Yoga classes aim to train more Indigenous instructors in Saskatchewan, promote healing

Some yogis in Saskatchewan are hoping to spread the practice to more Indigenous people.

The Saskatchewan Indigenous Yoga Association just wrapped up a month long course training Indigenous instructors.

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The goal is to compare yoga philosophies and Indigenous worldviews.

Many students said yoga has helped them to heal. Raylene Kennedy’s sister died eight years ago.

Since then she’s been trying things like CrossFit and other physical activities, and more recently yoga

“I’ve been sober for seven (years) and I just find new tools to add into my healing journey on the way,” she said.

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Students said many yoga philosophies and Indigenous values line up.

“Kindness in my culture, being kind to yourself, respecting the relationships practicing reciprocity with the natural world,” said Lisa Langan, describing those values.

Instructors said practising yoga can help unlock some untapped emotions for Indigenous students.

“People on their yoga mat will sometimes have deeper incites, or they’ll begin to acknowledge or feel feelings,” said co-founder Dawn Deguire.

She said she wanted to bring yoga to more Indigenous people and communities in the province.

“Indigenous people often don’t feel welcome or ready to go to a traditional yoga studio,” she said, adding some live in communities without studio options.

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For some students, it’s the mix of mental and physical work in yoga that speaks to them, they said.

“Its just a different way that combines mind, body and soul and that for me was what really had me attached to the practice,” said Lydia Sunchild.

She said she wants to start teaching at community organizations in Saskatoon to help spread the practice.

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Joseph Naytowhow is a knowledge keeper with the group. He said it’s important to show Indigenous people different paths that could help them heal.

“A lot of our people have suffered experiencing intergenerational trauma or just trauma like myself,” he said.

“It takes a lot to clear that, to heal from that, and yoga helps and so does ceremony.”

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Students from the class said they are excited to bring more classes to friends, families, and other First Nations.

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