Our Centre Community: Chetna Boyd – Yoga Journey

Chetna, part of our Centre community

Chetna, part of our Centre community

I was that kid who always had the questions, “what if I’m just dreaming, and I wonder what it’s going to be like when I wake up” running through my head. I would often question my friends, who would look at me like, can we just play please! So, that summer, at 9 years old when I went to visit my father in Stewart, BC I had my first taste of “Yoga.” I found myself climbing up into some rafters with a friend, chanting Hare Krishna, Kirshna, Krishna, Hare, Hare, Hare Krishna…I had no idea what it meant or what I was singing, but a seed must have been planted.

Me at 9 years old, Stewart, BC

Me at 9 years old, Stewart, BC

Life went on, I grew up, went to school, I travelled and lived in Mexico and Costa Rica, moved back to Victoria, got married, went back to school and studied some more, got divorced, you know, regular stuff. So, what brought me to Yoga as an adult? Why, suffering of course. I had been experiencing a health-related issue and heard that Yoga was great for all sorts of things, so I tried it and lo and behold, like magic, my symptoms dissipated.

Fast forward to the spring of 2002: My family surprised me with birthday gift to a Yoga Getaway weekend at the Salt Spring Centre of Yoga, and since I had been secretly looking at the centre’s website for many months, you can imagine my surprise. I was excited, I was nervous. All the practice I had done up to that point was self-directed, through books and small local asana classes. I remember that weekend like it was yesterday: all of my fears dissolved. During the weekend I felt like I awoke from a deep sleep and felt things that I hadn’t felt before, both physically and emotionally. At the end of the weekend, Kishori, who had been leading classes in meditation and asana, looked at me and said “you know, we have a program called Yoga Teacher Training, and I think you’d love it” and she handed me a brochure. I thought she must have been mistaken about me, but on my drive home, I had a flash of insight…if not me, then who, and if not now, then when? And so it was then that my relationship with the Salt Spring Centre of Yoga and Baba Hari Dass began.

Salt Spring Centre of Yoga - Parsvakonasana

Salt Spring Centre of Yoga – Parsvakonasana

In the summer of 2003 I started Yoga Teacher Training and yes, I was excited, I was nervous. I wasn’t sure how it would all unfold and what it all meant. I only knew that I was being called to look at life from a different perspective. They say when the student is ready the teacher will come, and so it was on the day I walked into the satsang room and saw Babaji sitting in his chair, head down, looking at something. So, I brought my hands together at my heart and bowed my head, thinking I had anonymously paid respect. Without missing a beat, Babaji did the same and our eyes met. It was the first time that I had actually felt like I had been seen. This was a deep seeing, beyond the body and into the soul. I felt a tears trickle down my cheeks, which surprised me. It almost took my breath away….I was excited, I was nervous.

One of the last visits Babaji made to the Centre 2007

One of the last visits Babaji made to the Centre 2007

As long as I can remember, my life has been dedicated to service, whether it be by sticking up for the kid in school that everyone picked on, doing volunteer work in support of immigrants and refugees or through public service with the provincial government. So the mission of SSCY through the practice of karma yoga or selfless service as prescribed by Babaji was a good fit with my own vision of world.

Dallas Road, Victoria, BC

Dallas Road, Victoria, BC

I have received two very insightful teachings from Babaji. The first is, “if you work on yoga, yoga will work on you.” I hold the belief that Yoga is practice of getting to know oneself. And I have to say travelling this road and getting to know myself hasn’t always been an easy one, in fact , the truth is sometimes it’s been downright difficult learning about myself and how I move through the world – I can’t “unknow” what I now know about myself, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. The other teaching that I have received from Babaji is “teach to learn.” Yoga has been working on me and through me, by offering what I have learned about this deep well of Yoga. I began teaching public classes in Victoria in 2003 and since 2007, I have been on the faculty of the Yoga Teacher Training team, part of the YTT committee, teaching at the Getaway Weekends (the same ones that brought me to the centre) and in October of this year, taught the first Yoga for Cancer therapeutic workshop to 22 yoga teachers (I was excited, I was nervous).

