I met Monika in yoga teacher training, and we fell in love instantly! She reminded me of a Chihuahua. She's small, Polish, built like a gymnast with curves and she's usually shivering from a chill. I had never before thought about my own canine. What was I? Monika thought, Border Collie. Well, I have had a love affair with black and white since since my Gran introduced it to me as a child!
Our relationship flourished into sisterhood and friend ... a meeting of old souls and a relationship that would blossom into the birth of The Art of Yoga, our very own yoga studio.
Yoga has been a part of my life since my early twenties, the practice never fails to leave me with an effervescence of sunny joy deep within my soul. Teacher training took me into the deeper aspects of this ancient practice. I was learning Sanskrit, anatomy, chanting, Ayurveda, Deities, healing yoga. It was overwhelming, exciting and one of the hardest and most gratifying things that happened in my life.
Upon graduating 10 months later, I thought, I know nothing! I was put to the test every time I stood at the front of the room to teach, my students were now my teachers and I learned so much over the course of eight years.
Another business was not really the plan as my husband has a business and I had recently absolved a business. When I began working for a few studios I was quite shocked at how few props these studios had available, perhaps I was a little prop reliant but frankly it makes the poses accessible to everyone. I might be a tad crazy about blankets, blocks, straps and chairs and such but it's the sort of yoga I enjoy teaching.
So there I was, fresh out of school and Monika agreed that Waterdown needed our kind of yoga studio!
We envisioned fostering a community of loving energy, teaching functional body movement for all bodies, sowing the seeds of healing and wellness and weaving a sense of humour and playfulness into the art of yoga. We were so passionate and excited to share the power that yoga offers on and off the mat!
We spent the summer sewing bolsters and sandbags, setting up a website and media and of course looking for the perfect space. We found it in a small decommissioned church that a photographer was renting and was willing to share the space with us. He was an exceptional photographer, very eccentric, difficult to pin down and I wasn't sure if I could trust him.
However, the church was special and we could make it work. We were set to go! But on the night we were supposed to meet for keys and an exchange of money our photographer friend was a no show. What to do? We were on a tight timeline; we were going to start setting up our space that weekend.
Fortunately, my husband came home that evening and told me of a for rent sign in the jam factory. Wow! This is a wonderful 1850’s building in the heart of Waterdown. When my husband and I moved here in the early eighties, they were still boiling down giant vats of berries to make jam within the thick stone walls of the factory, and Waterdown smelled like a big jar of strawberry jam.
On the Tuesday, I was on my way to meet the realtor, driving through my favourite forest on Mountain Brow Road, following a very slow pick-up. As soon as we were through the forest I'd pass him and be on my way. We came around the corner to a standstill of stopped vehicles. Looking ahead, I saw about a hundred sheep making their way towards Waterdown. The cars were slowly following them herding them along.
I was thinking, Where am I, in Scotland? What is wrong with everyone, why aren't they doing anything? these sheep are going to end up in Waterdown!
Without really giving much thought to my actions, I pulled Pearl, that's my car, slowly ahead passing all the cars and somehow managed to maneuver myself ahead of the cars and the sheep. I got out of my car and started waving my arms at the sheep, running back and forth across the road and yelling at them to "git"! Miraculously they turned around and headed home. I took a bow to all the cars and drove off to meet Monika at The Jam Factory.
That was my day of reckoning, I was a Border Collie! Monika did have my canine pegged!
We signed a lease that very day for our new studio space. It was meant to be, because a couple months later the photographer was looking for a new space as the church was being turned into condos.
Cindy Nichols currently lives in Waterdown with her husband Ron and their cat Gustav. She is a lover of nature, gardening, cooking, jazz, hiking and body movement of all kinds, especially yoga. Cindy and Monika were partners of The Art of Yoga Studio in Waterdown from 2008 to 2015. Cindy is taking a break from owning a business and is enjoying trying her hand in the art of writing.
See Brian Henry’s schedule here, including writing workshops, writing retreats, and creative writing courses in Algonquin Park, Alton, Barrie, Bracebridge, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Collingwood, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Ingersoll, Kingston, Kitchener, London, Midland, Mississauga, Newmarket, Orillia, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, St. John, NB, Sudbury, Thessalon, Toronto, Windsor, Halton, Ingersoll, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.