As you’ve heard by now, we’re celebrating our tenth year of Toronto Yoga Conference this year. At this decade milestone, we wanted to reflect and share what inspired us along this journey and why we keep growing Canada’s largest yoga conference.
Last week we shared the story of our conference founder, Ruth van der Voort, who found yoga through studying meditation. After some years of travelling to study meditation, Ruth became a Yoga teacher in the “Yoga Boom” of the late nineties.
While Yoga was growing in popularity, Ruth noticed that the mentally calming aspects of meditation outside regular asanas weren’t being fully explored.
“I felt there was a lot of Yoga instructing going on, but not a lot of actual Yoga teaching. Teachers know how to SEE what yogis need in terms of alignment, breathing; instructors don’t. And after teaching, I felt I was very good at seeing.”
The big wave of yoga instructors came from the lack of regulation and a rise in “branded” yoga. The growing yoga industry was continuously pumping out “weekend yoga instructors” who knew the names and shapes of poses but had little knowledge of the meaning of the poses, the tradition behind the poses or even the proper alignment of the poses.
At this point, professional organizations like the Canadian Yoga Alliance didn’t exist yet, and it was hard to find a professional institution that provided reliable resources and opportunities to connect with other yogis.
Even if she was burnt out from having a successful yoga teaching program, and young children running around – Ruth saw an opportunity and a need for a place where yogis could get together and share ideas. Yoga isn’t a brand, and is much more than just a form of exercise.
Ruth had experienced the healing power of yoga first hand – using it to help overcome mental health struggles in her teen years. But this healing and scientific aspect of yoga was hardly mentioned and the need to spread these ideas was very clear.
“A platform for development is essential in any industry. Especially in one as unregulated as yoga where not enough people understand the science.” Ruth explains.
In 2005 taking a deep breath of courage, Ruth started planning her first Toronto Yoga Conference. Her goal was to turn the wave of yoga instructors into yoga teachers by providing a space where yogis can learn new perspectives, and gain a deeper understanding of yoga’s connection to spirituality, science and psychology.
In 2006 she co-ran ‘Yoga in Toronto’ which hosted 5000 yogis. After a failed business partnership, she opened The Toronto Yoga Conference and Show in 2007 with her own vision to provide a platform for the yoga community to collectively come together, share, grow, be inspired and evolve.
From this point on the mission of the Toronto Yoga Show and Conference has been to continue to inspire the teaching of yoga. The conference has continually grown every year. The 2016 event hosted 29,210 yoga aficionados.
Ruth says the plan for the next ten years is to continue to get more people on yoga mats and grow the event and to grow the Toronto Yoga platform in this great city. This is the ONE place to go for everything Yoga. We can’t wait to see you for our tenth annual event from March 31 – April 2 in 2017. You can get your FREE PASS to the show floor here, or register for world class workshops here.