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Finding My Niyama - a very personal journey

Posted on August 29 2019

First things first, thank you for taking the time to visit Niyama™ Yoga Wellness and for reading this post!

Niyama is the start of a new journey for me, and in line with the meaning of yoga, it is the “union” of two passions – natural health products and yoga practice. Looking back, it seems so natural and logical a step but at the beginning it was far from clear.

My Yoga Journey

I’ve loved yoga for 20 years.  When I first started yoga, I was working full-time in my very first career job (post-schooling and post-waiting tables and bartending) working for a vitamin company in a sales role.  My first yoga class felt like the missing piece in my life – I’d always hated the gym but knew I needed to exercise and thought I’d give yoga a try. I’d always been partial to natural as a lifestyle and yoga, though very fringe back then seemed to fit the curve I was on. 

But it was so much more than exercise – it was a way to move, tone, build strength and flexibility (and I was not flexible at all when I started!), all of which I enjoyed and expected, but for me, it was the emotional and mental benefits that really made me fall in love.  During a good ashtanga or hot yoga class my brain would actually slow down and focus – it wasn’t constantly multi-tasking or making lists or stressing me out with everything I still needed or wanted to do.  And after a class I was on a high for hours -what was not to love?  So I did lots –  four or five 90 minute classes a week religiously, after work and weekends for several years.

Losing balance 

Then I was fortunate enough to find my soulmate – and we started our life together, and soon after we were happily pregnant.  My hubs came as a value-pack with 3 bonus-kids, making weekends happily chaotic. I practiced vinyasa yoga steadily til 8 and a half months pregnant– by which point I was just too big.  I stayed home for 9 months with our daughter, then went back to work.  By then I was in a senior marketing role, still in vitamins, and absolutely loved my job.  But fitting yoga in with a big family and escalating work demands got harder, and I think as women we often put our self-care last.  So I went to yoga less often, way less, but still loved it when I went.  

Fast forward almost 10 years to some major job changes and the growing realization that I was giving far too much of myself to my work, with very little left for my family, friends and even myself.  It was totally unsustainable, and largely self-inflicted, and my health was paying the price. Yes, I admit it – I had become one of those crazy workaholics – I was even proud of it and wore my stress and work hours like a badge. I ignored all the signs my body was sending me - the anxiety, the unrelenting insomnia, until I hit a total wall.

New beginnings 

It was time for a major life change. With amazing support and understanding from my husband, children, extended family, and even my boss and work colleagues, I resigned my VP role and took a full year off.  A beautiful, wonderful, busy and eye-opening year. I spent time with my family at home and travelling. I cooked beautiful healthy meals ALL the time. I tackled some big renovation projects. I worked on myself. And I jumped back into yoga right away and it saved my sanity and restored my equilibrium. 

I did a 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training (at Downward Dog) which I loved every minute of, and then started teaching a couple classes a week in the Beaches where i live.  It was during the teacher training that the Niyama™ idea came to me, loosely at first but then it kept coming back.  Yoga Teacher Training was tough – being in my 40’s I was a good 15-20 years above the average age in my class of amazing and lovely yogis. It was mentally and emotionally enriching but physically very challenging.  After a long day of practice, I would climb into a bath with a melange of things I’d figured out over the years – arnica, magnesium salts, essential oils, and consume a healthy mixture of my own making – using natural supplements I’d worked with over the years that I knew would help replenish lost electrolytes, accelerate muscle recovery, reduce soreness the next day, reduce inflammation and support my joints, and set me up for a good night’s sleep. 

Because of my 20+ years working in vitamins and natural health products, and admittedly being a total geek, this knowledge was second nature to me and I was very grateful for it the next day! But I realized that it wasn’t common knowledge – and while there are so many amazing natural health products in Canada, there really wasn’t something that was designed specifically for people seeking ways to nourish and sustain an active, mindful lifestyle - to extend some of the benefits of yoga and other movement practices into the rest of our lives. It was a bit of a eureka moment. 

The wheels started turning, and I got excited about what this could be, and how it could help other yogis and non-yogis, and maybe, just maybe, be a viable business.  Because instead of having to comb through research online to find the right blend of nutrients and purchase everything separately, like i was doing, it would already exist exactly as it should be.

And then the path was in front of me and my new journey started.  2018 began with a flurry of research and planning and translating plans into action.  It wasn’t smooth – some days I wanted to give up and just go back to corporate.  Other days I was so happy I was almost manic.  But bringing this brand to life, with incredible support from my hubs, family, friends and the amazing specialist partners I have been privileged to work with has been so rewarding and provided so much learning. My heart is full – I’m excited, happy, scared, fully engaged, proud and so very grateful.

I really and truly hope that you will find Niyama™ Yoga Wellness beneficial for you and your practice. I hope our products make you feel at your best on and off your mat. Because that is why I created it – to share my knowledge and passion with like-minded yogis who want to create sustainable, healthy habits or Niyamas, if you will.

I’d love to hear any feedback you have – thank you and Namaste.

Jillian

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