Yogatown and Canadian Sport Institute Ontario: A Community Partnership Story

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Since opening our doors in 2008, Yogatown has helped thousands of yogis to find their OM, both on and off the mat - and now we’re helping athletes find their OM - in their sport.

Yogatown is proud to be a community partner with the Canadian Sport Institute Ontario (CSIO).

The CSIO is committed to the pursuit of excellence by providing world-class programs, services, and leadership to high performance athletes and coaches to enhance their ability to achieve international podium performances. CSIO offers athletes a range of sport science and sport medicine services including nutrition, physiology, biomechanics, strength & conditioning, mental performance and sport therapy; as well as life services and assistance with transitioning into and out of sport. CSIO also delivers programming and services to National and Provincial Sport Organizations and coaches to work towards building a stronger sport system in Ontario.

With shared values such as health, belonging, and family, partnering with CSIO seemed like a natural fit for us. We take great pride in providing CSIO athletes with free access to Yogatown’s full class schedule.

Using yoga as a complement to their training, we now see CSIO athletes practicing at the studio regularly. It’s truly inspiring to see the level of dedication these athletes have to their sport and how they use yoga as a tool in their training for maintaining flexibility and creating a space where they can train without the pressure of competition.

National team canoe and kayak athlete Lois Betteridge is one of the CSIO athletes attending classes at Yogatown through this partnership. We asked Lois to share a little more about her yoga experience:

“I had a friend that encouraged me to go with them [to yoga]. Now, I’m way more comfortable sitting in my boat. I often choose Yoga for Runners or Hip-Opening classes to maintain flexibility in my lower body.

I love that it’s an hour in my day that I’m not being competitive - I really enjoy turning my brain off for yoga.” 

Liam Smedley is part of a two-brother canoe team (called Smedley Canoe) competing for Team Canada in whitewater canoe slalom. They paddle rivers and share travels, from a Pan Am Games silver medal to Rio 2016 and beyond. When he’s not traveling the globe training and competing, we get to see Liam quite regularly at the studio.

We asked Liam to open up about how he integrates yoga into his routine:

“When I first started it was definitely about stretching and mobility, all physical - simple as that. That’s changed dramatically for me today. Yoga means a time and space to practice grounding myself. It’s about practicing self-acceptance and taking a time in your day to simply flow through movement and be present without any requirement for productivity. Just taking a moment to live. It’s been really important in reminding myself that not everything needs to be productive, and that it’s important to find a moment to be present every single day - that’s living!”

What benefits do you notice from adding yoga into your Canoe Kayak training routine?

“For me [yoga] has been really helpful as a canoe kayak athlete in two ways: 

First is that it’s a second opportunity to practice setting a frame of mind. When I’m preparing for a race or trying to set a specific mindset in my training it requires a lot of mental effort that isn’t required in other parts of my life but yoga has given me the opportunity to practice that in a low stress environment.

The other way it’s helped is the breathing - this is another big piece of my pre-race preparation in canoe kayak and yoga has given me another space to practice how I breathe.”

What would you say to athletes wanting to give yoga a try but who are still feeling skeptical?

“It’s so worth it, being mindful everyday and sharing it through movement with others is really fulfilling so I definitely say go for it.”

Story and Photos: John Fritz for Yogatown

Photos Feature Canoe Kayak Athletes: Liam Smedley, Lois Betteridge, Ben Hayward, and Cameron Smedley


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