YTT, 2014

YTT, 2014

After a meeting with Babaji where we “talked” and laughed about life and love, in 2008, I met my samskara mate*, Rick (Svaroop), who has come to teach me much about love and commitment and more importantly, laughter. I am grateful beyond words that Babaji came into my life in the most profound and gentle way. His teachings and example of how to live a peaceful life of service has become such a large part of my life. The centre itself and all the hard work of the larger community have made the land a sacred, safe haven for me, and for my family who have come to visit during YTT for the past 6 years, not to mention the hundreds of visitors & students who come to forge a deeper relationship with themselves and experience a little piece of heaven on earth. What more can I say, beside “108 thank you’s” Babaji. OM

Me and my love, doing what we do best – laughing!

Me and my love, doing what we do best – laughing!

* samskara mate: someone whose tendencies and conditioning line up with yours, drawing you to each other. People often refer to someone as their “soul mate”, but as Babaji points out, the soul never mates.

Asana of the Month: Utthita Parsvkonasana

Utthita Parsvkonasana/Extended Side Angle

chetna-parsvakonasa-a-1

I love this pose, it’s like the best early morning stretch any time of the day! It’s strengthening, stabilizing, lengthening, and expands the rib cage to encourage a full deep breath. It’s hip opening, creates tone in the muscles and flexibility in the legs and allows the pelvis and abdomen to widen. It’s a full experience for the body, breath and mind. The only thing it doesn’t do is make me a cup of tea, but other than that, it has everything really!

Benefits

  • Strengthens legs
  • Increases peripheral circulation
  • Strengthens and opens hip rotators
  • Lateral rotation of trunk lengthens the spine and massages the digestive organs
  • Can relieve sciatic and arthritic pain

Actions

  • Standing
  • Hip Opener
  • Lateral bend

Coming into the pose

  • Standing in Tadasana in the middle of your mat, step the feet apart approx 1 of your actual legs distance apart aligning big toe to big toe
  • Externally rotate the right foot 90 degrees in the hip socket, and internally rotate the right foot slightly
  • Engage your core, by drawing the pelvic floor up and in between the pubic bone and the navel back towards the spine
  • Inhale, and then exhale as you bend the right knee, so that the knee is stacked over the ankle, the shin perpendicular to the floor and the thigh is parallel to the floor.
  • Ensure that your knee is not collapsing to the middle of the mat by gently pressing the knee to the outside of the mat
  • Root through the outside edge of the back foot to stabilize the ankle and reduce pronation in the back foot
  • Raise the arms shoulder height so they are parallel with the floor – allow the shoulder blades to slide down the back
  • Breathe
  • Reach forward with the right arm, creating length in the spine and release the right forearm on to the thigh. Avoid collapsing in the right waist and sinking weight into the forearm
  • Raise the left arm towards the sky and then lower the arm over the left ear with the palm facing the floor
  • Rotate the head and ribcage to face the sky
  • Keep the core engaged, and breathe

To come out of the pose

  • Ground/root down through the feet, inhale and lift through the extended arm as you straighten the bent knee.
  • Turn both feet forward and relax your arms by your sides, and return to Tadasana

Modifications
For an increased stretch to your groin, perform this pose with the lower arm in front of the bent-knee thigh. As your fingertips or hand connect with the floor or block, bring the back of your right shoulder against the inner knee so that your shoulder can firmly press into the knee.

chetna-ext-side-angle-2

Modify by placing a block under your hand as a guide

For Beginners – Instead of placing the hand on the floor, rest your forearm on the top of your bent-knee thigh. Avoid resting on the thigh and collapsing into the right shoulder. Encourage the length to move between right shoulder and neck and to lightly lift the upper body weight away from the bent-knee thigh. Beginners may also place a block under the hand as a guide.

About the Instructor

chetna-head-shot-1aChetna has been studying yoga and its many aspects since 1999. She began teaching in 2003 and is a graduate of the Salt Spring Centre of Yoga (SSCY), where she was certified in Classical Ashtanga (8 limb) and Hatha Yoga Systems. She is currently completing an internship in Yoga Therapy through Integrated Yoga Therapy and has received her Professional Yoga Therapist certification (500 hour level). Chetna is registered with the Yoga Alliance as an E-RYT500.

Chetna teaches beginner, intermediate and Therapeutic Yoga for specific conditions such as breast cancer, in the Victoria area. She joined the faculty of the SSCY Yoga Teacher Trainings in 2007.

Chetna draws inspiration from bearing witness to the transformational and healing effects Yoga has had on her life and the lives of others. While she began Yoga primarily as a physical practice, it has become a part of everything in her life. Her gentle approach to teaching promotes an environment that is relaxing and encouraging, empowering and fun.