– Above: Submitted Photo
by Stephen Dafoe
Three months after opening her studio in downtown Morinville, yoga instructor and business owner Stacey Bonik has seen a steady stream of people through her studio doors.
My Strength Wellness Studio opened June 25 after Bonik, and her husband spent seven months looking for an appropriate spot to open the business.
When the oil and gas industry took a hit and the economy entered a downturn, Bonik took advantage of the opportunity to move on from an industry she’d been in for 12 years to do something completely different – open her yoga studio.
“I’d been teaching in Legal doing their fall, winter, and spring program,” she said. “I just decided this is what I wanted to share with the community and build for the community to deal with some of the stresses. We need this [yoga] now more than ever because of the epidemic [anxiety issues].
Bonik’s studio motto is, “Rise up to your inner strength within your heart, soul and spirit.” They are not merely words of inspiration – it is a reflection of what yoga has done for Bonik over the past half decade.
Bonik said she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis five years ago at the age of 25 and that yoga has been a life-changing experience for her. After receiving a full diagnosis from a neurologist, Bonik spent a year taking new medications by injection. It was during that period that she discovered yoga.
“I was going twice a week. I was feeling better and feeling like I could really have a little bit of peace, a little bit of stillness in the business,” she said. “It also helped me cope with the diagnosis – being that young. It was quite the shocker for myself and my family.”
A year into taking the pharmaceutical injections, Bonik decided it was not the way she wanted to live as the medication made her feel ill and caused her to miss a lot of work.
“I decided to make some changes,” she said. “I looked at my career, stress, and workload and changed my diet. I started exercising more and yoga was that [exercise]. Yoga saved my life. Yoga gave me that focus point to listen to my body because, at 25, I was pushing myself pretty hard and putting 138000 kilometres on my vehicle working until 11 o’clock at night on long days away from my family. My body had crashed. That was my wake-up call.”
Though there are days she feels fatigued, Bonik said she’s not planning to go back for another MRI.
Yoga is for everyone
Bonik believes yoga is something everyone should fit into their routine, if for no other reason than to help people relax a bit from a stressful world.
“The art of relaxing is lost in all of us as well as our kids,” she said.
“Nobody knows how to stop and smell the roses anymore, and that’s where yoga brings in that time for them [participants] to listen to themselves.”
She cites the many times when newcomers hit the mat for the first time and take a few breaths. They suddenly realize how tired or sore the body is.
Three months into the new venture, Bonik is seeing many people through her studio door that have never tried yoga before as well as people that have been doing yoga for five to 10 years.
“People are excited there is a studio in their backyard,” she said, adding some newcomers just want to try it though there is still a little bit of hesitation around what yoga is and uncertainty if people are flexible or strong enough. “It’s the knowledge getting out to the community.”
Last month the studio kicked off some new programs, including chair yoga and children’s yoga, the latter broken up into classes for 5-9 and 10-14.
My Strength Wellness Studio offers 30 classes a week with options for morning, afternoon or evening as well as weekend opportunities and workshops.
“This is the perfect opportunity and if not today when?” she said of those contemplating giving yoga a try. “Yoga is for everybody. If you can lay on the mat and breath, you are doing more for your body than watching TV or having a glass of wine or having a bath. Yoga isn’t just about headstands and downward dog. It’s really [involves] taking the time and then integrating that into outside these walls in the hustle and bustle and non-stop stimulation we are all caught up in.”
For more information on the studio or yoga, in general, visit their website at www.mystrengthwellness.com.