Daylight savings is over, which means the sun is setting closer to lunch than dinner in the Pacific North West, and I’m constantly pulling myself out of daydreams of those long summer days. Of course, I have no room to complain being in Vancouver, which is arguably the most beautiful city in the world. But, during these damp, chilly days I can’t help but drift back to those consistently incredible bluebird days of summer.
One such day this year, I popped into one of Lululemon’s free, outdoor “Nooner Yoga” sessions with a pal who works for the company. Getting my yoga on in Coal Harbour while watching seaplanes land in front of the North Shore Mountains, set to throwback ‘90s R&B hits? Now, that’s my jam.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that class was being lead by none other than my old friend, Miss Alex Mazerolle. Alex, a Lululemon ambassador whose love for movement and positive vibes is infectious, epitomizes what it means to be a Broad.
With an extensive background in the competitive dance world, Alex stepped into her first yoga class at the age of twenty-one with, as she describes it, a “broken body.” Years of pushing herself in the dance studio to jump higher, plié deeper and focus on the results had taken a toll on her. Through yoga she discovered how little she had been listening to the feedback she was receiving from within herself –physically and mentally. She explained to me, “As a thirteen-year-old girl we think the pressure is normal and our feelings of doubt will go away when we turn twenty – we’ll just grow up and get it.” But she knows first hand it doesn’t work like that, “I had a lot of undoing to do, because we hold onto a lot of that behavior.” (Check out a more detailed version of Alex’s journey from the barre to mat here.)
Through her journey of undoing, she felt compelled to bring her newfound insight to girls at an impressionable age before the damage had been done, and so, Girlvana was born. Starting by teaching this age group at high schools and dance studios, Alex expanded into hosting full-blown yoga retreats, where girls are given absolute permission to be themselves. Her latest endeavour has brought a roof for Girlvana with her own studio, Distrikt in North Vancouver.
“These girls have a hunger for self discovery and no one is really giving them the tools,” explains Alex. “We’re just trying to help them raise a consciousness.” Girlvana yoga retreats do base themselves around the practice, but they are also a chance for girls to journal, set intentions for their day-to-day lives, and of course, let a little loose with moments of dance parties and other typical activities kids would experience at camp.
The hard work has been undeniable, but for Alex, the payback is invaluable. “Working with the girls has made me more accountable for my actions. For them to trust you, you have to be really open and raw.” The payback doesn’t just come in self-reflection, though. Engaging with girls and seeing them transform is the biggest payback she sees – whether it’s an anxious girl becoming more calm or sleeping better, or watching another girl become more tuned in and accepting to her own body.
What you give out into this world comes back to you tenfold, and Alex embodies that notion.
Give them a follow on Instagram @girlvanayoga or @thedistrikt
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