After receiving a phone call seeking Indigenous yoga instructors, Dawn Deguire saw it as a sign to make yoga more about her career than her well-being.
Deguire, a member of the Muskoday First Nation in Saskatchewan, co-founded the Saskatchewan Indigenous Yoga Association (SIYA).
“It began with a prayer, actually, to the universe for Creator just to get me back to my yoga practice because I was overwhelmed and I wasn’t in a good space,” she said.
“I was working, and I remembered the last time I really felt good was when I was immersed into my yoga practice.”
Not long after that things fell into place.
Deguire was contacted by local yogi David Edney, who wanted to recruit more Indigenous yoga instructors by starting a scholarship yoga program.
“I actually ended up applying for that program,” she said.
Deguire and Edney incorporated Indigenous culture into the program, which has been running for three years.
Shayna Thomas, from the Kinistin Saulteaux Nation in Saskatchewan, took the course. She said as an educator, she plans to use her yoga instructor training in her classroom.
The focus of this year’s SIYA program was teaching yoga to youth and people with accessibility needs.
Roberta Dubrois, of the Pasqua First Nation in Saskatchewan, plans to use her training to launch her own business and work with youth.
“I do plan on bringing yoga to our community, but also to surrounding communities,” she said.
Dubrois said yoga has so many benefits that it’s not just for exercise.
After recently suffering the loss of her daughter, Dubrois said the program and yoga helped her through her grief.
“During COVID-19 I did lose my daughter recently so at the time it was a moment of trying to find another path.”
Dubrois said yoga is teaching her how to heal from her grief and help others heal.
“I am so thankful because the program itself has shown a lot of opportunity for internal growth and internal spirituality and developing coping mechanisms,” she said.
“It’s been probably one of the most life-changing moments I had.”