For my student teaching videos, see JaniceWilliamsonYoga on Youtube
As a queer 71-year-old woman, aging feels like a kind of accomplishment. The life force seems to grow ever more intense. My yoga practice connects me to a body that is both frail and strong, restored and precarious, energetic and enervated, libidinal and filled with lassitude. My mood and energy changes after every yoga class where I learn focus, strength, relaxation, and to let go.
Imagining yoga has evolved into my thinking through ‘Fulcrum Yoga.’ The concept arrived because yoga creates a balancing prop or fulcrum that allows us to revolve around our centre and remain in place. Or we can asymmetrically pivot into a new space. Our yoga fulcrum helps negotiate paradox, to vacillate within the contradiction of two opposing movements. For example: yoga finds delight in the tension between Sthira which means ‘to stand, to be firm” in strength and steadiness and Sukha or the ‘good place’ of ease and softness.
Keen to support students in learning as we discover yoga, I adapt classes to our unique bodies. Yoga meets us on the mat however we arrive.
My yoga study began in the late 1970s and 1980s in my first classes with Esther Myers in Toronto and at the Sivananda Yoga Ashram on Paradise Island in the Bahamas and in Val Morin, Quebec. Over the following decades I studied with various practitioners of Iyengar, Yin, Ashtanga, Pranayama, and Hatha Yoga — as well as Pilates and Buddhist meditation.
Over the course of the pandemic, I returned to yoga as a daily practice. Month by month yoga remapped and reanimated my body. Part of that time I’ve been treating a potentially lethal auto-inflammatory disease. This brush with death makes the present moment all the more precious – my yoga practice nested in my net-work of chosen family, friends, and loving companion.
Confronted with potentially destructive medications for my disease, I worked more intensively on my yoga and over the past year became a certified yoga teacher with a four-month teacher training on the eight limbs of yoga and a restorative yoga course both with Octopus Holistic Yoga Centre in Toronto.
I continue to study.
After graduating with a PhD, I taught cultural and literary studies, women’s studies, and creative writing for 32 years at the University of Alberta until my retirement in 2019. In my last years I was elected Equity Chair of my 4000 member university staff union. My publications are in the areas of human rights, women’s cultural studies, trauma, and social justice. The teaching of “difficult knowledge” informs much of this study, my own therapeutic journey, and my approach to yoga.
My Happy Place
- On my yoga mat.
- Writing at my desk.
- Gardening and watching plants grow during latitude 53’s long summer days
- Walking along the ocean with my beloved now adult daughter.
- Setting out on a cold Arctic-like day for a walk that invigorates: “No bad weather, only bad clothing!”
- Snuggling with my aging rescue toy poodle Simone de Bébé and my new West Highland Terrier and Poodle cross puppy named Ruby.
- Exploring the sensual and erotic.