Imagine breathing deeply while relaxing on a yoga mat and gazing up into a blue sky. You can hear birds singing and the leaves rustling in the breeze.
After this year’s abnormally long winter, it might be awhile yet before Vivian Babij is able to offer one of her yoga in the woods classes, but she’s looking forward to moving outdoors on her riverside property in La Salle.
"Being out in nature is so soothing," she said.
As well as teaching outdoor classes, Babij runs three weekly sessions inside her home’s sunroom, which offers a view of the many trees surrounding her home.
She also teaches weekly classes at Southdale and Archwood Community Centres in Winnipeg, and volunteers as an instructor at Victoria Hospital’s psychiatric ward.
Through observing her yoga students, some of whom have to exercise while seated in a chair, she is aware of how beneficial the practice can be for people of all ages and physical conditions.
Those with chronic health problems, back and hip troubles are able to move through modified versions of the yoga poses, she added.
With a master’s degree in food science, Babij was working for a research company about 11 years ago when a co-worker convinced her to join him in a weekend yoga workshop. She had always led an active lifestyle, but hadn’t tried yoga before.
"I fell in love with it that weekend," she said.
Since then, she became certified by the Manitoba Fitness Council and YogaFit International. She started teaching the Ashtanga yoga style in 2009.
While many popular athletic activities are competitive, Babij enjoys the non-judgmental, non-competitive nature of yoga, and believes it offers a healthy way to strengthen your body’s core and spine as well as rid muscles of toxins and increase blood flow.
In addition to teaching outdoor yoga classes, Babij spends time each spring, summer and fall cultivating her one-acre mandala garden, created in a circular shape, which contains a wide variety of vegetables, herbs and edible flowers.