For some, yoga is an instant love. For others, it takes trying it a few times to find the right fit. For Claire Matthews it was the latter, she was introduced to yoga in 2004 by a friend who convinced her to try a Bikram class. Bikram is a style of yoga practiced in a room heated to 40°C. She explains, “I felt like I wanted to throw up, I sat down for half of the class, and then at the end of the class we both got in the elevator and after what felt like 20 minutes we both looked at each other and asked did you press the button?” Despite that first experience, she started going to Ashtanga classes, a style she still teaches today. She explains that, “it is a very flowing practice, and once you understand the postures and are able to withdraw from the sensations, it can become a moving meditation.” What got her hooked was practicing the different postures started to heal her chronic neck pain, which she had been suffering from for years. She was inspired to want to learn more about yoga and healing which led her to teacher training almost immediately after her first Ashtanga class. She says, “teacher training literally changed my life in a thousand different ways” which is why she opens up her Teacher Training program at Yoga Truly to everyone and anyone regardless of experience.
Opening Yoga Truly has been a journey that Claire refers to as a natural evolution. When she completed her teacher training in 2006 she moved up north to Bobcaygeon where she taught a small group of women in the community room of the city hall. These classes became the town’s first exposure to yoga and actually implemented a yoga program into the parks and recreation department in Kawartha Lakes. By 2009, Claire was living in Grimsby and teaching 4 classes per week to a group of women out of her house with two babies at home (by now, most of you have probably met Gwen and Grace). She had a group of loyal clientele so when her friend and now partner Corbie Macys approached her to open a studio she says it just made sense. Claire explains that now she has to be careful to balance her business obligations with her passion of teaching yoga. The beauty of it is that yoga has given her the techniques and coping skills to do just that.
The best advice Claire has for all yoga students is to, “Come in and do your best. Your best can change from day to day, be okay with that, and give it a try. No matter where you are at your practice, you’re always a student. There’s always somewhere to go in a posture or in your practice. Be authentic, own your practice, and be okay with the flaws.”
Connection and acceptance are the greatest attributes you’ll get out of attending Claire’s classes and coming to the studio. She wants people to come in, feel safe, and enjoy a sense of community. She says, “I feel like we’re in a time that’s so busy and over stimulating. If we can get back to those moments that are simple, like, connecting with friends, or laughing when we fall out of postures, then I feel I’ve done something special.”
What does yoga mean to Claire? “No simple answer. It is everything. Which sounds like a cop-out but it really is how you think, how you connect, how you communicate with other people, how you physically and emotionally heal. The physical practice has given me a lot of strength and empowerment and the philosophy has made me reevaluate some things I don’t think I would have recognized were out of balance. And my practice has given me the skills to help put them back into balance. And it’s an evolution, there will be moments of off balance again and accepting that and being okay. So it really is everything.”
Join Claire for one of her Ashtanga, or Hatha classes. She also teaches Children’s Yoga, Prenatal Yoga, Mom and Baby, and Teacher Training. Drop-in or register online.