Trista Johnston went through a full training program to become a Bikram yoga teacher in Calgary, but she says the highlight of her education in the field has been her life experiences.
Johnston says yoga helps her feel connected and grounded, and that has allowed her to handle anything life throws her way.
Bikram yoga is a heated practice created by Bikram Choudhury. The purpose of this style is to detoxify the body and mind, leaving participants feeling revitalized and renewed.
Because Bikram yoga has the ability to bring a lot of emotions to the surface, it can be a very powerful practice.
“It came to me at a time where I really needed it; it saved my life.” she recalls.
Johnston is not the only one who has had a remarkable experience with yoga. Her previous mentor Josh Biro recalls being impacted in a similar way.
“It’s something that affects you on all levels,” Biro admits while discussing the benefits of Bikram yoga. “There is this massive mental effect when you are connected with yourself and as a regular practice; it really amplifies the true nature of you and your strength.”
Johnston was hooked after she decided to go every day for 30 days, regardless of her mental state that day. By the end of the month, she had felt like a brand new person.
Due to her life-changing experience, she felt a loyalty to teach the practice and help others feel similar benefits.
One of her students, Joanne Beraska, is confident that yoga has played an active role in improving her mental and physical health. She believes that this practice has inspired her to live a healthier and more gentle lifestyle.
“It helped me do a 360 to look at myself and what I was doing to my body,” Beraska states. “I am about being kinder to myself; it has changed my attitude, life, and thinking.”
Although yoga is commonly done in a collective space, it is done individually.
“It is like a symphony, where all the instruments are working together in order to create something beautiful,” Johnston says. “You will hear if one instrument is off, so the cohesion in the space creates something beautiful even though it is a solo practice.”
“It makes me feel like I am connected to something bigger than myself,” Johnston adds.
She began the practice eight years ago, and hasn’t looked back since.
“I don’t know who I would be, or where I would be without it.” she states confidently.
One of her most memorable learning opportunities was when she traveled to India to learn more about a variety of yoga practices. In comparison to Canada, she says that India has little structure or organization in society. This lifestyle has taught her the importance of staying grounded in a chaotic environment, which is a similar concept taught within Bikram yoga.
As a teacher, the most fulfilling thing is watching students go past their own limitations not only during a class, but in everyday life as well. She believes that it is a rewarding career, as she gets the opportunity to watch individuals grow into the best version of themselves.
In addition to yoga, Johnston is passionate about holistic nutrition, herbalism and meditation.
Johnston advises people to give the practice a chance, as she is confident there will be positive benefits to the mind, body and soul. She believes that the cleansing process will bring people to life, allowing one to see what they are truly capable of.
- By Eliza Balkwill