I met Jamie Kalynuik, Founder and Director of Toronto Yoga Mamas (TYM) last summer when I attended TYM’s smoothie bowl + yoga workshop with Genuine Health. The moment I walked into the TYM yoga studio, I fell in love…and I’m not even a mama – nor am I an expecting mama.
Toronto Yoga Mamas is a yoga and wellness studio primarily for pre-and post-natal mamas, but it’s a space that welcomes all women. I love everything that TYM stands for and does to support women, it truly is beautiful.
Before the new year I sat down with Jamie to discuss her business journey and what she does to stay stress-free and balanced while running TYM.
Megan: When did you start Toronto Yoga Mamas (TYM)? When did you open?
Jamie: The studio opened in the summer of 2012, which means we will be celebrating our 6th birthday this year, I can’t believe it!
What was your inspiration behind TYM?
I love yoga and I love business, and coming from a family of entrepreneurs I always knew I wanted to run my own business. Growing up and stepping onto my mat for the first time I remember thinking, ‘wow imagine if I could open a yoga studio?’. I had no idea that many years later I would end up founding and owning a pre and postnatal yoga studio.
When I was 30 I went on a volunteer mission with a yoga group to Africa where we worked at a birthing centre in Uganda, teaching yoga to expecting moms. I came home from that trip inspired in different ways and decided to go down the path of becoming a prenatal yoga teacher.I completed that training and fell in love with the birth world – I started teaching prenatal yoga immediately and also became a birth doula. After teaching for a while I saw there was a need in Toronto for yoga specifically for mamas. There weren’t many studios offering it…and if they were, they were at really off-times. So, I thought, what if I could create a space that was just focused on pregnancy in Toronto? I ended up working with my friend and owner of Blooma in Minneapolis – the studio I did my prenatal yoga training with – to guide me on starting up a studio here.
Do you still teach yoga classes?
I’m not on the schedule regularly, but I love jumping in if there’s a need for a last-minute sub. I also lead the Yoga Mamas Postnatal Yoga Teacher Training program at our studio so around the times we hold our trainings I will prepare by teaching some baby yoga classes. I love being on the mat with the mamas and babes.
Were you ever a practicing doula?
Yes and I loved it. I was able to support 20 mamas and witness 20 babies being welcomed into this world. I was a birth doula for two years and it was an amazing experience. Each birth was very different and I learned so much. I decided to retire from being an active doula because the workload of the studio was just too great to balance with the life of being a doula. When I decided to retire as a doula I opened up a doula program at Toronto Yoga Mamas because I was still receiving a lot of doula support requests. So, I partnered with a handful of amazing doulas who I had worked with and developed a collective of doulas at Yoga Mamas.
I love how supporting TYM is for women. And not just for mothers. As someone who isn’t pregnant or isn’t a mother, it’s just such a nice environment for women.
Oh thank you! That is so nice to hear. Everyone is welcome at our studio.
Do you get other women who aren’t pregnant?
Anyone can practice with us – they don’t need to be pregnant.
What about the new barre class? Is it specifically for pre or postnatal?
Our barre fitness classes are for everybody. We created two barre programs. One is Barre and the other is Barre Babies. For the Barre Babies class, the babies are cozy lying on a blanket beside their mama while she does the class. It’s nice because the mamas can do a fun and strengthening workout with their babes right there. The other Barre class is without baby. It is fantastic barre routine that is challenging, accessible and safe for pregnancy Anyone can come to our regular Barre class.
When you decided to start your business did you have any support from any one to help you build it?
That’s a great question. I went to school for marketing and business and I worked in corporate marketing for ten years. I also come from a family of entrepreneurs and grew up working in a family-run small business. From a support stand point I had my family’s encouragement, and when I started working I hired the owner of Blooma as a coach who offered me a lot of guidance. Along the way I’ve made close friends with other women entrepreneurs. This has been such a source of support for me and I am so thankful for those friendships. They can genuinely empathize with the unique challenges I experience as a small business owner. These women re-energize me, ground me and inspire me.
Owning your own business and having a personal life – how do you balance the two?
It was really hard at the start. Now, I’ve got into a healthy rhythm of work and life. I love my work and it is my life, but I am able to put it down and focus on different aspects of my life without feeling guilty or anxious.
