By Lakhram Bhagirat
Christina Basil or Dat Yoga Chick, as she is known to the wider Guyanese populace, recently opened the country’s first yoga shop in an effort to introduce more Guyanese to yoga. A certified yoga teacher, Christina is ecstatic to enhance the local yoga landscape.
The practice of yoga is documented in the Rigveda which is one of the oldest and most sacred books in human history, having been written 8-10 thousand years ago. With the benefits of yoga now being popularised, we see more and more persons becoming interested.
For just over 5 years now, Christina has been practicing yoga and the opening of her own shop is one of the accomplishments she treasures. Dat Yoga Shop is located at 39 Anira Street, Queenstown, Georgetown, and offers every equipment to support the practice of yoga.
Christina stocks a wide assortment of yoga mats, boosters, yoga balls and everything else she uses in her practice. Additionally, the shop also carries products from a lot of women-owned businesses.
Reflecting on how she got introduced to the world of yoga, Christina said that one of her mother’s friends was a student of yoga and she would often share photos on social media. That sparked Christina’s interest and while on a gap year from university in 2016, she decided to start giving it a shot.
“I just decided to start and that is how I started to practice yoga. It started just as a hobby about what poses I could do and so but shortly after it developed into something much more that I enjoy doing. So, for the first time when I started in 2016, I was solely self-taught. I did a lot of things incorrectly at first and so on. I would just look back at videos on Instagram and YouTube and do random poses. Slowly, I began correcting my posture and then I became very form focused. I started to fix a lot of things in my practice and would practice on my form. I really learned a lot from that,” she explained.
After she began improving form and started to realise yoga was more than a hobby for her, Christina was approached by persons for advice and tips but at that time teaching yoga was something she was yet to contemplate. She was living overseas for some time and when she returned home, persons began approaching her asking if she would hold classes. She gave it some thought and then started her set of classes. However, that was short-lived because she got into an accident and broke her leg. That meant she had limited mobility for at least five months and classes got cancelled.
“Right after I was able to get back on my feet, I was teaching again. Ever since I resumed teaching the class started to grow a lot bigger and everything. I would do one or two corporate sessions, persons started reaching out to me for private sessions and stuff from after I realised persons want me to teach and they see themselves progressing under my instruction. I started scoping out some yoga training classes but they were all super expensive. In 2019 I was able to find one that fits my budget and it was located in Colorado that was with the Bodhi Yoga Academy. So, I started saving aggressively for the training and in June 2019 I did my first formal training,” she said.
Christian is now a certified vinyasa and ashtanga yoga teacher.
Vinyasa is a style of yoga characterised by stringing postures together so that you move from one to another, seamlessly, using breath. Commonly referred to as “flow” yoga whereas ashtanga yoga follows a specific sequence of poses and is more form related.
“For me, vinyasa yoga mixes movement with breath. So involves a lot of using whatever flexibility and natural strength you have and linking those movements with breath. So you inhale into one pose and you exhale into another pose. Ashtanga yoga is the most traditional form of yoga and that originated all the way back in India many many many years ago. So what that follows is that it’s a specific sequence, all the primary series (of poses), and you follow the poses in that order for the yoga,” she said.
“So, like in my training, we used to do half of the primary series and that would go on for maybe 90 minutes because you have to hold the poses for a certain amount of time. Like this pose sometimes requires you to hold it for like five breaths, then you have a lot of vinyasas to go through in between. So when people say okay let’s take a vinyasa it’s actually a series of four poses that focuses on mostly strength and flexibility but mostly strength to have like that in between the primary series so that’s what makes it really long and really intense.”
Though being intense, Christina believes that yoga is for everyone regardless of what they think their physical ability or flexibility is. She said that her classes are tailored for every person depending on their ability.
“I tried to make my classes as accommodating as possible which is exactly what yoga is. It is super accommodating. Yoga has helped me with my physical fitness, because I’m not somebody who enjoys a gym. It definitely helped me with my confidence and trust in myself. Especially because since I became a teacher because if you don’t trust yourself, then it’s not wise for you to be teaching anybody else because if you’re not able to trust yourself then your student will not be able to trust you, I think it’s really helped me in those areas.”
Christine is also a new mother and she believes that yoga has helped in preparing her for motherhood. It taught her the patience she requires as well as it takes care of her mental health.
Her yoga classes are on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 5:15pm at the Georgetown Cricket Club. It costs $6000 per month. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Instagram at Dat Yoga Chick and WhatsApp on 655-7975.