The Power of Yoga

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Every Wednesday at noon from May until August Lululemon hosts yoga on Parliament Hill, bringing a different teacher every week. This year marks Lululemon’s 10th year of free yoga on the Hill. 

Yoga teacher Andrea Robertson and yogis on the Hill Jane Allain and Taylor Pieprzak speak to Ottawa Life about their experiences with yoga.

Robertson led Wednesday’s class on the Hill for the 8th year in a row. Not only is she a yoga teacher, she is also a boot camp trainer, traveller, mother of two, and founder of Body and Balance.

Body and Balance reveals all her passions through the programs she offers.  Her love for nature and running are offered through boot camps on Parliament Hill. Her love for yoga, balance and travelling are also extended to yoga retreats around the world.

Ottawa Life: What led you to your passion for yoga?

Andrea Robertson: I was a runner, running is my first love. I started to get really tight and injured and I started to practice yoga. Then I started practicing yoga more than I did running. I use to run to escape, then I started doing yoga to sit with everything and be okay with everything.

With my experience a lot of runners run to get out of their heads and escape. I just like the idea of just sitting, and being.

What do you hope people get from the classes you teach on the Hill?

I want to reach everyone at all levels. I wanted to make this class accessible, and I wanted to get people out of their heads and into their breath and body. I want people to spend an hour with themselves and their breath without any attachments, or distractions like the office, or home.

It’s beautiful to see so many people practice at so many levels.

What is special about practicing on the Hill?

You can’t really do this in the States, you can’t practice in front of the White House. That in itself is incredible that we can practice on the Hill. I know that there is security around but it’s not obvious. It feels like everyone belongs here, its accessible to everybody.

Where are you originally from?

I moved around a lot growing up. I’d say Ottawa is my home because I’ve been here the longest.

I lacked a community growing up, I never felt like I belonged until I came to Ottawa and discovered the community of yoga. Parliament Hill is my second home, I know it’s only in the summer months but everyone comes together and practices yoga. You see old friends, new friends, everyone is very friendly.

Before and during speaking with Robertson her friends, supporters, and followers continued to congratulate her with hugs and smiles, and wondered where her travels were taking her next.

What do you hope people will learn from yoga?

I hope everyone practices. I am so sick of everyone, including myself on their devices and getting lost in that and not even knowing the downfalls. Yoga is one of the things where you have to not have your phone. I’d like to see a lot more people being disconnected from their phones.  I’d like to see people get out of their heads and know their body. Your mat is like your mirror to everything, you can’t hide from your breath, you have to breathe through it.

Robertson’s class was a date for Jane Allain and her husband, it was their first parliament yoga experience and her husband’s first time ever practicing yoga.

Allain tells Ottawa Life she’s on sick leave from her career as a lawyer, and she has been using yoga as a way to recover from her concussions.

Ottawa Life: How long have you been practicing yoga?

Jane Allain: I’ve been doing yoga with Andrea for eight years but I’m not very good at it.

What are Andrea’s classes like?

They’re amazing, she has wonderful energy and she’s extremely positive.

The thing that I love about her is that she always tells us to close our eyes and focus on ourselves and not anyone else. No matter where our heart is at that’s where our body wants to go, she’s very encouraging and soothing at the same time and pushes us at the same time.

Mostly, she’s a lot of fun.

How has your life been impacted by yoga?

Yoga taught me to be in the moment.

What is special about doing yoga on Parliament Hill?

I worked at the library at Parliament for five years. I loved working there, and its nice to be on the other side.

It’s a great gathering place, but for us to have the privilege to sit where our major institution of government is, on an open field surrounded by beautiful buildings and beautiful flowers at peace. To me that shows what a wonderful country we live in and I feel very privileged to have that opportunity.

Taylor Pieprzak, from Barrie and is in Ottawa for the Tamarack Race Weekend.

Like Allain, he also uses yoga for recovery.

Ottawa Life: What is your background in yoga?

Taylor Pieprzak: I use it a lot for active recovery for sport and mobility in sport, it goes hand in hand with my cycling and running background.

What made you get into yoga?

Stretching and the euphoric sensation you feel afterwards, not in a spiritual sense but in a physical sense.

Pieprzak has been working with Lululemon in Barrie and says it encourages him to practice yoga more.

However, he says when he went to Carleton he practiced a lot more with Pure Yoga, which is where Robertson teaches.

He raves about Pure Yoga and co-owners Amber Stratton and Jen Dalgleish.

What is special about yoga on the Hill?

Its open to the community and any one and everyone can come enjoy what Lululemon created.

In not many places will you find up to 2000 yogis every week practicing together, and coming together as one.

How has it impacted your life in other ways?

It brings a calmness to your life, balance, and gives you time to sit down and have time to yourself and be aware with your physical body.

Yoga on the Hill has affected many people in Ottawa positively. Experience it yourself at next week’s class taught by Nigel Walker who will also be at the City of OM and Glow Fair and if you want to experience Andrea Robertson’s classes she will also be at City of Om June 3rd.