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VIDEO and story: Heart of Our City - Mind, body and yoga

Morgan Sundin on her world travels and studing yoga in Nepal and India

Sitting in an easy cross legged position, hands rested on knees, she guides the others in the room to focus on taking a deep breath, in and out.

At the Prince Rupert Meditation Sangha, yogi, Madame, mother and world traveller, Morgan Sundin, welcomes people of all backgrounds to sit and meditate together on Sundays.

Sundin has lived on the north coasts in the east and west of Canada, and she has also travelled, worked and studied in both eastern and western cultures.

She describes her experiences as beautiful, and she’s happy the path she followed drew her back to Prince Rupert.

Movement has been a part of her life even before she caught the travel bug. Her father worked as a pilot for the RCMP, and the Sundin family moved around a few times. She was born in Labrador, but spent her formative years in Prince Rupert, before moving back east to Happy Valley-Goosebay for Grade 11 and 12.

“It was quite the change to go back to the barren tundra. The school closed when temperatures reached minus 50 C, and there were snow drifts up to the second floor,” Sundin said.

From one extreme coast to the other. The family lived on a military base where fresh produce had to be flown in from Labrador. She learned how to ride a skidoo and she went to school with mostly Inuit.

The travel bug took its first bite when she was 15 years old. She went to Europe for a summer, and the trip flipped a switch inside her that drew her to pursue more global explorations.

She studied for her bachelor of education in Ontario, which gave her the opportunity to do a year abroad in France.

“Meanwhile, while I lived in Ontario, my family moved back to Prince Rupert. It was this seamless process of me living in all these different places and they just kept accumulating boxes for me and I’m so glad that they landed back here,” she said.

With her psychology and education degree, she moved to South Korea to teach at a Canadian school in Seoul. Near the end of her two years there, she had a spinal injury, and the path before her took a sharp turn.

“It’s funny how life gives you little messages sometimes that maybe your life should be going in this direction instead of that direction and maybe you just need to be on the floor for a while until you get realigned with yourself,” Sundin said.

That was when she discovered yoga. She embraced the practice for her health, and her new path led her to study in Nepal, where her yoga master lived, and where she met her now-husband Dinesh.

“The two of us really fell in love with what we were learning and wanted to learn it more deeply and more firmly,” she said.

The couple moved to Bangalore to study at the yoga university in southern India. Sundin was the only westerner living on campus, which was also an ashram, or monastery, hospital and spiritual centre. Once she finished her masters degree in yoga she worked in a 250 bed yoga hospital on the outskirts of Bangalore.

People would come and live there and learn yoga practices, such as diet, movement, breathing, meditation, and Sundin said she saw how yoga could help transform some of the lifestyle related ailments that are fairly common.

At the university, they also taught kids regulated breathing, slow breathing as well as fast breathing, and saw what effects it had on them, cognitively, academically. Sundin said they even tested the children’s IQ and after one month of practicing yoga breathing techniques their IQ significantly improved after a month of learning how to breath slowly.

The couple were invited to teach in other places around the world, but Sundin and Dinesh wanted to make Canada their home. After five years in Asia, Sundin moved to Prince Rupert to reclaim the boxes her parents had been saving for her.

“Since then I’ve lived and worked in a lot of different countries. I moved back here in 2010, when I was 30, and I felt like I was a salmon going back upstream. Going to go home and have my babies,” she said with a touch of humour.

It took over a year for Dinesh to join her. Once he did, they opened a yoga studio from 2010 to 2014 to share what they’d learned with the community. They closed the studio to have a family and three months later they were expecting their son, Naveen.

Since 2010, Madame Sundin has also been working as a French immersion teacher at Roosevelt Elementary. The world traveller has taught in France, South Korea, India, Nepal and Prince Rupert. Last fall, she started her masters in counselling, and she will be changing roles this September as an elementary school counsellor for the school district.

“I really felt like I needed a western training to complement my eastern training,” she said. “I want to be able to share these tools and techniques and programs with kids … It’s my gift. My way to contribute.”

Another way she contributes is through the meditation group, which will continue into its third year this fall. Anyone is welcome to join, and its free. This community she’s helped build with Dinesh has helped with their longing for the community they had in the east. Namaste.