A perfect space for practising yoga

The Yoga Loft is aptly named. It's a gorgeous space surrounded by windows on three sides that offer glimpses of treetops. Inside, the room seems spacious and spare, projecting a natural calm. Yoga instructors Christine Roocroft and Saskia Gould say that they "love their new space" located at 344 B Creek Road, on top of "Uncle Mark's" workshop.

Gould and Roocroft met in 2006 through practising yoga on Bowen Island. A few years later, they both rented Collins Hall to offer yoga classes. The decision to form a partnership and find a space together was a natural one as they have developed a friendship along the way. "We like working together," Gould says. "I really appreciate Christine for being so down-to-earth and sincere. And our different styles of yoga complement one another."

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Gould offers Iyengar Yoga classes while Roocroft teaches Hatha Yoga. The atmosphere between them is one of mutual encouragement and not competitiveness, Gould said, adding that they encourage their students to try different approaches and then make a choice to go with one or the other or even practise a combination. "We've developed a friendship that is based on trust," Roocroft explains. "We want to project the same love of yoga and an attitude of caring about our students as opposed to seeing this purely as a business venture."

And they also attend one another's classes. "What I practise is more of a flow," Roocroft says. "It's good for me to take a Iyengar class once in the while because it offers different benefits."

Even though their style of yoga is different, Gould and Roocroft share a love for teaching. "It is so gratifying to see students find a sense of balance, improve their posture, health and self-confidence," Gould says. "Yoga is about bringing together mind, body and soul. It physically strengthens the body to create a sense of well-being. Mentally, yoga enhances the intellect. It also steadies emotions and encourages caring concern for others."

Roocroft explains, "The physical postures help with the breath so you can work with the mind. At the end of the session, I do a reading that reflects thoughts and intention based around compassion."

Gould has a similar approach and says that being in a class where some students can do headstands and others can't teaches patience and awareness of various physical limitations.

"We teach people of many different levels. Just practising together enables us to cultivate compassion," Roocroft says. It's a tangible effect, according to Roocroft, that sometimes might just be noticeable when "you don't get mad at someone who cuts you off."

Gould attributes that to gaining a sense of balance in emotions. "The first things we have to practise, even before the postures, are truth and non-violence," she says, adding, "and not being greedy."

When Roocroft started practising yoga, she was more interested in the physical aspects but that soon changed. "Nearly right away, I noticed a change in the way I felt," she recalls. "I definitely felt lighter and more joyous after a class." Going on to teacher training was the next logical step for her. Roocroft has a Hatha Yoga teacher certification from the South Okanagan Yoga Association where she completed a 500-hour-course. She is also certified to teach yoga for golfers. She has been offering yoga classes since 2006 and originally started with a yoga fit program though the Community Recreation office. Since then, she has taught yoga at BICS, including a Kindergarten class. She has also been running a program for teens that is currently offered at the Yoga Loft from 4:15 to 5:15 p.m. on Wednesdays.

Gould is a certified Iyengar Yoga instructor and has completed five years of teacher training. She has taught for 10 years and shared her reason for taking up yoga. "I was a model and was working internationally," she said. "For me, yoga was a way to find a sense of integration. Modelling causes a lot of separation between the body and the mind and yoga brings them back together."

Roocroft and Gould believe that students should always enquire about certification, insurance and experience before signing up for yoga classes.

Both instructors also run businesses that are separate from the yoga studio. Gould owns Wildwood Lane Cottages and Roocroft has a landscaping business: T-Rex. She says that her yoga practice helps with the physical aspects of landscaping. "I offer all my employees free yoga," she says. "It's really hard on the body to be bending over, lifting and planting all the time."

The Yoga Loft is well equipped, so there is no need to bring any props. To sign up, email Roocroft at roocroft@telus.net. Drop in fees are $20 for 90 minutes, the rate for teen yoga is $10. Five and 10-class cards offer generous discounts. "If you buy a card, there is no expiry date," Roocroft said, adding that cards can be shared, "If you want to bring a friend, you can charge both fees to the card and get the same discount."

The Yoga Loft's winter session started on January 5, in time for putting New Year's resolutions into action.

Gould and Roocroft are ready to welcome students and expressed their gratitude to Uncle Mark for making the space "up in the trees" available.

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