Being a yoga teacher wasn’t originally even on Phil Landel’s radar when one of his own teachers quietly slipped a training pamphlet under his mat in class one day.

“I thought, there’s NO WAY, you know?” Phil said laughing. “There’s no way I was going to take that pay cut.”

Phil started his career in the corporate world as a project manager for a construction company. What was the reason behind that career path? He’s still not so sure …

“I guess my parents thought I was good at math and that’s why I was there. But you start to do things and then you think, ‘Why am I doing them?’ You think, ‘What’s important to me?’” he explained. “I didn’t really ask myself that question until later in my life to understand what I really wanted.”

After joining the Canadian Navy in high school, Phil spent 10 years serving while completing Business School at the University of Ottawa and travelling. When he settled into his job in project management it was the logical next step, but not the most fulfilling one. Phil eventually realized he was also battling depression, insomnia and addictions.

“I think the biggest obstacle was my insomnia,” he said. “It would affect everything, my energy, concentration, happiness. I got into a mode where I thought this is how people live. People would tell me you need to take this or that because you need sleep, like, it will kill you if you don’t sleep.”

With a strong aversion to drugs, Phil wanted a more natural solution. He was ready and wanting to make a change.

So in 2011, Phil decided to leave his corporate job in order to pursue a new path. Until this point, he had been practising yoga but he now wanted to maintain a daily practice. When he was given the teacher training pamphlet he started to notice how happy his other teachers were.

“There was something about them that screamed, ‘Money is not the root of all happiness!’ And to me it was always that,” said Phil. “I didn’t really understand the world like I do now, I guess. And I started to realize that making the big paycheck is not what is going to bring you sustainable happiness.”

A week after he saw the pamphlet, Phil decided to participate in a meditation class led by a guru visiting Ottawa and during that session he had a pivotal moment of clarity. He signed up for yoga teacher training the very next day. He took an intensive course and started teaching within six weeks. After just four months he was teaching full-time.

Phil found that yoga came relatively naturally to him. He had a background in gymnastics, martial arts, dance, and football so coordination, flexibility, and the physical strength aspects of yoga weren’t too difficult to pick up. This strengthened his passion for movement and mobility in general.

Now, Phil is not only a dedicated and spirited yoga teacher, leading classes and teacher training, but he also teaches our EPIC Advanced movement class, dedicated to #movementculture, increasing mobility, and working on movement progressions that will enhance performance, prevent injury, help heal, and increase strength. But even in movement classes, Phil finds there is still an element of yoga.

“The yoga aspect I bring to all my classes is awareness,” he said. “We’re doing movements we can become efficient in by becoming aware about how we do it.”

Awareness is an essential concept in yoga. As Phil explains, the practice is about finding the fulfilment within and it helped Phil to do just that. It also opened his eyes to a different kind of approach that he now uses both on and off the mat.

“I often take big decisions and I make them right away … but with yoga, it was a bit different. When I practised I started to realize that the approach I always had was not ideal because I did some things kind of reactively but I didn’t stop and slow down the process. With yoga you have no choice, you slow down everything.”

Phil had always had an all-or-nothing mindset. He would set his mind on something and go all-out for it or put absolutely everything into it. Yoga has helped Phil take a step back. The philosophies he’s learned studying yoga transcend the practice into his everyday life.

“Yoga has definitely allowed me to, first of all, become aware of what I’m feeling and understand that that feeling is temporary and to not push it away,” he mused aloud. “To let it be there, to sit with it and change my perception of what it is. I realized that when I resist things I need to ask myself why I am resisting it.”

Before diligently practising yoga, Phil described himself as short-tempered, which is understandable for someone getting only three hours of sleep each night. But yoga has made a world of difference.

“As I move [now], I understand what are my boundaries, how can I respect the boundaries and not push through them like I would in another sport, but instead expanding within the boundaries and not going too far too fast,” he clarified.

It helped him to finally get some sleep and recognize that he is in control of his own life and, as he eloquently put, “see life is not happening to me, it’s happening for me.”

Ultimately, yoga is the pursuit of understanding the self and understanding the self in relation to our environment but, as Phil explains, it is thought in yoga philosophy that you don’t find yoga, yoga finds you.

“In my classes I feel more like myself than anywhere else in the sense that I’m connecting with something that I feel is just flowing underneath me and I’m just going along for the ride.”

As a Karma Yogi, Phil finds this energy comes also from helping others. He describes the Karma Yoga path as “the worker’s path” for those who are strong and have energy enough to share with others while replenishing their own.

You’ll find in Phil’s classes that his positive energy is almost tangible. His creativity and playful nature make his classes and style of teaching unique, effective and fun because - hey - he wants to have fun, too!

“I like creativity and that’s what keeps me on my toes, being able to be creative in the way I look at things. That’s why I learn and practice different disciplines, and from different teachers, different styles - and I practice and make it my own. To me, as long as it’s mindful movement, it’s yoga.”

At EPIC we not only offer yoga and gym facilities but encourage a truly holistic approach to health. Check our group class schedule for classes Phil teaches. Join us to explore the difference yoga and movement can make in your life.