Yoga To Be Kidding!

I don’t know about you, maybe you jog 3km a day, and regularly bench your weight, but I personally have not exercised enough during the pandemic. Oh sure, it started out well enough with the intention to “work out, eat right and read more” but it fizzled over time. Life just got crazy. You were there too, I’m sure you know what I mean.

But more and more these days, I find myself  needing to get out, to explore, to find new experiences and maybe – just maybe – get some exercise. This week, I found yoga, and if you’re thinking, “I cannot do yoga, so why would I read this?” you’d be just as wrong as I was!

Joyce Lively

Joyce Lively (Source: Facebook)

My instructor was Joyce Lively, who teaches at Beginnings Yoga Studio in Sydney and has recently launched her own business, Be Lively Yoga & Wellness. Lively, who recently retired after 33 years as a teacher and principal, immediately put me at ease, which is great if any of you is (as I was) trepidatious about trying yoga.

The class itself was not what I’d expected. First of all, there were no mats involved. We actually used chairs — that we sat in! We began with some breathing and were encouraged to be in the moment, to allow ourselves to be aware of how we sat, to focus on our breath. Then we added some simple stretches, moving our arms and legs a bit, just to get the blood moving. From there, we moved on to lifting a simple block that weighed almost nothing yet seemed to add to the exercise quite a bit. Finally, we progressed to stretch bands to loosen up muscles before ending — as we began — with some guided meditation and breathing.

After class, I was curious about Lively’s own “yoga journey” and she was kind enough to take the time to talk to me.



How did you first get introduced to yoga?

Well I knew that I was going to have surgery in June of one year, 2013, and I was overweight. I wasn’t very fit. So I went to a beginner’s yoga class at the Y, thinking that it would be something that I could ease my way into…but I did like it! It was exactly what I needed because it was connected to breath and it was something that I could start to work on gradually.

The instructor was so welcoming and just made it clear that whatever is happening on your mat is your business. You don’t compare yourself to the people around you. You’re on your own personal journey. So I stuck with those beginner lessons, then had my surgery, and I feel that I  bounced back better from the surgery because of yoga.

Children doing yoga.

Photo submitted by Joyce Lively

Why have you continued with it for so many years?

The following year there was a conference in Halifax, “Yoga for Teachers,” and I was an elementary school principal. I was just looking for some professional development, so I went to that. It counted as my teacher training for yoga and I thought, “I’d like to bring this to my school, to the children.” I [had] hired Instructors to come before I [finished] my training, and then when I had my training I was able to do it with them. We had a really good connection because of that, myself with the students.

What is it that interests you most about yoga?

I stayed with it, Don, personally because it made a real difference in my mental wellbeing. My overall health was one thing, the physical aspects, but I stayed with it because of what it did for me mentally. It calmed me down. It helped me to be more responsive, rather than reactive.
The change that came over me mentally, I guess. And then, a bit more spiritually, I was able to reflect on my own practice, my own habits, my own patterns and things. So I  was able to change some things in my life and I feel that I have a better lifestyle because of it.

Why should even people who do not have a lot of mobility, or who think they can’t do yoga, try a class and begin to practice it?

I decided one year to go to India and study for a month. I realized that I wanted to get people involved in yoga who felt intimidated by studios or maybe felt that they were too old to start, or too injured to start. When I went to India I studied yoga therapy for people with injuries or chronic health conditions. That was my specialty…to come back and help them through yoga.


Her new business focuses on health and wellness in addition to the physical practice, to create a more holistic approach.

Lively, who has completed 500 hours of registered yoga training (RYT), says she can teach anyone and especially enjoys teaching yoga to people of the opinion that enjoying a class is an impossible feat:

“I have taught yoga to children from the age of four to adults up to 81.. I’ve taught it to people in wheelchairs or with cognitive problems, I’ve even taught it to athletes. So it really doesn’t matter. You start where you are and you move on from there.”

Featured image: Teacher training, Shiva Tattva Yoga School, India, photo by Shivatattvayoga, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Donald Clarke

A “military brat,” Don Clarke finally put down roots in Dominion, Cape Breton. A graduate of CBU (Communication) and NSCC (Business Administration), he has been active in the local theatrical community for years, having performed and directed at the Boardmore Playhouse and Two Hoots Productions. He has worked in film and television, directed a Canadian Short Film and published poetry in Caper’s Aweigh, and The Caper Times, where he also served as editor.