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CSY Community: Introducing Pam Schoffer

In celebration of our 5th year, I thought it was important to let our students personal yoga journey's shine and be the foundation upon which we continue to build our yoga community.  I am sure that we will all find pieces of ourselves in each of these students and will find inspiration in their personal practices.

It is my honour to introduce you to one of our amazing and inspiring students, Pam Schoffer.  Pam has been coming to our studio two or three times a week for several years now.  She is one of the most beautiful, honest and wise students that I know.  She is a student who teaches me everyday and I am so grateful that we have found each other and that she has nestled her yoga practice into our welcoming walls.  I was very excited to listen to her story.  I feel grateful that Pam has agreed to share her yoga story with our community.  Enjoy!

HOW DID YOU DISCOVER YOGA AND HOW LONG HAVE YOU PRACTICED? 

Like many people, I have always had a feeling that there was more to life than what I was encountering and living.  When I turned 27, even though I was in the midst of beginning a great career, I made a decision to take some time for myself and I took off backpacking for 3-months in Europe, in what I would now classify as a naïve attempt to “find myself”.  It was during this trip that, while visiting a monastery, I was able to witness a group of monks practicing their form of Yoga and meditation.  I don’t think I fully understood at the time what I had encountered, but I recall a real sense of wonderment and awe, like shivers going up and down my spine; and I felt a pulling inside of me.  As young as I was at the time, I didn’t allow my right brain to guide me and only used the logical thought process of my left brain to remain unsure, unaware and closed to what I was feeling.   I continued on my journey not really giving much more thought about the events at the monastery.

I came home from my travels feeling refreshed, energized and as a more confident individual having taken on the world alone and survived; but in hindsight no more “found” than before I set-out. Two days later I became ill and was subsequently diagnosed with MS.

Once the shock and disbelief had subsided, I realized that this was just the continuation of my journey to “find myself “.  When I was finally fully back on my feet and I was contemplating my next steps in regaining my health, I recalled the sensations I had felt when I had encountered the monks in their Yoga practice and the energy I had sensed as they meditated.   It was then I knew that I needed to explore Yoga.  That was 1989 and I have been practicing Yoga ever since.

 

 WHY DO YOU CONTINUE TO PRACTICE YOGA?

When I started my Yoga practice I used it as a form of physical activity, really a form of physiotherapy to assist me with my illness.  Slowly and in time, I noticed that not only was my body responding to Yoga but my mind was also responding; relaxing.   I noted that the more my mind responded, with each breath and with every movement, my body responded differently as well.    Yoga, for me, allows my mind and body to continue my life journey and helps me to flow through any daily issues that I face. Basically, when I find life gets to crazy, I have a tool I can use to bring myself back to calmness and the moment.

 

HOW HAS YOGA SHAPED AND AFFECTED YOUR LIFE?

Yoga has been a means to introduce to me an entirely different manner to experience life.  Over the years of practicing Yoga, in a round-about way, Yoga has introduced me to many other modalities that have allowed me to explore and broaden my understanding of my own energy.  In turn, in pursuit of a broader understanding of my energy, I have broadened my own Yoga practice.  Ultimately for me, Yoga has shaped and affected my life by showing me that there is more to life than what I saw and understood (especially as a 27 year old).  Yoga continues to allow me to learn new things about myself.

 

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR YOGA PRACTICE?

I love that Yoga enables me to feel focused, strong, and present.  If I am lucky, on any given day while practicing, I may get to a state where I reach a complete feeling of being connected to all that is around me and within me, yet free in my body and mind.  This doesn’t always happen, but I love that with each session there is the possibility that it will.  I also love that my Yoga practice does not end when leave the building and goes with me throughout my day.

 

 WHAT KEEPS BRINGING YOU BACK TO THE MAT?

I believe that over the years Yoga and all it has brought to me, has kept me healthy (and somewhat sane). No matter what kind of a day I am having, physically or mentally, I always feel better, refreshed, relaxed and more thoughtful, having spent some time on the mat.

 

WHAT IS THE GREATEST CHALLENGE THAT YOU FACE WHEN YOU ARE ON YOUR MAT?

When I started my Yoga practice, I approached it like everything else I did; needing to have an end goal, to achieve something.  Initially, I was my own biggest challenge.  This has lessened over the years.  Now I find my greatest challenge changes daily.  One day it can be to relax my body, the next day is to concentrate, another day will be to calm my mind, and so on.  The best thing I can do is “be there”, allow the session to unfold and be present for the period of time I am practicing. If I am able to do this, I always feel more at peace in my practice and the rest of the day. Unfortunately, some days this is easier said than done.

 

 WHAT IS THE GREATEST TEACHING YOU HAVE RECEIVED AS A RESULT OF YOUR YOGA PRACTICE?

I have and am still learning patience of self, acceptance of self, the ability to “take a breather” and in letting things go.  I have also learned that a good sense of humour is an especially an important quality in myself.

 

 HOW DOES YOUR YOGA PRACTICE CHANGE FROM DAY TO DAY OR YEAR TO YEAR? 

My Yoga practice has continually evolved.  As I continue to deal with my illness, my Yoga practice has always been fluid.  On a day to day basis, my practice will change with each session, so I don’t think I could ever explain (or remember) the changes I do today compared to yesterday.  For me, with each session I am open to discover or rediscover something new, about Yoga or about myself.

 

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ASANA / POSE AND WHY?

Ask me this question on any given day and chances are I will provide a different answer.  For me, during each session a different asana or pose will resonate with me; it all depends on what is going on in my mind and body.  I do admit though, my “go to pose” is the Mountain pose; it centers and aligns me and allows me to become settled and present in my mind and body.

 

WHY DO YOU PRACTICE AT CREATING SPACE YOGA STUDIO?

I have attended a number of Yoga studios through the years I’ve been a student, initially searching to obtain a better understanding and then seeking to find a studio that more suited my ideology and provided the courses in which I wanted to participate.

So, when I recently moved to Oakville about 3-years ago, I was dreading having to resume my search once again for a Yoga studio that met my expectations.  Not knowing anyone from the community at the time in which I could ask around, I simply relied on my own sense of judgment as to where I should begin my search, which of course in today’s world was the internet.  The first studio that grabbed my attention was Creating Space Yoga.  I haven’t looked any further since.

I remember the very first class I attended.  The instructor, a woman named Robyn, greeted and welcomed me to the class.  I was immediately impressed with her passion for Yoga and felt very at ease within the environment in which the studio was presented, from the peaceful setting and the wonderfully sunlit studio, right down to the beautiful original artwork that decorated the walls.   I soon realized that Robyn was not only an instructor, but that Creating Space Yoga was her studio.

However, one individual does not make a great studio.  I soon had opportunity to attend other classes taught by the studios other instructors.  It was then that I knew I had found where I needed to be.  I am now a regular attendee to multiple sessions a week.

Since first attending classes at Creating Space Yoga, I have taken courses or a workshop lead by Cheryl, Helen, Natalie, Nicole and Robyn.  Each instructor brings a level of passion and understanding of Yoga that I truly find amazing.   As an individual that lives with MS, even though I have been a student of Yoga for many years, there are some limitations that I have to deal with.  I am continually impressed with the manner in which each instructor is able to modify the lessons to allow for me to fully participate.

 

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