Skye Langlois is the studio manager of Modo Yoga in Nanaimo. Modo Yoga has two locations: one on Dufferin Crescent, and the other on Rutherford Road. Langlois has been a yoga teacher since 2015.
“What drew me to yoga was initially vanity. I wanted to be someone else. I wanted to be skinnier. I wanted to look healthier. I wanted to seem fit to others who I saw took such good care of themselves. And I wanted to be like the girls I saw around town, walking along the streets with a yoga mat in-hand and a bounce in their step. But what kept me coming back to yoga was the introspection. Connecting to my body rather than trying to fight my body. I continued coming because I wanted to re-experience the euphoria of Savasana again and again. And because instead of trying to fake a new persona and perspective, I slowly started to truly discover who I was by spending silent time with myself.”
Langlois speaks about the community aspect of yoga. She explains how it’s a way to connect and socialize without having to talk and that “it’s so freakin’ refreshing.” That is during class, anyway. Modo has events where people do socialize using their words and they connect with others in the yoga community. They might meet new faces, or actually introduce themselves for the first time to someone they’ve seen in class a number of times. “It adds so much to my life by being around people who give a damn about their health, other’s health, and the planet’s health. And that’s contagious as hell.”
Langlois started at Modo with the ambassador program. She tells me, “The ambassador program is an energy exchange program. We know that yoga can be expensive, so Modo has created a program that for four hours of karma work a week to help out at the studio … in exchange ambassadors can receive free unlimited yoga at both locations.” “Karma work” is basically doing laundry, cleaning, and supporting the teachers after classes.
“I worked my way up to studio manager the same way I’ve worked my way up to management in all my jobs: by going all in. I show up to everything, whether its work-related or social.” It’s obvious that Langlois is genuinely invested in people. She knows almost everyone by name as they check in for a class. “My motto has always been ‘The answer is yes. What’s the question?’”
Modo goes far beyond Nanaimo, there are 25 studios across Canada and over 70 worldwide. The Nanaimo studio was opened 12 years ago by Kristy Butler and her partner. Their first studio could hold 12 students and has grown to two locations that can each hold nearly 30 students.
“Yoga is expensive. It is definitely considered a luxury. Once you’re in the back end of things you can see why since there’s a lot of money that goes into it: rent, insurance, hydro, cleaning supplies, wages. Hosting ten classes a day barely covers those things. So that is why we understand that people who come to the studio are really investing in the experience since $100/month or $17 a class is pricey.”
It’s important to Langlois and Butler that yoga is accessible. The studio offers three discounted classes a week that are labelled “community” or “karma.” This is also where the ambassador program comes in, because it acts as an “energy exchange.” Ambassadors are invested in the studios running smoothly, having clean towels and mats available, clean floors, etc., because they attend classes and want a clean space to practice in. “The karma classes are our way of giving back to the community since all proceeds goes to local Nanaimo charities. But we also have to be careful as a business not to undervalue our offerings which is a very thorough, skilled yoga class.”
People may have an aversion to yoga because it seems religious or that it will require too much of them. “Let’s change the negative association and narrative of people who believe in a higher power or energy or humanity or religion. I can’t debunk people’s outlook on yoga because its practices are way deeper than just physical movement. It is super spiritual. You do start to realize and connect to yourself, the truest sense of self, the listener behind the thoughts and the see-er behind the eyes. You feel more connected to nature, to energy, to strangers. You notice less physicality and more energy and it’s all very powerful because we live in such a mind numbing, over stimulated world that takes us away from these deeper connections…My only advice for people is to not choose fear.”
Beyond strength, flexibility, and cardio, practicing yoga can affect every area of life in a positive and healing way. Langlois lists just a few that come to mind: “Self discovery, self love, introspection, learning to slow down, mindfulness, stronger presence, health awareness, harm-reduction, self-care, learning to listen better, to accept easier, to let go of what doesn’t serve you, that you have the power to change what isn’t working in your life but learning to make peace with what it is that you cannot change.”