My name is Yana Banzen and I am a recovering personal injury lawyer.
I discovered yoga during law school thanks to my best friend who dragged me kicking and screaming to my first class. I liked it but shavasana made me feel lazy. There was no time for feelings or laziness in law school. So I never went again.
I started my law career in 2012. I loved the challenge of litigation and it felt rewarding to help our injured clients receive compensation for their injuries. But as I was helping our clients to piece their lives together, mine was falling apart pretty fast.
I was a terrible friend, a bad partner, a bad daughter. I gave my all on the job and left nothing for myself or for people I loved. The little bit I did give to those I loved – I always felt that I was owed something in return which left me resentful and boxed me in my selfishness even more.
I recognized I needed more balance in my life. I started going to more yoga classes. It felt as a refuge from the buzzing, never-ending to do list running through my mind. I felt more at peace and I felt more and more like coming home to myself every time I did asanas and was in stillness.
I shifted from a life that was going perfectly according to someone else’s plan and started feeling that the truth inside of me needed to find its expression.
I started realizing that everything I sought from outside of myself to make me happy (friendships, relationships, a career, drinking, excessive weightlifting/running, restricted diet) was to fill the gaping hole of misery on the inside… the gaping hole of not living my truth.
Little did I know that going within is what I needed to do to get back on my path.
With yoga began my journey within. My “perfect on paper” life (six figure lawyer salary, a great partner, low body fat percentage, strict keto diet) started to unravel.
I started seeing past the bullshit of some of the friendships I maintained.
I started seeing past the fears that ruled my life.
I started looking at my own intentions.
I started noticing when I was acting motivated by my ego.
I realized that personal injury litigation did not fit me. I felt I was in a state of continuous struggle. Rather than fixing myself to fit the litigation practice – I needed to get on a path that spoke to who I already was and made me more of who I am. I yearned for ease and flow in my life. I wanted the struggle to be over.
There was a nagging, quiet voice inside that made me realize that there was something else I needed to do. Something other than being a lawyer in a swanky office, working 12 hours a day. As this little voice was getting louder - the end of my work contract could not have come at a better time.
My partner at the time and I packed our downtown Toronto apartments into storage lockers. We bought a one-way ticket to Thailand and made Koh Phangan our new home for the next 5 months. Here on this beautiful tropical island we started the journey within… at first together, and then separately as we decided to walk different paths. And that was ok.
I completed my 200-hour Hatha Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Training at Samma Karuna - the Healing and Awakening School on Koh Phangan. Then I taught yoga for the next two months on this amazing island, until it was time to journey back to Canada.
Yoga has been a gentle, transformative journey that taught me self-compassion.
Yoga makes me ask the question: What is my truth? How can I speak my truth and act according to my truth? What is my purpose? Who am I? What am I here for?
Yoga brought me closer to my authentic path in life.
The physical practice of asana makes me feel that I am at peace with myself. I do not need to seek out distractions. I do not need to chase money or career success for its own sake. I do not need anyone or anything to fill the emptiness inside. Yoga reminds me that I am already whole.
I want to share my passion with you. I have never felt more alive than when I teach yoga. I want you to feel the amazing sense of peace that I feel when I practice.
I currently teach group and private yoga classes in Toronto, Ontario. If you are ready to experience the magic – get in touch with me!