Quaint and scenic, the Town of Deep River was mentioned in the movie Mulholland Drive where Betty (played by Naomi Watts), the young actress struggling to cope in Hollywood says, "I just came here from Deep River, Ontario, and now I'm in this ... dream place. You can imagine how I feel." Located along the Ottawa River, the peaceful town is also where founder of Traveling Yoga Mat, Bonita Chan, resides. A city turned valley girl, Bonita has spent the majority of her life in Hong Kong and Toronto until an opportunity came up to move to the beautiful town.
We had the pleasure to speaking to Bonita who shares her journey to become a yoga instructor and more importantly, how she helps her students to shed layers of negativity to reconnect with one’s inner self.
Why did you pick yoga amongst other sports?
I turned to Yoga during a hectic juncture in my life. I was searching for something beyond my career and I knew that the commitment towards a Yoga Teacher Training Program would feed me: courage, clarity, and enlightenment that I was seeking.
When did you decide and how did you find your calling to become a yoga instructor?
In the midst of our relocation to Deep River, I saw the move as an opportunity to do something novel and courageous. I had a desire to create something from the heart. My vision for Travelling Yoga Mat was clear; I wanted to help feed others exactly what Yoga feeds me. It is about delivering a guiding light to you no matter where you are.
Being a graduate of psychology, how do you leverage your knowledge to enhance yoga teaching and experience?
Psychology and Yoga go hand in hand. It is about being aware of your inner being. Yoga is a powerful tool and I leverage my practices as a method of empowerment. Empowering each one of my students that we have all the power in the world to control how our body moves, what our mind thinks, and how our heart feels. As a graduate of psychology, I am always trying to find meaningful ways to support and facilitate transformation and personal growth in people. As such, I personally feel there is no method more rewarding than yoga. In my classes, you will find that I challenge my students not only physically, but also mentally. I encourage the connection and focused harmony of mind, body, and spirit, living our each present moment to its fullest as we discover ourselves on the mat.
My students are encouraged to cultivate self-discovery and self-love. Collectively, we step on our mats, as we turn inward, honoring our inner spirits. Discovering our own authentic movements by following the rhythm of our breath. Individually, we shed layers of expectations, ego, and judgments, as we each dive into the process of reuniting with our true selves, that's been waiting to emerge.
The peace achieved through yoga is a rich one. I strive to journey my students inward: quieting their voices of judgment in order to reunite with their freed, true selves, waiting to emerge.
What is your biggest gain of starting Traveling Mat Yoga?
One of the most rewarding things about my business is the ability to cultivate a sense of community and philanthropy. From hosting fundraisers to providing free community yoga programming; I am so fortunate to have the support of the community to stand by me in giving back. And this is just the beginning! I now have a group of incredible women that volunteer in furthering my not-for-profit projects.
What has starting your own business taught you?
Starting Traveling Mat Yoga has taught me that anything is possible if you believe in your mission and commit to it. I started this journey with no connections, experiences, or investments. I started my business in a new community; I did not know a single soul aside from my partner’s family members. I went from an empty Yoga room with no students to working with the municipality on a range of programming. Amazingly, Traveling Mat Yoga even connected me with a professional opportunity at a leading nuclear science and technology organization. Although Traveling Mat Yoga is only 10 months old, I am proud of what it represents- The possibilities are endless if you faithfully commit to your craft!
What does it take if someone is interested to get into this business?
Compassion, passion, and commitment are the three must haves:
- Compassion, to me, is number one in this business. The ability to relate is a huge component in guiding individuals in their Yoga and Mindfulness practice.
- Passion is essential to keep you motivated. If you are passionate about something, the aura of your passion will exude out of you, and that quality is powerful and hard to miss!
- You must be committed to your craft. Understand that consistency, competition, and hard work will help you succeed; because there will be challenging experiences in your journey and you must stay committed throughout for results.
What is your favorite healthy recipe?
Butternut Squash Pasta! A vegan recipe that is so satisfying!
Fried Chicken from Bar Fancy in Toronto!!!!!!
How do you see yourself in 5 years?
I see myself leveraging Traveling Mat Yoga as a philanthropic platform that gives back to the communities that it operates in.
What is the one quote that keeps you going?
“When in doubt, do the right thing”-by me
If you have not become a trainer, what would you be?
While I am a Communications and Marketing professional aside from being a Yoga Instructor, I also aspire to be a philanthropist! It is something that I strive to become and I am proud to say that I have begun my philanthropic journey with Traveling Mat Yoga.