I am going to be sharing over the next few weeks and months my journey from being a firefighter in Canada to becoming a yoga teacher and studio owner in New Zealand. I have always wanted to link with similar people but have found it hard to find a way to convey my message in a way that resonated with me. I am excited to share my journey with you all and share my stories, experiences, and the ways I use yoga and meditation to help me navigate through life in the past, present, and into the future.
It all started around 2008 and the birth of my daughter Violet. I was working as a career firefighter in Edmonton. At this time, I worked at Fire Station #3 in the Mckernan neighbourhood.
My family has deep roots in this neighbourhood. My father grew up only a few blocks away from this fire station. It was my grandparents first house that had interior plumbing. This is Canada in the 1950s, it can easily get to -40C.
Their church was on the other side of the field and I remember going to this church when I was young or whenever there was a family function. I also attended the University of Alberta, which adjoined the neighbourhood, and I finished a degree in honours history in 2001.
After I finished my schooling, I decided academia wasn’t for me and I put all my effort into becoming a firefighter. After I finished recruit training, I was stationed at Station #3. I had deep roots in the Mckernan area, and I was beyond excited when I found out this was going to be my first fire station. Life progressed and things seemed pretty normal for the next few years.
I can remember clearly when I decided I needed to do something else for my health and wellness. I spent my whole life playing sports and had an extensive background in weightlifting and high intensity workouts. My crew were fitness fanatics and we regularly did a workout when we first arrived at work (7am) and then another one at 3.30pm. We did these workouts in between our fire calls and other station duties.
One day, I was out inspecting the truck wheels, as this was part of my job for the day as the driver. There was a group of firefighters doing various jobs like checking the truck inventory and making sure the equipment was at 100% operating capacity. I went to stand up, and my knees were really sore, and I stood up slowly and let out some sort of long breath, murmur and a grunt. One of my older colleagues remarked, “if you think your knees are sore now, wait until you’re my age”. The firefighter was about the age I am now, early 40s.
That statement blew my mind.
I was in my late 20s, in the best shape of my life, and doing a job I absolutely loved. I could not, however, imagine being 40 and feeling even more sore. I thought, this can’t be right, I need to try something else.
So, being a problem solver, I started to look around at what else was out there to help me be fit and healthy. Coincidentally, my friend, Curt, who I regularly trained Brazilian Jiu-jitsu with, was training for a trip to Brazil. He had started to go to hot yoga classes with his partner to help prepare for the heat and humidity of Rio de Janeiro.
He said, “Tim you should try hot yoga, it’s so hard and sweaty”. To say I was sceptical was definitely an understatement. In my mind there was no way that yoga could be hard or sweaty. He said, “well if you don’t believe me, you should give it a try”. And so I had a look around and found a hot yoga studio that was offering classes right by my fire station. I took them up on their offer of unlimited classes for $40.
They had class times that fit with my shift work lifestyle and being a young father with two girls. Sonya, my wife, was supportive of me trying yoga so I took the plunge and showed up to my first yoga class. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, or how this first step would start me on a completely new path in life. There were 49 people in the room already and capacity was set at 50. I was the last one allowed to join the class and had to walk into the studio and try and find a place for me to put my mat. I was absolutely blown away that this many people were interested in doing yoga.
I will leave the story there and in part 2, I will tell you how my first yoga class went and how my journey started to evolve from there.
Until next time…
Read Yogafire Origins – Part 2 – My First Yoga Class.
Read Yogafire Origins – Part 3 – Firefighters Doing Yoga.
Read Yogafire Origins – Part 4 – The Odyssey Begins here.
Read Yogafire Origins – Part 5 – The Immigration Quagmire here.
Read Yogafire Origins – Part 6 – Almost Arrested and Other Obstacles here.