Power Yoga for National Defence Work Charitable Campaign

October has been crazy, we had great temperature here in Ottawa/Outaouais area which led to outside play and enjoying more sun tan we are used to. Before everything froze to the ground like this morning, my lawn is frozen, I will need to start my car in advance for the windows to defreeze, that’s the life in Quebec-Ontario border.

In September, my work group at the higher lever, informed us of the plan for this year Work Charitable Campaign for the National Defense, nothing was interesting me, except paying 15$ for my button authorizing me to wear a clean cut pair of jeans on Fridays (whout whout!!!). There was no special activity. We met with the Core Group of NDWCC and the were going with yard sale, baking sale, but nothing to make people move, no sport contest nothing different, so the same activity years after years.

So I thought about offering a free yoga class, participant will give by donation, min 5$ that will go directly to the NDWCC. I contacted my chain of command, and then, contacted the Chief of campaign in my branch, he was taken back, he wasn’t sure that Yoga was appropriate. I looked at him “WTF does it mean, what on Earth ca be inappropriate in yoga?”. He let me go by saying that he will talk to the chief of staff.

Chief of staff accepted if we do yoga in our new installation (that was never going to happen) they were not ready at all to move there, so I proposed to the campaign chief to book the Concourse and to held or event there, and if the big boss say no, we’ll cancel, and if he says yes, everything wil already be set up 🙂

I had a tremendous job in my plate. I’m the yoga teacher, I can cross that out of the “To do list”, what else… yeah, find the person responsible to make reservation of the Concourse, the main grand hall in the NDHQ, it’s ginormous, publicity, draw and print ticket, with the question, how much should people pay ? Can we only say “by donation”, or go with a minimum “by donation 5$ minimum… or 10$ is it too much? In all DND organization, people are asked all the time during the campaign to give money to different activity, so 10$ might be too much, let’s go for 5$. Security? How do we deal with security, from people working for DND but who don’t have access to NDHQ ? I needed clearly people to help me with their expertise.

That’s when I met Natalie, from PWGSC, she explained to me what comes with making a reservation of the Concourse, easy peasy, I select the date, tell them what I need and one hour before my time, they will make it happen. Yeah! Then, how do we deal with have a microphone and speakers and music. Just called my best friend Melanie, who told me her section are in charge of that, “let me get back to you she said”, alright then.

Called the informatics section, I remember one of the guy there made beautiful ticket for a mediaeval fair, spoke to him, give him delay, sent me template, made some change and in less than a day or two, our tickets to sale were good to go ! How exciting! Now we need a table to sale them, and give package of 10 to our friends to sell in their building.

Melanie called me back and told me they have a brand new music system, I will have a small microphone, attached to my clothes with the battery system to my hips, easy peasy lemon squeezy 🙂

Selling the tickets: How do you encourage 20 000 military and public servant to participate to a yoga class ? How, probably with work like “Power yoga” “Pop music top 20 style”. Started selling ticket through friends and at my work. It went pretty well but we had no idea on how many we will be and not being a lot in that huge place made of concrete, in an open area where people use to walk betweek North Tower and South tower it could be really awkward.

Book in advance a photograph, it worked! Whout Whout !

2 Nov we sale ticket in front of the cafeteria Melanie and myself, I feel kind of awkward in my yoga clothes (at least I’m comfy in my BLOOM legging and Melanie in her AURORA. “Hi General, do you want to participate to our charitable event tomorrow, its Power yoga in the Concourse in NHDQ ” (me smiling), general came to me and said, of course I love yoga. Pressure on my shoulder dropped, and I started smiling. People were looking at us weird and we received again and again the same comments and believe me, it will be the subject of my next blog.

1- I’m not stretchy bendy, I can’t do yoga

2- Yoga is for girls

3 Nov, my gosh, I’m nervous. But I know myself enough that I’m only nervous because we don’t know how many tickets we sold so I don’t know if it will be a flop. The Chief of campaign told me that even 20 yogis would be great. Not in my head… I wanted 200 yogis ok maybe 100 would be fine. Emilie is there, wearing her ISLAND Bliss Legging and Melanie is wearing her AURORA legging, they are so pretty, a friend teacher Cindy is there too, and my husband. Some colleagues are there to help with materials, organization of the space, getting the gym yoga mat and bring them downstairs. Water, first aid kit, Fire marshal, security guard, it’s pretty wicked in our military environment. Music test is done and everything is working, microphone test is working good, test test ONE TWO TEST TEST, and then I start singing “Si tu aimes le soleil tu tapes des mains” (clap clap), everybody is laughing, OK I’m not nervous anymore.

Ready for the show !

Melanie and Emilie are just laughing; they have to move the selling table over and over again because there is not enough space on the Concourse made available to us for all the yogis and yoginis coming to play with us for a good cause.

Go to the top of the space, in front of all the flags from different country, and I SMILED. The biggest, largest, and intense smile I had done of the day, maybe of the week or even the month. I completely forgot to introduce myself (it makes me laugh thinking about it), I was focus on the importance to address security issue and to name my colleague, that I forgot my own name 🙂

And we started the practice. The music was playing, a top Canadian 20 hit list of the moment, nicely mixed by myself 🙂 And I made them flow, and twist, and get attuned to their breath and out of their head. 2 fantastic friends demoing and one other teacher, adjusting. It went fantastically well, at the end, they all sat, and we took three breaths together, and I felt I was on “Cloud 9”. Magical feeling. I said NAMASTE, my forehead touched the floor and rounds of applauded exploded. I started laughing. MAGICAL !

The gym manager offered me to give yoga classes for the military in 2 gyms, to help military members deal with PTSD and other illness and even regular military and civil servant. I’m really excited to go on with the organization and help. It will create a change in culture, it will create a shift in opinions, and maybe we will see in the future, yoga for military being part of the basic training 🙂

With Love, peace, and light.

 Marie-Julie Yoga


Shop at #myinnerfire www.myinnerfire.com and use my personnal code : MariejulieC to get 15% off on your entire purchase !

Photo Credit: Corporal Mélani GirardCanadian Forces Support Unit (Ottawa) Imaging Services©2015 DND-MDN Canada

Album photo NDWCC /photo album Photo CCMTDN

Me Marie-Julie Côté, L.LL. LLB. 
Professeure de Yoga / Yoga  teacher 

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