New immigrant brings Eastern-style yoga to Cape Breton

17 Sep

WESTMOUNT — Vineeta Sharma is helping spread the healing powers of yoga.



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A native of India, Sharma moved to Cape Breton a year-and-a-half ago after first visiting Halifax where her daughter was attending university.

Sharma’s journey into yoga started in 1996, after an episode of domestic violence left her confined to a hospital bed. Many of her bones were fractured but in addition to the physical pain, she also suffered the loss of her two-and-a-half year-old son who was taken away by his father.

A student of spiritual yoga since childhood, Sharma’s mother taught her daughter that she could heal herself while lying down.

Yoga, combined with multiple operations, led Sharma to make a recovery that was later challenged by a botched operation in 2007. Using yoga to help strengthen her mind and body, she then started teaching the practice of yoga to others.

“It’s traditional Indian yoga,” Sharma said. “We are not working on just flexing our bodies and making our muscles. The main focus is on the internal health. So, most of my classes, like my classes I’m doing right now, they’re called meditative yoga. We focus on the mind and we learn to control our body from inside.”

Sharma said she wants to share yoga and its benefits with others. She’s also trying to squash a misconception that you have to be flexible in order to take part in its exercises.

She said yoga is particularly helpful for people with arthritis, diabetes or multiple sclerosis. Seated yoga is also available for people with physical limitations.

During her visit to Nova Scotia, Sharma met her future husband Joe MacKinnon of Sydney, but an expiring visitors visa meant she would have to leave the country.

Their separation wouldn’t last long, however, as three weeks later MacKinnon travelled to India where he proposed marriage.

On June 3, Sharma became a permanent resident and up until that time was without a work permit. In the past, she volunteered in the community by teaching yoga at the YMCA and First United Church in Sydney.

The experience helped Sharma meet people and also helped in a decision to launch her new business, Eastern Holistic Yoga.

As part of the venture, Sharma is also offering private sessions in reiki healing, a practice for which she is a grandmaster. She is also offering reiki to patients of the cancer unit of the Cape Breton Regional Hospital in a volunteer role this fall.

Sharma also holds a certificate in tai chi instruction after travelling to Shanghai, China.

A full schedule of yoga, meditation and beginner tai chi classes begins this month in Sydney River, Howie Centre and Glace Bay. Details are available at or by phoning 564-2206.


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Posted by on 17/09/2011 in Uncategorized


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