A Fresh Approach to Yoga (Nov. 30, 2013)

For my November 30th article about studio 330 yoga in Kingston, ON, A Fresh Approach to Yoga, either click here or keep on reading!*

 

*A note, which I feel terribly about– I conducted this interview via email, so Dallas and I never got a chance to meet in person. I’ve only ever known one Dallas before, and it was a guy– which I assumed was the case with this Dallas. It very much is not, and I apologize very sincerely to Ms. Delahunt for the mix up.

 

As the temperatures drop and the hours of darkness in the day grow, many of us find ourselves heading inside to work out. Jogging by the lake in July is all fun and games, but it takes pretty darn stoic weekend warrior to brave a windy, dark, -10 run day after day. Perhaps I lack the necessary hearty Canadian blood, but I know I find frigid temperatures to be less than motivating.

As a result, many head to the gym during the winter months. This is great — but can get a little boring as the season wears on. With that in mind, I’ll be profiling three independent fitness facilities in Kingston throughout my articles for the coming weeks. These locally run, innovative, and unique spots prove there is so much more to a workout routine than 40 minutes on the elliptical.

The first of these spots is studio 330 yoga, run by co-founder Dallas Delahunt. Cleary passionate about his work, his lifestyle, and his studio, Dallas filled me on both the details of the studio and the broader contours of yoga in general.

Founded in early 2009, studio 330 was formed with simple, balanced principles in mind. “We believe that yoga — simply yoga — is a call to embrace physical and emotional wellness, foster a community, and to the exploration of self as individuals and our relationship to the world. Our goal is to make yoga more accessible financially and physically,” Dallas told me.

And accessible it is. Among other reasons, studio 330 caught my eye because it is run strictly on a donation, pay-what-you-can-afford system. In a day and age of $30 per class fitness joints, this approach is incredibly refreshing and sincere. In a way, it’s putting the principles of yoga to use in a small business context. Dallas told me that having a donation-based studio was always his vision and goal. “It levels the playing field and removes at least one obstacle for people, allowing them an opportunity to practice more regularly. It is important for people to understand that we truly want you to pay what you can. Take the time to figure out how often you want to practice, the value of it, and then pay the amount that will allow for a sustainable practice.”

Beyond that, studio 330 is a ‘drop-in’ studio–no monthly, seasonal, or yearly commitment required–making it perfect for those in need of a little flexibility in their schedule, or who just want to give yoga a try.

The clientele at studio 330 is quite varied. Dallas noted that although it’s predominantly female, he sees “more and more men on their mats every day.” Many Queen’s and St. Lawrence students frequent the spot–making studio 330’s donation-based approach that much trickier in the summer months.

Dallas also pointed out that, though the studio does not offer beginner-specific classes, studio 330 teaches to every level in the room; meaning that no matter your level of yoga experience, you’ll find a class satisfying and functional. “Our goal is to hold safe space for everyone,” Dallas noted. For those very shy beginners, though, the studio also holds private lessons.

After going through the nitty-gritty of his studio, I asked Dallas some more broad, thematic, yogi-based questions. Though I knew I was running the risk of asking the obvious, I asked Dallas for a definition of yoga. “Yoga means union,” Dallas told me. “The understanding that there is no separation. I truly feel that through this belief and practice, that we ARE all one, we will know peace and have compassion for all. Yoga is a healing art where we are invited to explore, uncover and discover our highest potential.”

For many of us, though, that isn’t all of what yoga means. Culturally, the word ‘yoga’ evokes images of shaggy hair, a vegan diet, and a left-of-centre political outlook. I was extremely curious as to Dallas’ thoughts on this.

“I just received an email of thanks from a new student this morning, letting us know that they appreciate our unpretentious and inclusive approach to the practice. Although yoga does align with a more liberal political bent, and a vegetarian lifestyle, the goal of 330 is to foster an inclusive environment. It’s not our position to judge anyone’s political, social, lifestyle ways. I, personally, don’t have a problem with people associating yoga to a stereotype of yogis that involve a more liberal political bent, vegetarianism/veganism lifestyle. They certainly aren’t harmful ways of living. Although I do have a more liberal approach and live a vegan lifestyle, I’ve never been the hippie kind of yogi. I think it’s all ok if it’s balanced. I have met the loveliest of hippie yogis, who perhaps aren’t the most grounded which is always a great reminder for me to relax a little — I can be far too grounded.”

All of that doesn’t mean yoga isn’t a great workout, though. When I asked Dallas about the physical benefits of yoga, he detailed the benefits of leaning the specific breathing technique and lengthening and strengthening muscles. But will it help you lose weight?

“A consistent yoga practice can help you find your body’s ideal weight and, more importantly, it teaches us to listen to our bodies. As I mentioned, yoga helps us to stay in present time, and when we can take that experience off the mat, be in tune with our emotions, we are less likely to over eat, binge and eat our emotions away.  We learn and appreciate that food is to nourish, fuel and sustain.”

Yoga is clearly much more of a lifestyle than many other forms of exercise — a ‘whole’ approach, not 50 minutes three times a week. I asked Dallas to tell me more about that.

“Yoga is a process of uncovering our true selves. Learning that we have everything we need within and that we are our own true teacher. Through the practice we release tension on a cellular level and in our musculature system. When we release this tension, we create space. This space allows us to tap into our vulnerability, become more responsive and less reactive, as a result we are more likely to be present to our experience, more loving, gentle and compassionate to those around us. Yoga asks big questions, like ‘Who am I?’ ‘What is my purpose?’ ‘How have I loved?’ ‘How will I be of service?’ It exposes our light and our dark areas, and it’s from this place of understanding, excavating that we can turn our judgement into acceptance and compassion, our fear into faith and let go of all of our stories that have defined.  We are more able to recognize that we are all one.  Through all of this, the practice, releasing tension, deepening our understanding that there is not separation, we will have more clarity and will develop the ability to trust our intuition.”

To close out our chat, I asked Dallas to tell me his best piece of fitness advice. “I came across this quote recently that really resonated with me and how I approach including fitness into my life daily. ‘Many things aren’t equal but everyone gets the same 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We make time for what we truly want.’ Most people say they can’t find the time, and I get it. I’ve stopped looking for the time and, instead, I make the time.”

Studio 330 is located at 330 Princess St. and offers classes seven days a week. For more information, or class schedules, visit www.studio330.ca

Molly Daley is a nutritionist and runs the healthy cooking, fitness and wellness website Diary of a Formerly Fat Girl. Find her at www.DiaryofaFormerlyFatGirl.com , or connect with her on Twitter, @DOAFFG.