SIX NATIONS – “Yoga is a practice that should be accessible,” explains yoga instructor Nicole Oliver. Unfortunately, however, this isn’t always the case as yoga has been coopted by business interests that are more interested in making money. As a result it seems most people perceive it as something for movie stars or downtown city-dwellers. Staying faithful to the principles of yoga is one of Oliver’s priorities as the instructor of affordable classes being run at the Our Sustenance Greenhouse. “Yoga helps you connect to that true sense of self, but in doing that you connect to others. I think I just wanted to teach at Six Nations because I wanted to make an accessible and beautiful program with the lovely people at the greenhouse,” explains Oliver.
Nicole Oliver was first drawn to yoga while attending school in Montreal and recovering from an abusive relationship; she fell in love with yoga immediately. Oliver’s educational background is in Social Work and she found a way to bring her passion for yoga and her career together. “I knew something was missing in Social Work practice… How can I do something that’s a little more holistic for people? I just knew there was a different way to connect and to help people realize the changes they want to see,” said Oliver.
Now living near Six Nations, she saw an opportunity to give to the community and share her skills. She began volunteering at the Our Sustenance Greenhouse nearly a year ago and knew this would be a good place to offer yoga classes. “They feel comfortable and safe to go because Our Sustenance Greenhouse is a community space that people already know,” explained Oliver. It’s something that most yoga studios can only dream about. As yoga participant Pat told us, “I’ve been to gyms and health spas and I always feel out of place.” With classes running inside the greenhouse, it is a space that is brimming with life and positive energy. “I definitely like the energy of the plants, being Haudenosaunee we have a strong connection to nature, each living being has a spirit, including the plants,” said Amy, another participant.
Oliver insists that everyone is welcome to her classes, even if you think it is not for you. She suggests you come out and see what it’s like, as you’re free to do what appeals to you. “I’m just your guide, yoga is your practice, everything I say is a suggestion or invitation,” explains Oliver. All bodies and genders are welcome. Although yoga is perceived as something for women, Oliver suggests that men can get a lot out of yoga too. It’s a place where people can, as she puts it, “Explore the balance between strength and tenderness.”
It’s also a chance to let your inner child run free, as Pat shares, “I think it’s a freeing thing… it’s like being a kid, kids roll down hills, and they eat the flowers off the clovers, and hang upside down from trees, and that’s what yoga feels like to me, it’s like being a kid.” She also thinks it will appeal to community members’ own culture and traditions, “I think a lot of the ideas are common to just about any Indigenous people anywhere, to be peaceful, to remain centered, to remember that you are a part of the earth and the earth is a part of you, we don’t live on it, we’re part of it.”
Classes are drop-in and are held every Tuesday from 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM and from 6 PM to 7 PM. They are also pay-what-you-can and mats are provided, ensuring it is accessible to everyone. The Our Sustenance Greenhouse is just behind Big Six gas station at 2662 4th Line. For more information email Nicole Oliver at email@example.com.