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This article was published 16/10/2017 (759 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
In 1979, Jana Svenda was first introduced to the sun salutation — a yoga routine that not only opened up her chest, but a lifetime of opportunity and learning.
Svenda, a River Heights business owner, is celebrating 20 years of yoga instruction at her studio, Yoga on Corydon (1115 Corydon Ave.), this year.
After moving to Canada from Czechoslovakia in 1986 — just years before the fall of the Iron Curtain — and studying yoga abroad, Svenda decided to open a studio with her husband in 1998 to share their mutual passion for yoga with others.
"I actually never wanted it to be a business. In my mind it was a service to humankind or a community," Svenda said. "I wanted to open a studio to keep up my personal practise and to share it with other people.
"It happened to be at the time when yoga became very popular," she continued. "It was unbelievable how people wanted to come, so it kind of took over my life."
Since she opened her doors to the public, Svenda estimates she’s taught about 12,000 classes, not counting numerous workshops, charity events, and demonstrations throughout her years in Winnipeg.
With hundreds of postures, flows, and practises in her repertoire, Svenda said her passion for yoga continues to strengthen with each movement.
"What I liked about yoga is that it doesn’t look at a person just as a body," she said. "When you have other forms of exercise you exercise your muscles, but yoga looks at the whole person and that’s what drew me to yoga.
"I found it so centering and deep," Svenda said.
It was also the spiritual and meditative aspect of yoga that solidified Svenda’s decades-long dedication to the practice. As a youth living under a Soviet regime, Svenda said anything related to spirituality was forced underground.
"When you are growing in the communist society, you are missing that. It’s like there is a window that you can never open, so once you open it, it’s like a new world. That’s how I felt," she said.
Diane Froese, a certified yoga therapist who has taught at Yoga on Corydon for four years, said it is Svenda’s "presence" that has caused her and others to return year after year.
"When I came here, I think I could feel the difference in the class and I was drawn into it," she said. "When I started working with Jana that’s when I started my practice in earnest.
"It was Jana and her teaching that just clicked for me so much — that was the draw that kept me coming back."
For Svenda, teaching is about helping her students find what they’re searching for in their practise, and often the exchange is reciprocal.
"There are different reasons why people practise yoga, and they come here wanting to do something for themselves. My goal as a yoga instructor is to provide (clients) what they are looking for and show them all the aspects of yoga for them to choose," Svenda said.
"People find you," she added. "You offer something, you inspire people in a certain way, and I can be much more myself than when I started because I’m surrounded by people who understand."
Yoga on Corydon will be running a series of workshops to celebrate its anniversary. For more information go to yogaoncorydon.ca
Danielle Da Silva
Community journalist — The Sou'wester
Danielle Da Silva is the community journalist for The Sou'wester. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org