Bend Over Backwards Yoga: Yoga in the Iyengar Tradition is celebrating its 10th Anniversary on Saturday, Sept. 15 from noon to 4 p.m. at 135 Machleary St. in Nanaimo.

“We welcome everyone to this free event,” says studio owner-operator Kelly Murphy, who also teaches yoga at VIU for the Sport, Health, and Physical Education department.

Whether you are an experienced yoga student or a beginner, the Open House offers something for everyone. The schedule of events includes sessions on back, neck, and shoulder care and the use of props, slings, and ropes to assist learning and adjust yoga postures to individual needs.

There will be a demonstration of inverted postures and an introduction to restorative postures that enable the body and mind to relax and rejuvenate from the stresses of daily life. To complement the demonstrations of yoga asana, Murphy will introduce the ancient wisdom of yoga philosophy and pranayama. If that doesn’t entice you, chai tea and cookies will be served.

Denise Lowry, Murphy’s first Nanaimo student, was introduced to yoga about 14 years ago when Murphy offered lessons from her home.

“From the moment I started doing yoga on Kelly’s wooden living room floor, I knew it was right,” Lowry says.

“[Yoga is] a practice that encompasses my need for yoga, connection, community, spirituality, learning, and growing in a safe and beautiful surrounding. There is so much that can be said for what the studio represents, but what it comes down to is the people and the purpose, and it’s all right for me,” Lowry says.

What is “all right” for Lowry is equally right for her daughters Jessica and Sarah and husband Larry, who also attend yoga classes. Jessica speaks for her family when she says, “It is a special experience to take the time to practice yoga with your family.”

Lowry’s commitment to a longstanding yoga practice is not unlike Murphy’s, who began studying and practicing yoga in 1990. Murphy was hooked by the clarity of instruction, the rigour of the work, and the sense of contentment that remains and deepens over the decades.

“Iyengar Yoga is a very practical means of developing self-awareness, which in turn leads to a connection with something much greater than the self,” Murphy explains.

Murphy’s gift for teaching students of all ages and capabilities, and her commitment to mentoring teacher trainees, is well recognized. Gina Couchman has been taking classes with Murphy for over four years and is impressed by the reciprocity of “trust and respect” between students and teacher. Couchman asserts that she “would be a student of Kelly’s whatever she might be teaching.”

In addition to special workshops that are offered throughout the year, Bend Over Backwards offers a range of dynamic yoga classes to the Nanaimo community. Classes are taught by rigourously trained, certified, and experienced teachers. In Canada, a minimum of three years training is required for an introductory Iyengar teacher.

Introductory classes instruct in foundational poses and prepare students for inverted postures such as shoulder stand and headstand. Restorative classes serve to nourish the nervous system and balance the body and breath. A Cancer Recovery class is also offered.

In the spirit of giving back to the community, the first Friday of each month is a Peace Practice by donation, with the donations given to a community organization suggested by those attending. The studio opens its doors to students on alternate Sundays, during which they can use the space and props for their own practice.

For more information about the studio and its 10th Anniversary Open House celebration, please contact Kelly Murphy at 250-754-1924 or visit the studio’s website, <>

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