live your heart out
Move purposefully. Love Wholeheartedly. Be present
"to live-your-heart-out is To live a full and healthy life - one with uninhibited joy, courage, and expression of true self." Nancy Ma
yoga coach & women's health physiotherapist
It April of 2015, I took a spontaneous trip to Vegas with a girlfriend and our little babies before finishing up our mat leave. On our flight home, we caught the red eye coming back to Toronto and landed at 7AM on Friday morning. From the airport, my husband drove me straight downtown to the Metro Convention Centre and we arrived at 8:45 AM. For the next three days, I was enrolled in back to back workshops at The Toronto Yoga Conference.
I did not anticipate how much this conference would transform my entire yoga practice, career and the future of my family—transformed for the better.
Rewind 11 months. I had given birth to a baby girl, Nyla, who challenged every decision I made from the time she was in the womb. When I was five months pregnant, I realized that hitting it hard at the gym did not serve my body anymore. I became very mindful and took it easy. I was also very aware of the food I was eating. I discovered the local Goodness Me! whole living grocery store and started eating clean and organic. I felt that the mindful movement and eating prepared me very well for her birth.
When Nyla was 12 weeks old, I started getting serious about my yoga practice. Since I was on maternity leave, I had time to try many studios and styles, finally settling on a local studio that suited my needs well at the time.
When Nyla was five months old, I was in the best shape I had ever been in—better than my gym days. I knew yoga was the secret. I was keen on learning more. Being the eternal student that I am, I was eager to learn from the best. I came across The Yoga Conference magazine in the yoga studio lounge and I asked the teachers who inspired them. I signed up for a bunch of workshops right away from world-renowned yoga teachers..
At the conference I learned from J-P Tamblyn-Sabo, Natasha Rizopoulous, Jill Miller and Seane Corn. I relished every glorious minute I had with them and soaked in all the information I could.
I felt so high. I felt like a yoga pirate who discovered a treasure chest full of gold! With all my newfound yoga knowledge, I could help my patients so much more! But the thought of leaving my daughter to return to full-time work also filled me with dread. I was torn.
I was so absorbed in all the learning from the workshops that I didn’t have time to make it to the show floor. At the end of the conference, I quickly ran to each booth and grabbed flyers, brochures, business cards, anything I could, to see what these vendors had to offer. I love going to these shows and I was sad to not be able to meet the local artisans and entrepreneurs.
After the weekend was over, I sat in my bedroom and pored over my collection of yoga promo material. And I came across something that filled me with wonder. It read:
YOGA RETREAT FOR SALE
Suddenly, It made sense to me. I put it out to the universe that I wanted to continue to help patients and those in need of healing, but I didn’t want to go back to work in a clinic.
And then an epiphany hit me so hard in the head I could not ignore it.
I would move my family from the city to the boonies and run health-and-wellness retreats. In nature.
My husband was shocked. “You want to move to the country?!!? YOU, the city girl, high-heel-wearing, Sephora-obsessed, Goodlife-go-er want to move to the country?!? Away from your parents ? Away from sushi and pho restaurants?”
And he said, “I’m in!”.
You see, growing up, I lived in a bubble. My parents were refugees and they had a hard life. They worked hard so that I did not have to. I was very comfortable. I had a job I loved. I married my high school sweetheart. Life was very predictable.
But when we had Nyla, I wanted more for her. I wanted her to be fulfilled and grow up believing she could do anything and be anything she wanted. I wanted her to be curious and explore the world. And that meant being brave sometimes. Taking risks. Challenging the status quo.
I believed in my heart this yoga retreat would give our family what we needed. Connection to the earth and each other. And the chance to help others to do the same.
In January of 2016, we finally found and moved to a perfect place to fulfill my dreams in Grimsby, Ontario, a small town in the middle of beautiful wine country and only a one-hour drive from downtown Toronto (none of my friends have ever heard of this town before).
The journey to get here hasn’t always been easy, but whenever I pull up to the driveway lined with towering maple trees, I am reminded of just how fortunate I am to be in such a magical place.
When I say it is magical, it is an understatement. In January, I held an inspiring yoga retreat for ten female entrepreneurs and after a bonfire with hot chocolate and s’mores, ten deer came prancing one by one in front of us. We believed each deer represented each and every one of us. My heart was filled with so much love and happiness as this was a clear sign to me that I made the right choice to move here.
My dream for hosting the retreats is to create a magical place that people could get away for a day (or week) and return home with a new perspective and inspiration to live a more balanced and vibrant life. These wellness retreats all have different themes, but there is always a little bit of yoga, a little bit of organic wine and kombucha, a lot of yummy and earth-inspired foods, some time in nature and an experience that will last a lifetime.
I’m a city girl at heart, but I became a country bumpkin because I wanted my children to grow up surrounded by nature. In fact, our family teamed up with Niagara's Nature School, a non-profit organization passionate about providing an outdoor forest school environment for children to play, learn, explore, create, and move. By attending these retreats, you are supporting an amazing cause.