Stories by Annie Bananie


Laura Fowler Massie

Today we are talking with Laura Fowler a yoga teacher since 2007. She is also an educator and considers teaching her dharma and passion.

Laura thanks for being here. What brought you to your yoga practice?

What brought me to the practice…hmmm. I have always been very interested in the spiritual aspect of yoga. Even before I knew or understood anything much. I was simply curious. And as a ballet dancer in my childhood and again in my early adulthood, body movement was something I really loved. Moving from ballet into yoga was very natural and easy for me. The connection to body, breath and the intuitive flow I am able to feel through both dance and yoga are very uplifting. I love the feeling and I can never get too much of that!

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I have been to your classes and love your teaching style. It is meditative, slow and in sync with the breath.  Tell us your philosophy behind this and the benefits of this kind of practice.

 Actually, when I first began to practice yoga seriously, I was very interested in a more physical, dynamic Ashtanga-style practice. In my 30’s and 40’s this served my needs. Over time my practice evolved, grew and changed. Now I enjoy a much slower flow-style. I like to delve into the sensations in my physical body and my energetic body by slowing things down. I have let go of many of the more challenging or extreme postures, as I feel they were simply feeding my ego and potentially wearing down my body. My practice today is a deeply grounding one. I am interested in what one of my teachers refers to as the 6th & 7th senses; proprioception and interoception. Tuning into a deep sense of awareness of where my body is in space and how my body feels “from the inside out”. Slow mindful yoga is not “gentle” yoga as it is often mistaken for. Although it certainly can be a gentle practice, slow mindful yoga is a practice that delves deeply into the self. It is about introspection and connection to self. It is my spiritual practice.

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I have been to your Bridge Yoga classes and love it.  The funds raised from this class go to purchasing water filters for a village in Guatemala. Please tell us more. 

 I love to teach yoga and I also love to do humanitarian work. As a college professor I teach early childhood education and love to share knowledge of healthy child development. Over the years I have travelled several times to small villages in rural Guatemala with groups of my college students. My students and I work in preschool nutrition centers with local Mayan educators and the children in their care.  Over the years I have made a strong connection to one village in particular called Punyabar. The Mayan families that I have met there are very dear to my heart. I wanted to continue to support the lovely people in this village, even when I was not there. So I decided to connect my interest in humanitarian work and my passion for yoga. Thus, Bridge Yoga was born. 

 I have been teaching yoga on the beautiful covered bridge in Wakefield QC every Tuesday evening for three summers now. Classes run from the middle of May into the middle of September. These classes are donation based and 100% of the funds raised go towards the purchase of water filters for families living in extreme poverty in Punyabar Guatemala. 

 Teaching on the covered bridge is so satisfying and fun, actually it is pure joy! The sights and sounds of nature all around and the rushing of the water underneath, create a very magical experience for everyone. So far, we have raised thousands of dollars and have been able to purchase many water filters for families in need. As we know, proper health requires clean water. Water is foundation for health. Bringing people together at the beautiful Gatineau river to build community and share practice, while raising money for others in need, has been a pleasure and a privilege. I am looking forward to next year!

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I love how you have combined your passion for teaching Early Childhood Education with yoga by opening Calm Kids Yoga. What is behind this inspiration?

 Yes, as mentioned I am a college professor and teach early childhood education. So again, I wanted to connect my interest and skills to create something new. I will be launching my first children’s yoga teacher training certification program, designed specifically for Early Childhood Educators (ECE) and other early years teachers, in the coming months. This training program is called Calm Kids Yoga.  I am super excited to have created this training and to be recognized as a registered children’s yoga school with Canadian Yoga Alliance. The first training will be held in February 2020 at Beyond Yoga Studio & Wellness Centre in Kanata.  I am so excited for this!

 I believe that yoga and mindfulness can be profound practices for children and the adults in their lives. Helping children to recognize their own emotions and learn to self-regulate are very important skills. Learning yoga is perfect for this. Encouraging children to tune into their bodies and experience some calmness and joy is very powerful. Through the use of simple games, songs, toys, dance and movement I will teach educators how they can use yoga to support and teach their children. I feel honoured and excited to begin to offer this important training and share what I know with others.

You are a busy woman. What keeps you grounded?

