Quaint and scenic, the Town of Deep River was mentioned in the movie Mulholland Drive where Betty (played by Naomi Watts), the young actress struggling to cope in Hollywood says, "I just came here from Deep River, Ontario, and now I'm in this ... dream place. You can imagine how I feel." Located along the Ottawa River, the peaceful town is also where the founder of Traveling Mat Yoga, Bonita Chan, resides. A city turned valley girl, Bonita has spent the majority of her life in Hong Kong and Toronto until an opportunity came up to move to the beautiful town.
We had the pleasure to speaking to Bonita who shares her journey to become a yoga instructor and more importantly, how she helps her students to shed layers of negativity to reconnect with one’s inner self.
Why did you pick yoga amongst other sports?
I turned to Yoga at a hectic juncture in my life. I was searching for something beyond my career and I knew that the commitment towards a Yoga Teacher Training Program would feed me the courage, clarity, and enlightenment that I was seeking.
When did you decide and how did you find your calling to become a yoga instructor?
In the midst of our relocation to Deep River, I saw the move as an opportunity to do something novel and courageous. I had a desire to create something from the heart. My vision for Traveling Mat Yoga was clear; I wanted to help feed others exactly what Yoga feeds me. It is about delivering a guiding light to you no matter where you are.
Being a graduate of psychology, how do you leverage your knowledge to enhance yoga teaching and experience?
Psychology and Yoga go hand in hand. It is about being aware of your inner being. Yoga is a powerful tool and I leverage my practices as a method of empowerment. It is about teaching each one of my students that we all have the power to control how our body moves, what our mind thinks, and how our heart feels. As a graduate of psychology, I am always trying to find meaningful ways to support and facilitate transformation and personal growth in people. As such, I personally feel there is no method more rewarding than yoga. In my classes, you will find that I challenge my students physically and mentally. I encourage the connection and focused harmony of mind, body, and spirit, living our each present moment to its fullest as we discover ourselves on the mat.
My students are encouraged to cultivate self-discovery and self-love. Collectively, we step on our mats, we turn inward, and honor our inner spirits. Discovering our own authentic movements by following the rhythm of our breath. Individually, we shed layers of expectations, ego, and judgments, as we each dive into the process of reuniting with our true selves - who have been waiting to emerge.
What is your biggest gain of starting Traveling Mat Yoga?
One of the most rewarding things about my business is the ability to cultivate a sense of community and philanthropy. From hosting fundraisers to providing free community yoga programming; I am so fortunate to have the support of the community to stand by me in giving back. And this is only the beginning! I now have a group of incredible women that volunteer in furthering my not-for-profit projects.
What has starting your own business taught you?
Starting Traveling Mat Yoga has taught me that anything is possible if you believe in your mission and commit to it. I started this journey with no connections, experiences, or investments. I started my business in a new community; I did not know a single soul aside from my partner’s family members. I went from an empty Yoga room with no students to working with the municipality on a range of programming. Amazingly, Traveling Mat Yoga even connected me with a professional opportunity at a leading nuclear science and technology organization! I am proud of what Traveling Mat Yoga represents; the possibilities are endless if you faithfully commit to your craft!
What does it take if someone is interested to get into this business?
My three C's! Courage, compassion, and commitment.
- Courage: The courage to start! It all starts somewhere, community pools, churches, clubs, wherever. The courage to starts means being positive, being open, and being vulnerable. Start now, don't look back!
- Compassion, to me, is when we all meet as equals on our mats. The ability to befriend each other, no matter what, is a major component in guiding individuals, groups, and teams in their Yoga and Mindfulness practice.
- Commitment to your craft. Understand that consistency, competition, and attention to detail will help you succeed. There will be challenging experiences in your journey and you must stay committed throughout for results.
What is your favorite healthy recipe?
Butternut Squash Pasta! A vegan recipe that is so satisfying!
Fried Chicken from Bar Fancy in Toronto!!!!!!
How do you see yourself in 5 years?
I see myself leveraging Traveling Mat Yoga as a philanthropic platform that gives back to the communities that it operates in.
What is the one quote that keeps you going?
“When in doubt, do the right thing”-by me
If you have not become a trainer, what would you be?
A Philanthropist! I strive to become a leader in my community and I am proud to say that I have begun my philanthropic journey with Traveling Mat Yoga.
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