101 Days, 101 Strangers, 101 Stories: Day 21

Tonight I decided to try out a yoga class for the first time ever. YYoga has a good deal for beginners to experience unlimited classes for 30 days. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while and I’m really glad I did.

The yoga instructor this evening had a noticeably calming presence and guided us through different positions with a certain grounding quality. Her patience and dedication were immediately apparent and inspiring. Her name is Ingrid and she gladly accepted my request to be my stranger of the day. I’m excited to tell you about her story.

Ingrid went to her very first yoga class as a joke. She wanted to see for herself what the hype surrounding yoga was all about. But she found her self becoming quickly drawn in. She kept going back to it. She has a desire to keep learning more.

She figured that the best way to learn would be to attend a yoga teacher training. Off to Hong Kong she went, learning new skills and strategies every step of the way. She wasn’t even intending to become a teacher, but it all kind of happened “serendipitously”, as she so eloquently put it. Now she has been teaching yoga for seven years.

Along her journey, she found herself in one of India’s ashrams — a kind of monastery that embraces simple and deliberate living. There, she found that things like clean water, hot water — the seemingly most basic of basics — were not easy to access. She became especially appreciative of what she has and how little she truly needs.

When she returned to Vancouver, she experienced what she described as a kind of “reverse culture shock”. She was almost “grossed out by the excess of our lifestyles here.” We use far more than we need and often have a skewed interpretation of necessity and wastefulness.

When she’s not busy with her full-time yoga career, she does some animation work. Specifically, she does voice animation. The very moment she told me this, I realized just how perfect she would be for the job. Her voice has unique, soothing, and melodious qualities to it. She says she gets that a lot, which is funny to her because when she was growing up, her voice was very high-pitched and people would almost make fun of her for it. We bonded over this, as I myself had the same problem when I was younger.

Then we talked a bit about empathy and compassion — topics she is planning to discuss during her next yoga class. She recommended that I watch this beautiful, important, and adorable animation featuring animals discussing empathy and what it means to be empathetic versus sympathetic. (Notably, Ingrid so excitedly pointed out that there’s even a bear without pants featured in the video! If that’s not incentive enough to watch it then I quite frankly am not sure what is. Bonus: it’s less than three minutes but I wish it were longer.)

Here’s the clip:

At the beginning of the yoga class this evening, Ingrid passed around two roses that she had cut freshly from her garden. It was a reminder, she explained, to both figuratively and literally take time to smell the flowers. At the end of my conversation with her, she gave me one of the roses to keep. Here’s a photo of us together with them:

photo (5) 2

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