This week we are visiting our neighbors to the north of us in Canada! Meet Founder and Managing Director of Eastside Yoga Studio, Eastside Yoga School, and Eastside Yoga Online Ms. Dianne Bondy! I must admit I am extremely excited when I meet yoga instructors beyond the borders of the United States. Dianne is a beautiful yogi both inside and out who does not hold her tongue when it comes to challenging the images we are shown practicing yoga through media and major yoga publications. If you ever make it out to Ontario, definitely check her out!
Name: Dianne Bondy
Location: Windsor Ontario Canada
What led you to give yoga a try? My Mom. We did yoga in the 1970’s when it wasn’t that cool. My mom had a book called ” Stay Young with Yoga” and every night we did poses in our family room. It was a great way to connect. I started in plough pose when I was 5. I have done yoga ever since!
I notice that your intention behind practicing and teaching yoga is to empower people to create balance, stand is their power, and to accept themselves completely. Can you talk about what this means for you?It means to me being joyful and accepting of myself and encouraging others to the same. Before I really found the power behind the asana of yoga I let so many things and people define who I was and what I could do.
I love yoga. It makes me feel fearless and empowered. Even if I can’t do a pose I love the thrill of trying. I teach students that there are steps to everything-you will get there. If you can’t to something today it’s okay, there is always next time. I teach my students it isn’t about what you can’t do..it is about what you can do. I also spend a tonne of time in my head. My asana practice clears my head and gets me into my body. On the mat nothing matters and everything matters. I can find acceptance. I share all this with my students and ask them to find joy in the small of steps of each pose. It is thrilling and empowering for all of us.
How does yoga help you accept yourself completely? It illustrates to me I am perfect as I am -It gives me peace because when I look out in the class I see everyone -all sizes shapes and abilities. I really don’t see that anywhere else. There is no competition in yoga so I feel I am not trying to live up to anyone Else’s ideals.
The intention behind Chelsea Loves Yoga is to illuminate the voices and images of yogis who are not always seen or portrayed in mainstream yoga publications. What is your experience in Canada in terms of diversity? How diverse is the yoga scene?
There isn’t a whole lot of diversity in Yoga in Canada. I am the only black yoga teacher in my area. I am one of about 10 black people who practice? I am not sure why? I am excited that you are showing the world who all is doing yoga. I am always trying to get more people of colour to yoga. I would love to see more men in yoga. I wrote a blog that speaks to this: Yoga: Not Just for Young, Skinny White Girls
Can you talk about the significance of seeing multiple, races, ethnicities, body types, genders, etc. practicing yoga and how that relates to empowerment and balance?
I think people need to move away from what they see on the front of Yoga Journal. and similar publications. It seems to me that modern day media has created the image of the western yogi as a function of beauty and as a function of peace, health, empowerment, and self love. I challenge Yoga Journal to put an average person who practices on the cover; someone with tight hips and hamstrings trying their best to do a pose they feel comfortable in.. I challenge YJ to move beyond the yogalebrities. Someone doing a pose in which they feel comfortable as opposed to acrobatics. This is one of the ways we change people’s perceptions. Yoga really and truly is for everyone. We need to see everyone doing it. Not just the young and flexible. The world is made up of everyone. How can we empower people if we just cater to a small minority? Most people I see in my practice would NEVER be on YJ or a lululemon ambassador…we need everyone!