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Community Feature: August 2018

Author: Matt Kowaldd

Release your self-imposed limits. Be grateful. This is the wisdom I have learned to live by. Let me explain…I have experienced some turbulence in my life. I was nine when my mother was murdered by my step dad, changing my life and support system forever. I initially moved in with my grandparents. As I got older, I was sent to a public boarding school and was surrounded by troubled youth. I became angrier and more confused with the world. My grandmother passed away, and I lost another person in my life. My grandmother’s passing hit a switch inside of me; the light in me disappeared, allowing darkness to enter. I gave up on life. I woke up in a hospital room the next day, and a veil of regret stuck on me like a wet blanket.

Moving forward my mind state shifted to a positive one as I began to understand and treasure the small things in life. I slowly discovered yoga, meditation, mindful movement, and how to forgive past grievances that I held on to. I discovered the power of gratitude and changing the “I have to” tasks into “I get to” tasks. This simple mind shift had a profound impact on my outlook, allowing in more light than I knew was possible.

In 2015, I booked a one-way ticket to Canada for university. Missing the heat of Australia, I jumped into a hot power yoga class at PYC St Catharines for the first time. The experience was incredible-I had practiced yoga before, but never in a hot room or with a dedicated community. The experience helped me find focus in my mind, my body and the present.

These moments on the mat translated my life. It encouraged me to write a letter to my step dad letting him know that I forgive him, allowing me to move on. To be gentler on myself, and take note of the small things. This is why I wanted to add a space to forgive something each day, to continue letting go of things that are easy to hold onto. The lessons I learnt from these obstacles have helped me grow so much. Remembering to breathe, to move, to love, to laugh, to smile, to forgive, to be compassionate, and to treasure the moments in everyday is what saved me.

Through the struggles I have experienced in my life, I was inspired to create The Yogi’s Journal a guided journal that combines elements that have helped me grow in my yoga practice. Taking those tools that I accumulated throughout my life, I wanted to create a written structure, as I often find it easy to forget to do the little things that have helped me and many others.

Bringing the idea into fruition I reached out to Laura (a friend and yoga teacher in England) and began bouncing ideas as we began to shape the idea. Then reaching out to Siqouia a graphic designer to add flare, and Jess to help spread the word. Through brainstorming and many talks we created a guide for ourselves and you to foster an explorative and healing practice.
The journal guides you through everything that has helped us on our journeys, and what we have learned from yoga, starting with guidance, ideas and inspirations into the eight-limbed path, gratitude, forgiveness, setting goals that resonate with you, creating morning rituals, and the yamas and niyamas.

At the beginning of each week you can set your focus, steps towards your goal, and ideas on how you are going to incorporate the yama or niyama into your week. A friendly challenge, and some asana, meditation, and pranayama inspiration.
Each day there’s a structured page where we can start the day with gratitude, set an intention and write down three tasks the we get to do today! There’s a space for affirmations, reflection on your practice, to forgive, and a spot to write down the moment that you can treasure.

Ending the week we gave ourselves some space to reflect, including how you moved towards your goals, how the yama or niyama affected you, what challenged you, what enriched you, and how present you were.