the thoracic spine which is an area I feel chanllenged in. I require more space to open fully into these postures. I’ve had glimpese of that freedom but have yet to maintain it.
My daughter and husband. These two people add so much to my life and to who I am. Each day I have an intimate opportunity to look honestly at myself and be all that I am openly and freely. I can face my deepest fears with the love, support and inspiration they endlessly provide me.
Included with Ruby and Mike, is the community growing around us at OYC. They are a constant source of inspiration, motivation and gratitude. We are in awe of the group of people that make our studio what it is. Amazing.
11 What tips can you offer beginning students for a safe practice?
To move slowly and mindfully. Use the breath to slow down and heighten your awareness of yourself and your body. Cultivate listening skills and practice “listening” to what your body has to say and then learn to respond accordingly, doing so with kindness, compassion and acceptance. Developing breath awareness is the first step – follow as the breath guides the practice.
12 How about guidance for beginning teachers?
Transitions are postures – teach the transitions, both in and out of a posture, as if you were teaching a pose. Ensure people are moving both in and out of postures safely and with integrity.
Focus more on verbal instruction over demonstrating. Demonstration is helpful and should be used when necessary but I’ve found verbal cues help the student more efficiently find the postures within their own bodies, creating more mind/body awareness. They can then learn to adjust and modify the postures as needed, for themselves, ensuring they are getting what they need out of their practice.
Lastly, breath. Yoga is a breathing practice and should guide both instructor and student, always.
Sit and watch your breath. Taking even 3 minutes out of your day to just sit and watch your breath is the most effective way I’ve found to reduce stress and tension within body and mind. Sitting creates an increased awareness and the ability to change patterns, habits and tendencies that are not healthy.
14 Where are you teaching now and how can we find out more about you? (website, studio, facebook, etc.)
I co-own and operate Okanagan Yoga Centre in West Kelowna with my husband Mike and Lisa Whitford, an amazing “silent” partner. We are located at #104 – 3710 Hoskins Road (Quality Greens – Westbank). Our website is: www.okanaganyogacentre.ca and you can follow us on facebook (Okanagan Yoga Centre).
From a place of truth and self-inquiry my classes are designed to be fun, encouraging, and inspiring. Through proper alignment on subtle and gross levels with strong focus on intention for practice, we’ll work towards freeing body and mind of old habits and cultivate new, healthy patterns.
11 years after starting on my path of yoga, I continue to be inspired daily by the depth and simplicity of the practice. I am eternally grateful for the gift of yoga and am privileged to share it with others.
I have had the privilege to study with many amazing teachers – all of whom have added depth, perspective and intelligence to my practice. My greatest teacher however is my daughter Ruby. She constantly shows me the brilliance of each moment.Her smile reminds me that love is all around us if only we choose to see it. With trust, commitment, and patience I am moving closer to a place of greater awareness, gratitude, and loving acceptance for what is.