Much like the surrounding Leslieville neighbourhood, former Argonaut Andre Talbot is experiencing a shift in his metaphysical environment.
After the 2010 season, the wide receiver retired an Edmonton Eskimo, but would come back home to Toronto, where he spent nine seasons as one of the Double Blue’s fan favourites.
Still in between November 2010 and now, Talbot along with girlfriend Catalina Moraga went on a path to spiritual discovery, traveling to Argentina, Chile, Guatemala and Baja Sur California in Mexico.
It was the last stop where the two obtained the teachers’ certificates in the art of Asana yoga.
By no means was the pilgrimage based on a whim. Years ago, his strength and condition coach Matt Nichol planted the seed of the Southeast Asian art in him.
“Since then it’s just slowly developed into a more holistic approach to yoga and a better understanding of yoga as a lifestyle, as something that creates balance in your life,” he said, seated in his Spirit Loft Yoga studio with Moraga close by. “Not just in the physical being but in the mental and spiritual part of life.”
With Asana yoga, Talbot focuses on the yin and yang of the entire person. Balance is key, especially in helping with the CFL.
“I think it’s more important in the way it has transformed me in my shift out of football,” he said. “I really wished I had gotten deeper into it during my career.
“The work environment of pro sports is very stressful,” he added. “Especially if you’re not Michael Jordan, Derek Jeter or Anthony Calvillo.”
Now as a certified yoga instructor, Talbot has been able to see the other side of the pro sports psyche, and he’s eager to help sweat away the stress of his fellow athletes.
“That world can create imbalances in lifestyle, in egos and just how you expect life to unfold for you,” he said. “Yoga really gave me the opportunity to look within myself and beyond what my life was as a football player.”
When he returned home, he contacted Nichol and worked with him to help expose NHLers to yoga.
“It felt very intuitive with me because I know what’s going on in their body,” he said. “I know where their tightness lies: they get tight in the hips and the back from training and the impact of the sport.
“It was also seeing their ups and downs, the stresses of the game and the anxiety starting to build.”
Then came his next reception: Spirit Loft Yoga, a place where anyone can come and meditate, steal themselves away from the stresses of work.
“You’ll hear yogis refer to the yoga mat as sort of the microcosm for the world outside,” Moraga said. “So the lessons learned on the mat are transferable to the world outside.”
“The whole shift, and what yoga is about, is looking within and changing within for the better,” he said. “To find that balance, that inner compassion and once you find that within and ripple outward.”
And they hope the community finds the same thing.
“By being in Leslieville we are wanting to reach out,” Talbot said. “We don’t pretend to know anything but what we can do is share what we’ve learned on this path.”