Cindy Gallant was a high school graduate with a Holland College diploma and a job in her field on P.E.I. By many counts, she was on the right track, but she wasn’t happy with where the train was going.
“I had this urge to leave. I had this craving to see the world - I knew that the world was so much bigger than this Island,” said Gallant, who grew up in Summerside.
“One day I decided that I didn’t want my life to look like this,” adding later, “I just had a resistance to this path that’s sort of already laid out for us.”
In 2013, she left her career in favour of a job “digging in the dirt” as a landscaper. Combined with a summer of bartending, she saved enough for a plane ticket to a small Spanish island.
“I had never done anything like that in my whole life, and that brought me into yachting and working on boats. I had never seen anything like it; I didn’t know there were private yachts in the world,” said Gallant.
Her experience of boats up until then had been fishing boats and cruise ships.
She found an old yacht captain who was willing to take a chance and let her join his crew.
“I went sailing for my first time on a proper sailboat — with sails — and was super seasick and was so full of life,” said Gallant.
It was life-changing for her. She worked on board and experienced the world as she’d hoped - but was still feeling a little empty.
“I felt really, sort of adrift in the world. I was like, ‘What am I doing with my life?’” she said.
“I’m working on this rich person’s yacht. There’s Leonardo DiCaprio, I’m on Justin Beiber’s Instagram. I tripped over Mick Jager on New Year’s Eve 2018. I tripped over him in the bar.”
And then, somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, she discovered yoga.
Looking for a workout, she tried a few moves and was soon hooked, practising every day and teaching herself from online videos.
What had started as physical exercise soon became more meaningful.
“When I first got into the world of yoga, I was just blown away by — everything,” she said, pausing to consider.
“Over time, the ego sort of gets pushed and then the spirituality sets in… Yoga is an ancient practice. There’s so much depth, there’s so much intelligence to this practice, and it works on you. Surely, over time, it might take someone a month, it might take someone five years, but it works on your soul.
“Part of the loneliness was feeling disconnected, but that disconnection was actually from myself. That was the most beautiful thing about working on the boats, and in this industry, because it presented to me - it literally showed me - that I’m disconnected from myself and that’s what yoga taught me, that’s what yoga gifted me, was this reconnection to myself.”
She continued to tour the world, visiting exotic beaches and hiking, now with her yoga mat in tow. She attended yoga retreats in the Philippines, Bali, Nicaragua and the United States to name a few, and continued to fall further in love with the practice.
Then, in the summer of 2019, Gallant decided to come home to P.E.I.
It was supposed to a temporary stay, to get some dental work done, but the timing meant she ended up stranded on the Island for the pandemic. Fortunately, she teamed up with some landscaping connections for a place to stay.
She worked at landscaping for the summer of 2020 and settled in for a Canadian winter.
“I didn’t intend to be a yoga instructor,” said Gallant.
She started teaching here and there, filling in for some instructors and holding a few classes at gyms.
“Slowly, I became a part of this beautiful community that was here,” she said. “It’s been incredible.”
In September, she took the plunge and opened Luna Yoga studio in downtown Kensington.
The spacious upper storey studio has warm wooden floors and an ornate antique ceiling.
It has also grown into a community of its own, one that continues to inspire Gallant.
“The people that come here mingle before and after the classes and there’s just so many amazing moments of helping each other out and seeing each other’s hearts.”
Alison Jenkins, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Journal-Pioneer