Lisa Babiuk didn’t even like yoga the first time she tried it. “It was too slow,” she says, “and I was really resistant to it.” The owner of Soul Fitness Mind Body Studios had already been teaching fitness and wellness classes for 20 years at that point. While her interest in fitness brought her to yoga, she didn’t really know what to make of it at first.
“People were breathing, and it sounded like Darth Vader, and I had no idea what that was,” she says laughing.
Needless to say, Babiuk has more than come around since then. And not only has she been certified as a yoga instructor for nine years, her studio, located in Campbell Business Park, will also be celebrating its eighth anniversary next spring.
The studio’s philosophy from the beginning, as Babiuk puts it, has been “to provide a place for people to come and get away from whatever’s going on outside this space.” To that end, Babiuk emphasizes something she realized early on—that yoga is an intricate thing, and an instructor needs very good training to keep on top of it all. It’s not just about knowing every pose—it’s also about paying close attention to the needs of students. As she’s discovered, even the little things matter when it comes to teaching, like arranging mats so that an instructor can see every student’s face, even in large classes.
“[Our] teachers are really good at what they do,” says Babiuk. “They’re not just teaching a class that hopefully everybody can keep up with. They’re addressing individual things that may come up.”
Good guidance also comes in handy because yoga is much more than just poses. The physical aspect is really just one stage of yoga practice—there are also spiritual, mental and ethical dimensions to it, and these are every bit as important. For Babiuk, part of a yoga instructor’s work is to remind students—even the advanced ones—not to focus too much on the physical part. “The physical is going to get you there,” she explains. “[But] there are other components that are [just as] necessary.”
Nevertheless, many people wanting to try yoga will probably start by taking a class in a gym, community center or even an instructor’s basement. And walking into an unfamiliar space for the first time as a newbie can be really intimidating. As Babiuk puts it, this is often the most challenging part of yoga for beginners.
“I remember walking in the door the first time I went to fitness class, I was scared to death,” she says. “Same thing when I went to my first yoga class.”
As a result, she makes a point of showing newcomers around and helping them feel welcome and preparing them a little for what’s in store. “You’re going to move your body in a different way that maybe you’re not used to,” she says. “It’s going to feel different, but it will come.”
So what’s ahead for Soul Fitness as they look ahead to the next eight years? Expanding the studio’s teacher-training program, maintaining high standards and strengthening yoga as an industry—for starters. The studio is also working with various community groups, such as schools and athletic organizations, to spread yoga practice even further. As more people check it out—and get over their initial doubts—yoga’s popularity in these parts is only going to grow. “It’s a fad that’s been around for 5,000 years,” Babiuk says. “It’s had an ebb and a flow… But it’s not going anywhere.” t8n
Location: #10, 20 Circle Drive, St. Albert AB, T8N 4L7
Owner: Lisa Babiuk
Programs: A variety of registered programs; yoga teacher training; reiki certification programs; acupuncture and reiki treatments
Interesting Fact: Soul Fitness offers two levels of yoga certification: 200 hours and 500 hours
“Sometimes we realize, ‘Okay, there is lots going on, but I do have this inner strength, I can manage what’s going on, I have the freedom to make change here. I don’t have to be stuck in this situation. And that’s the depth of where we reach in our studio.”
Yoga philosophy is largely based on the Yoga-sutras by Patanjali. Little is known about the author, who lived anywhere between the 2nd century BCE and the 5th century CE. He may even have been several scholars writing under the same name.