I would have to say that living in my little yellow house in the woods really helps me to stay grounded. I love nature and whenever I feel life is getting a little over-whelming, I look out my window and take a long, deep breath. I like to spend time sitting in my yard noticing what the birds and squirrels are up to. They are so very entertaining and always busy with something. 

I also practice Yoga Nidra to restore myself and practice meditation and asana as much as possible to calm my body and mind. I have found that the practice of gratitude is a very powerful force and is also very grounding. I have recently undertaken a social media 50 day gratitude challenge. I will be posting a gratitude-focused quote every day for 50 days on my FB pages. The idea is to look and find the good in the world and feel the benefits in your life. I mentioned this to my husband, and he told me that he thought I should include him and our two kids in this challenge too. As none of them use FB, I have started a family gratitude tread and will send the quotes to them via text every day.

That is so beautiful to include your whole family. I have recently read that gratitude practices keeps us healthier and happier. You took beautiful photographs while Ecuador and Western Canada. Throughout the years you have travelled far and wide. Can you share your favourite travel story?

Yes, I love to travel, and I have been to some incredible places. But to come up with a favourite travel story, now that is a very difficult thing. Suffice it to say that I learn something new every time I travel. I love to meet and make real connections with people all over the world. What I find so wonderful and amazing about travelling is that I find more commonalities than differences between people. I love that whether I am in Tanzania, Ecuador, Switzerland or Cuba, people are just people. All people want to be happy and experience joy in life. Travelling makes me feel even more connected because I see that we are all more alike than we are different.

Mornings are an important starting point to our day. What is your morning routine?

Well to be honest, a warm cuppa and sitting on the couch looking out the window is my favourite thing to do in the morning. I try hard not to rush about, but rather to calmly begin to notice the day. I always greet my husband with a heartfelt “good morning and how was your sleep?” I try to meditate but must admit it doesn’t always happen first thing in the morning. I work hard to allow myself enough time to get to where I am going with a sense of calm. I do not enjoy being late, nor do I like rushing about. Taking time in the moment to enjoy the moment is very important to me.

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Your most recent workshop line-up is something that you are very excited about. Being a 49 year old woman myself and on the verge of menopause, I can see the importance in these offerings.

 Yes, I love to teach…I think we have established that…. lol! I am also very interested in sharing my yoga teachings with women my age (well all women actually…and men too). I will be celebrating my 58th birthday in the coming weeks. I feel a strong connection to women around my age. So, I decided to create a Women’s Wellness Workshop series to connect with more women and share my passion for yoga. There are five workshops in the series and participants can take one, two or all five if they wish. Each workshop focuses on a specific topic and will include some theory, a movement practice, a guided meditation and a Q & A time.

The schedule is as follows…

 September 27 th : The Power of Slow

Gentle, subtle and mindful movement offering pain relief and inviting a soothing transition away from anxiety and stress. Thoughtful and intentional awareness through guided breath and mindfulness techniques are used to support clarity and create calmness. 

 

October 4 th : Subtle Yoga to Energize and Uplift

Honouring self and inviting wellness into the body through the practice of ancient self-care rituals, mindful movements and deep guided relaxation techniques. Introduction to Ayurvedic teachings of self-massage with organic and essential oils.

 

  October 11 th : Yoga for Pelvic Heath and Awareness

Learn important and empowering information related to pelvic pain, incontinence and organ prolapse. By tuning in to your feminine body you will learn how to recognize, feel and heal with gentle, purposeful and targeted yoga postures.

 

October 18 th: Yoga as We Age – Moving Towards Menopause and Beyond

Celebrating your wise woman wisdom. Honouring the beauty of aging, learning self-care and soothing rituals and practices.

 

October 25 th : Yoga Nidra Yogic Sleep for Rejuvenation

A spiritual blend of conscious relaxation and meditative visualization. Grounding, relaxing and manifesting. This ancient practice taps into the power of the subconscious mind to bring about deep relaxation and profound transformation. The development and focus upon a personal intention and resolution (sankalpa) will be explored.

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Thanks Laura! I love how we have so much in common and live life through passion. Thank you for choosing me as your photographer and I have a feeling that we might have more projects together. Let’s see what the futures holds!