I’m so happy that Dawn from Passport to Prana reached out to me and got me connected to the yoga community here in Montreal. Getting back to my practice feels so right during this time of transition. And, in it all, I’ve gotten a chance to meet quite the inspirational lady!
Today, Dawn shares her story with us – how she broke out of the mold to define a life that supported her desire to share, create and live a life of love.
Take it away, Dawn!
Greetings Healthful Pursuitors! My name is Dawn and you can find me over at Yoga with Dawn Mauricio. Despite the title of my website, I don’t consider myself only a yoga teacher. Over the years, my journey towards personal growth has evolved into an overall vision to share, connect, and create community, allowing me to add ambassador, lifestyle purveyor and social media marketer to the list of what I do and how I share.
In my childhood I was a very active tomboy, hopping fences, playing sports with the neighborhood boys, and running after my brothers and their friends. As it turns out, it was a training of sorts as it eventually led me to compete in various sports at the collegiate level. In 2000, when I was in university working on a Bachelor’s Degree of Commerce in Marketing, I started practicing yoga to help me cope with the endless projects, presentations, and group meetings.
After finishing university, I did what I thought I was “supposed” to do, I began working in my field of study, particularly Public Relations. For an entire year, I had a very full schedule, yet a very empty feeling. I began to yearn for more purpose, and I missed challenging my mind and body as I did in my athletic days. I left my PR job and simultaneously, an unhealthy relationship came to an end. Heartbroken and confused, the only solace I found was when I was practicing yoga. After several months of regular practice, things inside me began to move. I felt vulnerable after hip openers, sensitive after back bends, and confident after inversions. I didn’t know it then but I was experiencing firsthand a deeper mind-body connection. I was hooked and excited to see what else would come up. Later that year I set off to backpack alone through Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia and the Philippines for four months. I ended my travels with my first meditation retreat on a Thai monastery. Although challenging, it was a life-changing experience. It taught me how to slow down and listen.
Upon my return, I did what I thought I was “supposed” to do (again) – I returned to PR. When I interviewed and got offered a PR job for a big Montreal festival, I cried. Not out of happiness but out of sadness. Before telling the woman who hired me that I no longer wanted the job she offered me earlier that day, I sat on my meditation cushion. I vowed not get up until I found an answer to my (desperate) question What do I do? After 40 minutes of brushing aside excuses and stories like “What would everyone think?” and “What will I do for money?” the only clear answer that came up was “NOT Marketing.” I trusted the answer enough to decline the job and returned to being a hair salon receptionist. Unbeknownst to me at that point, I had broken the pattern.
From that moment on, yoga chose me. I met my first yoga teachers at the hair salon, and completed their Hatha yoga teacher training in July 2006. The following month, the owner of a yoga studio at which I was volunteering needed a last minute sub and asked me to fill in. It was possibly my worst class ever, yet it went well enough for her to offer me two weekly classes the following season, and six weekly classes the season after that. I went on to teach at different studios and within a year of being certified as a yoga teacher, I was teaching full-time. Since then, six years later, I have completed over 1,000 hours of trainings, taught at eight studios and over a dozen companies around Montreal, continue to sit regular meditation retreats, and am brand ambassador for Crudessence, Rise Kombucha, Lolë, and Cocos Pure.
Feeling inspired and grateful, I wanted to share all that yoga has given me with as many people as possible, and not just through my teaching. As such, I have been involved in a number of yoga related initiatives, all which aim to broaden yoga’s reach. In 2007, I began organizing annual 108 sun salutation fundraisers to bring together and benefit the community. The events were taught by nine teachers from different traditions of yoga, and all funds raised were donated to a different Montreal charity each year. After five years and raising close to $25,000, I teamed up with two people who share the values of community collaboration with me, and we turned the annual fundraiser into a non-profit organization called the Yoga Mala Foundation (YMF).
At the YMF, we raise funds through community yoga events and give grants to yoga teachers to start yoga programs in areas of need. More recently, in my quest to provide additional opportunities to spread the benefits of yoga to a growing community of practitioners, I took over Passport to Prana Montreal, a program that empowers students to find a studio, style or teacher that suits them best.
As it turns out, things have come full circle with my passions of yoga, community collaboration, health and wellness, and my Marketing degree. Having started in PR, then moving on to yoga teacher, ambassador and lifestyle purveyor, I now combine my love for all these things to help share the philosophy and benefits of a healthy lifestyle. In addition to teaching yoga, Passport to Prana, and the Yoga Mala Foundation, I also create and implement online and social media marketing strategies for like-minded health and wellness businesses.
In hindsight, had I conformed to “what I was supposed to do” I would likely be much less happy, and consequently much less healthy. The biggest lessons I learned from my journey, and continue to come back to daily, include slowing down and listening to my heart, following my passions, and doing what I love. I believe that if you choose from your heart everything will work out, and even flourish. As Rollo May once said, “The opposite of courage is not cowardice, it is conformity.”
What are you waiting for?