Finding healthy ways to cope with life's many ups and downs can be difficult, so you just need to find what's right for you. And for Montreal yoga instructor and entrepreneur Brandon Dawson-Jarvis, it's practicing mindfulness and yoga that have helped him get through tough times.
If you're curious about what yoga can do for you, his company, Grove Campus, is hosting a 9-day virtual yoga journey that's completely free and is happening from November 18 to 26, which you can register for here.
It begins at 7 p.m. every evening and the Zoom class has a maximum of 100 attendees, so make sure to join in on time to secure your spot!
During the sessions, you'll be able to learn about the neuroscience of yoga and the benefits that come with practicing it.
We asked Brandon a few questions about himself, Grove Campus, and how yoga can help be beneficial while living through hard times like a pandemic.
Answers have been edited and condensed for clarity.
Can you tell me all there is to know about Grove Campus?
Let's begin from the moment I realized that I had been extremely toxic to myself and those around me. I was in prison for the second time after breaching parole for a road incident that amounted to nothing. [...]
Shame and guilt consumed my mind and body to the point where I had trouble getting out of bed because I was so depressed. After about a year, my partner suggested that I try yoga. [...]
After two classes everything changed. My mental health issues faded and I set out to share the benefits of yoga with anyone who wasn't aware of them. [...]
The two main components to Grove Campus and what I believe sets us apart from others is not necessarily the yoga but that our practice does not end once we leave our mats. What sets us apart is that you are supporting a complete stranger. There is something very powerful behind that.
In efforts to maintain our classes donation-based, we just released our first product, a cork yoga mat. This mat is made from organic cork and natural rubber, its eco-friendly, plant-based, non-toxic, recyclable and 10% of profit go towards our events and initiatives in supporting underserved families.
Thus far we have been able to support about 600 people with food, toys, school supplies and drugs and alcohol rehabilitation.
How do you think yoga can benefit people during a difficult time like the pandemic?
I think this is an opportunity to slow down and check in on how we've been thinking, feeling and doing. However, this can give rise to the "monkey mind" where our minds have the ability to run rampant and at times seem out of control. I know from first-hand experience that this can be really uncomfortable, maybe even painful but nevertheless, it is necessary to acknowledge what is there.
Yoga can offer the tools necessary to cope with the experiences that we find difficult to face. It can be a beautiful reminder of our resiliency and our ability to overcome difficulties and heal.
This pandemic can be a waste of time or it can be a chance for self-study. When else will we have the time to invest in ourselves?
What positive aspects has yoga brought to your life?
The list of positive aspects for me has been acknowledging the power of my thoughts and understanding that they carry consequences, "good" and "bad."
Another positive aspect is yoga has allowed me to move further from the pole of victimhood, which is where I spent most of my days to understand that I am the creator of my reality and accepting responsibility for what goes on in my life.
I'm also able to do some pretty cool things with my body.