Lisa Dumas firmly believes that everything happens for a reason.
Less than a year ago, she was living in Southern California, raising her young daughter and was fully immersed in the practice of Anusara yoga.
Moving to Vernon with her husband and daughter last summer to be closer to her parents, Dumas has just opened her own yoga studio specializing in Anusara.
She had no intention of teaching yoga here, but when the owner of The Hub Arts Collective decided he wanted to include a yoga studio in his plans, Dumas felt the timing was perfect.
“I was looking forward to deepening my own practice and enjoying my family life in this beautiful area,” she said. “But often a path is made clear, and when my daughter’s acting teacher, Matt Brown, told us he was opening an arts collective downtown and was looking for a yoga teacher, I felt the opportunity was meant for me.
“I loved the idea of an arts collective and Matt has a vision for a space available to anyone wanting creativity and inspiration in life, and that’s how I feel about sharing my yoga practice with others.”
Just steps away from a busy downtown street, the yoga studio at The Hub is worlds away. With soft lighting and music, it’s an inviting space created by Dumas and her family and friends, where she provides a welcoming environment to explore an exhilarating, creative yoga practice designed to safely challenge the body and ease the mind.
Dumas’ own yoga journey began while living in San Diego, where she discovered the precise alignment style of hatha yoga known as Anusara.
A long-distance runner who was new to yoga, Dumas had access to an enormous variety of classes in San Diego.
“My daughter was in Grade 1, and I found that motherhood brought out a lot of anxiety for me, and I found I wanted to be better for Grace, but I could tell that I was worried about everything, and I was searching how to be the best person I could be for her.”
When she discovered yoga and listened to her teacher talking about philosophies from thousands of years ago and that even then, people were struggling with being unhappy, she learned that yoga had the answers she was looking for.
“When I started yoga, I found myself happier and much more calm. I had formerly been very anxious about driving on California freeways and now I could drive on them easily and calmly, so it made me want to find out more.”
When she first started practising yoga, Dumas explored a variety of styles. Encinitas, a small city in northern San Diego County, is known as the yoga Mecca of North America. On a tour of yoga studios there, Dumas came across the studio of certified Anusara teacher Sherry Schreck.
“When I met Sherry, I started going every day, and I realized I was holding myself back in so many ways, so when I started practising Anusara, my marriage improved, and it taught me to be in the moment,” said Dumas. “It taught me that there is more to life than the cars we drive, the houses we live in; it’s like changing your glasses prescription, you suddenly can see things more clearly.
“I can’t say that happens for everybody, but it happened for me.”
Founded by John Friend in 1997, Anusara yoga is one of the most popular and fastest growing yoga styles in the world with more than 1,200 affiliated teachers and 100,000 students world-wide.
Anusara is characterized by its uplifting philosophy, epitomized by a “celebration of the heart,” that looks for the good in all people and all things. Students of all levels of ability and yoga experience are honoured for their differences, limitations and talents.
“I was attracted to it because not only does it offer excellent alignment to keep the practitioner injury-free, but the teachings have so much heart, so much inspiration, that I found my life improved in many ways,” said Dumas. “I was breathing better, my body felt better, I was able to stay in the moment and I had more time, patience and softness in all my relationships.”
One day, Dumas saw a sign on the door of the studio, advertising teacher training.
“I surprised everyone when I took an intense, emotional, life-changing teacher training course, but I felt compelled to share the practice of this yoga with others,” she said. “It was a six-month, super intense course. The first seven weeks were spent really feeling our stuff, and then you’re clear so you can help others. I just had to share it, I don’t know where it will take me.”
Dumas began teaching at the studio where she took her first Anusara class, eventually teaching 10 classes weekly, as well as at a resort in Del Mar, Calif.
Now a registered yoga teacher, Dumas teaches Anusara style, but is still working toward her certification, calling the process a life-long education.
“I’m a teacher, but I have a million years more of learning because the more you learn, the more you realize you need to learn.
“I see teaching yoga as a responsibility: you’re dealing with people’s hearts and bodies, so I want to create a very safe environment; it’s very important to me the experience people have in my class, I put a lot of work into that. I always give the choice to get people to push to the edge; if you show yourself that you don’t think you can do it, and you do, there is a joy in that.
“I have learned through yoga that we’re OK, we don’t have to worry about our next decision if you pay attention because so much of life gives us what we need. I feel secure in that.”
Before moving to San Diego, Dumas spent a number of years as a successful radio broadcaster and met her husband in Toronto, when both worked at the same station. Wrapped up in a successful career at a young age, Dumas used exercise then only as a way of maintaining her physique
“But no matter what brings you to yoga, whether you are going for a better butt or a better mind, no matter why you’re going, you’re going to get something out of it. My job is to make people feel comfortable; I’m gearing it to the western busy adult who needs to hear how to be present, how to quiet the mind.”
Dumas’ classes run Mondays and Wednesdays from 9:15 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and Tuesdays from 5:15 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Drop-in fee is $15 per class. The Hub is on 30th Avenue, next to the Towne Theatre.