I practice mindfulness and being present as much as I can. Small things make a difference. I don’t have notifications on my phone for anything – emails, text messages etc. This means I am able to focus on what is / who is in front of me without distraction. I create hard divisions when I am at home by not multitasking work and life – I don’t sit in front of my tv with my laptop, I choose – either watch tv and soak it all up – or work, and work efficiently. I also use my calendar to help me create balance. Everything is planned out and tracked so I can see fully how I am spending my time and create adjustments if needed. I found having a routine as a small business owner is very important to balancing business and personal life otherwise the two are continuously flowing in and out of each other and it feels like you are always working.
Do you use any apps or organizational tools that you like?
My calendar is really what keeps me organized. I have used an agenda since the time I was in grade school. Planning makes me feel grounded and in control, I think it does for many people. When you’re the boss and there is no one to tell you what to do…it can sometimes feel overwhelming. It is nice to have structure, so my calendar is my boss and tells me what to do.
From a financial standpoint, I use a simple cash flow excel document that keeps the business spending organized and in the black.
When you’re having a stressful day what do you like to do to destress?
Everyday I meditate. I meditate in the morning and night. I find that when I meditate – especially in the morning – my days are less stressful and that’s because I’m more grounded and can roll with what’s coming in. I respond to my day instead of react. I breathe through stressful situations and know they are temporary.
You know the book, the Power of Now? It’s amazing and one of my favourite books. Something I learned from that book is that when we’re feeling stressed in a situation, it’s usually not what’s happening in the situation that is stressing us out, it’s the resistance that we are putting up against what is happening, that is causing us stress.
If I don’t push against what is happening in the moment, I’m not causing resistance, I’m not feeling stressed. For example when the studio air conditioner stops working in 30C heat, I’m not stressed, I just put in action what needs to happen and move on. I’m not happy about the situation – but I surrender to it and I’m not stressed.
So to summarize…I meditate daily, practice acceptance and live in the moment.
I guess that’s the whole idea of mindfulness too, right? Accepting the present.
Yes, 100%. And trust me, it took me a long time to get where I am now. And I work at it every day. When I first opened TYM, every time something went wrong I would go from 0 to 100 on the stress scale. It wasn’t good for my health and there were many times my stress was debilitating. I had to take an honest look at how I was managing my stress and make some changes.
When you meditate, how long do you mediate for?
In the morning – quick 10 minutes, I use the app Calm. I love that app so much and tell everyone about it. Every morning I wake up and there’s a new mediation, I don’t have to think about what meditation to do. It’s a simple 10-minute guided meditation and it just sets me up for success and positions me for the day. In the evening, I like to turn my phone off an hour before bed so I’ll usually read, journal or do a longer mediation. I love Deepak and Oprah’s meditation series. It’s a great evening routine and a nice way to close down the day.
I also remember when I first met you, you mentioned you put lavender on your feet before bed.
Yes, every night I also put some lavender essential oil on my feet, hands, wrists and my pillow. I LOVE the scent and it signals to me it is time for bed. I also truly believe it helps me sleep better.
Would you say that is one of your go-to wellness hacks? Or do you have any others?
I do love the lavender in the evening because I think it’s an easy and sustainable routine. Every morning I also drink lemon water – I have for three years. I just buy the organic lemon juice in the glass bottle…I don’t squeeze the lemons anymore lol! I pour in warm water and I sip it while I meditate. Then I’ll enjoy my coffee and journal shower and greet my day by turning on my phone.
Do you have a favourite quote?
Happiness is now. Your life is right now. Stop waiting to “start” your life. Stop thinking that you will finally be happy when such and such happens. The light has come – it is not coming.
Lesson 75 from A Course In Miracles: “The light has come”.
The idea behind this quote is…the time is now. Happiness is now. Your life is right now. Stop waiting to “start” your life. Stop thinking that you will finally be happy when such and such happens. The light has come – it is not coming.
What is your definition of wellness?
Feeling healthy in my mind, body and soul.
Meditation and mindfulness for my mind, exercising and eating nutritious food for my body, disconnecting from my phone and enjoying a night in sipping tea and reading for my soul.
When these three things are in alignment – I am happy and I am well.