Julie Peters is a writer, yoga teacher, and co-owner of Ocean and Crow Yoga studio in Vancouver, BC with her mom, Jane. She writes a biweekly column for Spirituality and Health Magazine called Downward blog, and is the author of the book Secrets of the Eternal Moon Phase Goddesses: Meditations on Desire, Relationships, and the Art of Being Broken (SkyLight Paths 2016).
What do I do best?
I think one of the most important skills I have as a yoga teacher is holding space. I try my best to create a space where people can be themselves, show up with whatever is going on for them in that moment, and let that be okay. I also do that with my friends, who tend to turn to me when they have something difficult they want to talk about, and in my writing, where I work to make whatever concept I’m talking about accessible and relatable, even if it’s complex.
What makes me the best version of myself?
My willingness to ask for help! I think it’s so important to admit that you don’t always know what you are doing, and that there are people out there who can and want to help you. Being willing to be uncomfortable in an unfamiliar circumstance or try something you might be bad at is one of my favourite places to grow.
What are my aspirations?
My next book! I loved the process of writing the first book, Secrets of the Eternal Moon Phase Goddesses: Meditations on Desire, Relationships, and the Art of Being Broken (https://www.amazon.ca/Secrets-Eternal-Moon-Phase-Goddesses/dp/1594736189/). It fed something so deep and so hungry in me and I want more. I loved the deep research and the intense contemplation that comes through the writing. My second book will continue to explore our daily life and emotions through mythological figures, but I think this new one is going to be more focused on rage, resistance, and a loving sort of fierceness that we all need to live in this difficult world.
One of the things I love most about the career I’ve created for myself—writer, yoga teacher, small business owner, entrepreneur—is that it’s so flexible and can go in so many different directions. Lately I’ve been expanding into audio courses. My most recent one was a 16-night moon meditation ritual (http://www.jcpeters.ca/offerings/audio-courses/) which was a delight to share. People could do it from anywhere in the world, no matter what was going on with them, even if they were sick in bed and couldn’t get to a yoga studio. I’m intending on creating more courses like that!
My Biggest Success?
Definitely my book, Secrets of the Eternal Moon Phase Goddesses: Meditations on Desire, Relationships, and the Art of Being Broken (https://www.amazon.ca/Secrets-Eternal-Moon-Phase-Goddesses/dp/1594736189/). I’ve wanted to write a book all my life, and this one let me go so deep into a philosophical perspective and a mythology that genuinely did change my life for the better. Sharing it has been an incredible experience and it has expanded my life and work in many and surprising ways.
I also have to say I am intensely proud of Ocean and Crow Yoga, (http://oceanandcrow.ca/)the small yoga studio I own and run with my mom, Jane. We have worked so hard together and with our community to keep trying to figure out a way to make the studio work in the competitive city of Vancouver, and after eight years or so, we’ve created a really welcoming space that supports a range of different bodies in our community, is unapologetically feminist in its values, and encourages the teachers that work with us to expand in what they do and really be who they are. Running a small business is hard, but it’s been incredibly rewarding.
My Most Challenging Moment?
I experienced a sexual assault years ago, and the process of healing from that has been really challenging. Yoga helped me stay connected to my body, which has become like a friend in the journey back to health and healing, but sometimes yoga classes also came with damaging messages like “everything happens for a reason,” which infuriated me soon after my assault, and “you manifest your reality” which made me feel like the assault was my fault. Going through that difficult healing process took a long time (and in many ways it’s ongoing) but I’ve learned so much along the way. I’ve had to really think critically about the messages I’ve received in yoga classes and from the world I like in and figure out my own way to understand my body and my spirituality. I’ve also developed a lot of compassion, I think, for all that my students might be going through and all I don’t understand about someone else’s experience. I think I’m a better healer for having been wounded.
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue.” Rainer Maria Rilke
My Favorite People/Role Models?
My mom, Jane, absolutely. She has been a powerhouse for my immediate family but she also took on the role of my business partner later in her life in addition to her full time job. She learned what she needed to know in her life and in her work and she’s such an asset to everyone she encounters. She’s a huge role model for me and I feel really lucky we’ve been able to work together at the studio.
My Favorite Places/Destinations?
I’ve had some fantastic trips in the past couple of years with girlfriends: an organic farm in a small town in Mexico, a beach vacation to Hawaii, and Nashville, Tennessee to see the total solar eclipse last year which completely blew me away. Tofino on Vancouver Island is a perennially magical place, especially in January, when most of the tourists are gone and you can take long walks on the sandy beaches or in the old growth forests in the rain and just feel the magic of the place.
My Favorite Products/Objects?
My Current Passions?
Writing is both my work and my passion. I have a column for Spirituality and Health Magazine (https://spiritualityhealth.com/blogs/downward-blog-a-life-in-yoga) where I have the space to explore all kinds of questions about life and practice. I also write poetry, feminist film reviews, and every morning in a journal for myself. My meditation course on the moon goddesses that I recently sent out came with writing prompts and I really enjoyed writing in my journal and seeing what came up. If I want to understand something better, whether that’s goddess mythology or my own feelings, writing helps me shape the ideas in my mind.
I also made a resolution this summer to cook for people more. I’m learning simple recipes and sharing them with my friends and family, and it’s been a really rewarding way to nourish myself and my loved ones and learn a new skill. My mom is a great cook and I learned from her when I was a kid, but it’s so easy to get into a rut with quick convenience foods or just default to going out for dinner. Making food for someone else feels like a very powerful expression of love and nourishment.
My New Year’s resolution for this coming year is to learn more about the indigenous history, mythology, and culture of Canada, where I live. There is such rich history and tradition here, but a lot of it has been changed or suppressed in the course of colonization. I didn’t learn much about that history in high school, and the Canadian government is in the process of trying to figure out a truth and reconciliation process, so this year’s project will be to educate myself. I’ve started with a wonderful online course that’s being offered by the University of Alberta that you can take for free or as a certificate course (https://www.coursera.org/learn/indigenous-canada).
Photo credit: Nora Grace Photographer