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DUNCAN PARVIAINEN
IRON MAN . SUGAR ADDICT . PHILOSOPHER . YOGI

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Name: Duncan Parvianian
Yoga Practice Style: Vinyasa, Hatha, Yin
Where were you born: Toronto, Canada
Where is home now: Melbourne, Australia

Whats your story?
I grew up in a small town in Canada, where my family lived off the grid (our house was powered by a windmill and solar panels) in a ten-acre forest. I spent my summers canoe tripping in northern Canada, building character as some would say; getting eaten alive by mosquitoes, tempting death on rapids, and being chewed up by nature. I became a canoe tripping guide and led 10 – 17 year olds on 2 – 3½ week expeditions- it was tough but gratifying work.

Because of my upbringing and my love for being in nature I developed a passion for philosophy and that is how I was first introduced to yoga. I graduated from my first Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Training when I was 17, started teaching free classes in my high school and have been teaching ever since. I received a full scholarship to attend university to become a doctor but eventually transitioned into the arts for performance dance.

Once I left school, to appease my desire for intensity, I fell in love with Ironman Triathlon and competed in two races (Canada, and Mexico). I met my boyfriend (Joe) while visiting my sisters in Australia, and decided that I wanted to make the leap across the world to be with him. I now call Melbourne home. 

 What did you want to be growing up? A professional dancer, writer, teacher, doctor.

How would you describe yourself? Naturally introverted, socially extroverted.

How would others describe you? Fun, outgoing, vibrant, intelligent, thoughtful, kind and inspiring.

How would your mother describe you? A go getter and sugar addict.

What do you most value in others? The people I look up to are: hard workers, disciplined, lighthearted, funny, openhearted, kind, passionate, honest, risk takers, big dreamers, and generous. These values are important because I find them inspiring and push me to be a better version of myself.

When did you last cry? What was it over? The last time I cried was when I was at the airport saying goodbye to Joe knowing I wouldn’t see him again for another two months. What can I say, I’m a bit of a hopeless romantic.

Is there anything you preach but don’t practice?  Nope. I’m a pretty honest person when it comes to my shortcomings, or, as lululemon would say; “areas of opportunity”. As a result, I find I’m always sharing and talking about what I am learning myself.

We’ve all done a few things we aren’t too proud of, care to share one? I once stole eggs from a bird’s nest when I was a young kid. I remember feeling bad about it, but I selfishly wanted to raise the eggs myself in my bedroom with hot water bottles. My dreams were to have my own bird family. I ended up dropping both eggs on the floor one day and truly felt like not only a thief, but also a murderer. (This might be the reason why I’ve been vegetarian for the last ten years)

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Favourite meal? Gluten free, vegan waffles with cashew cream from Kumpfert and Kim in Toronto- they are honestly the best waffles I have ever had in my life!

Favourite drink? Chai tea made with almond milk- so warm and comforting.

Favourite book? Tough question because it is hard for me to pick one, I love reading. I’ll go with my most current: Red Rising. Its an epic sci-fi book that has an amazing message about leadership.

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Ok, let’s talk about yoga, how’d you get into it? Through philosophy. I was talking to one of my girlfriends about theories around love, and she said to me, “Duncan, I think you would really like yoga. Come to one of my classes!” I attended her class and had NO idea what I was doing. The owner of the studio who was in the class at the time, eventually came up to me half way through class and said it might be easier if I took my socks off! I remember feeling totally in over my head. And yet, I was immediately hooked by the combination of philosophy discussed in class and the physical practice.

What was the biggest challenge when you first started practicing? I was stiff - tight hamstrings, shoulders, hips, etc. Downward dog felt like torture.

Why do you keep coming back? I keep coming back because on a physical level, yoga always makes me feel better. On a spiritual level, yoga is my way of connecting with the unseen, Spirit; a sacred reminder that there is so much more to this life than what the eye can see and the body can touch.

What would make you skip practice? Not much would make me skip practice other than being sick.

Do you teach? I teach. I teach to learn about others and myself. My teaching style is the same way I practice at home: heavily alignment based, and balances rigorous discipline with lightheartedness.

Other than yoga, what keeps you busy? When training for a triathlon: running, swimming and cycling. During Canadian summers: canoe tripping. Reading also keeps me busy, I love spending hours in the library or book store. And I love spending time with Joe - he adds so much love, spice and adventure to my life.

What advice would you give to someone stepping onto the mat for the first time?  Live in the moment, focus on yourself and have fun!

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Tell us about a time your yoga practice came into play off the mat?  During an Ironman. I had finished the swim and cycling component and was starting to lose control of my body during the run - about ten hours into the race. I felt delirious, nauseous, and was losing control of my bodily functions. The only thing that kept me moving forward was a disciplined concentration on my breath.

What challenges or issues have you experienced being a guy who teaches/practices yoga?Being stiff, and self-judgment around my inflexibility. Although I have gained more flexibility over the years, yoga at the beginning and to this day is a very humbling practice for me due to tightness in my body.

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What does the BOYS OF YOGA project mean to you?

When I heard of BOYS OF YOGA, my first thought was YESSSSS! Haha. Needless to say I was excited. BOYS OF YOGA excites me so much because its all about making yoga more accessible. I’m so happy to be part of a movement that creates safe, fun, empowering environments for people to try yoga.  

If you could spend some time hanging out with some ofthe other BOYS, who would it be, and why?
MJ- he has so many cool projects and goals on the go- so inspiring.
Dustin- I just moved to Melbourne and think he is leading a pretty awesome life here!
Benny- I’m in love with his beard and would love to hear his backpacking adventures.

What’s your favourite pose? Downward Dog. Its my favorite pose to check in because it requires a sensitive balance between strength and softness.

 What pose do you fucking hate? Shoulder stand without blankets- neck pain.

Yoga is Now. Everything starts here in this moment- how liberating!

Your quote or mantra: Teeth to the wind.

Website: www.duncanyoga.ca
Instagram: @duncanyoga
Twitter: @duncanyoga

Interviewed: March, 2017

Photos by @michaeljameswong and property of BOYS OF YOGA Ltd.