Tina James: When life inverts you

Tina James

Tina James

Those who know Tina James as Pashumati, one of Whistler’s best regarded yoga teachers, might be surprised to hear that the owner of the Jivamukti Yoga School in Whistler, B.C. was once a gladiator in England.

Years ago, Tina owned Chapel Rock, the first indoor rock climbing centre in England, as well as a large gym where she was part of the English gladiators program. But, 28 years ago, Tina found yoga after a near-fatal moment left her in a wheel chair for six months with a terrible head injury: she was hit by a drunk driver while riding her horse. The then 21-year-old had 26 horses and show jumped for her country, but her injury would offer a course correction that would force her to learn about forgiveness — and the wellness industry.

“I had to learn to forgive and help my family forgive,” Tina says. “I have been with wealth and then sleeping in my car. I’ve seen a lot of life.”

Tina made a trip to India where she would meet her first teacher, Shri K Pattabhi Jois, and his son Manju, who would set her on her path to yogic outcome. She visited her teacher every year for 12 years until she and Manju brought a centre to England in 2003. After choosing to relocate to Canada and opening Jivamukti in 2008, now Manju comes to visit her Whistler location.

Still, on the mountain Tina is known for more than just yoga. She has worked for the Whistler ski patrol for eight years and her son, a professional skier and film editor, has been actively making Tina’s first short movie on animal activism and why a vegetarian diet is so important in yoga practices.

“Activism and protection of our planet are the reasons I became a yoga teacher, and to assist First Nations elders with maintaining their teachings before they are all lost,” says Tina.

Tina will be guest starring at the 2014 Victoria Yoga Conference with her Jivamukti-style inversions — postures that literally turns our worlds upside down, she says. This class is where she likes to challenge people to be radical and move away from being a victim. Her classes are often infused with humor, vigorous practice, rehab for serious injuries and a different approach to assisting for total self-transformation.

“What ever does not kill you simply makes you stronger — always look for the light,” says Tina, who was forced to live out of her car for two months when her business in Canada was first starting.

With all the determination she could muster, and through the support of her family, she worked 12-hour days, often teaching seven classes a day between Whistler and Vancouver until she found her footing.

“I am ever positive and live with the most joyful gratefulness for my sons, my parents, my students and my beloved teachers … I am always with my faith.”   Tina was given her spiritual name, Pashumati — protector of the wild animals — by her beloved teacher Sharon Gannon. So, Tina says, she has to live up to her name. While she would like to see a plastic-free ski resort, as well as protection for the forests and the oceans, currently Jivamukti’s five-dollar-Fridays go to help protect the Whistler black bear and Asian black bear from winding up in bear bile farms.

The now 51-year-old teacher says yoga is entwined with everything she does.

“I live yoga,” Tina says. “Yoga is not a negation of life, it is life.”

Learn more about Tina at: http://www.loka-yoga.com/
Friend her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Whistler-Jivamukti-Yoga-school/104027286329827
Google+: Jivatina James