Not only is Caroline MacGillivray a phenomenal Tantra Fitness teacher but she is a true leader in the Vancouver community. She’s a radio show host, has Masters in Medical Qi Gong, is a yoga teacher (she even teaches bunny yoga) and is the Founder of Beauty Night Society. Beauty Night Society builds self-esteem and changes the lives of women and youth living in poverty through 3 streams of programming: wellness, life skills development and makeovers.
Today, March 8th is International Women’s Day and we’d like to share how inspirational Caroline truly is. This day celebrates the women in our community who are doing great things and Caroline is one of those women. She’s a Vancouver hero who has changed the lives of tens of thousands of people so check out this motivational Q & A with Caroline:
Q: What inspired you to take charge, make a change and create Beauty Night Society?
A: I started volunteering in Vancouver's DTES at a shelter to do research about addiction and survival sex work for a film project I was working on. One night a woman who had experienced trauma came in. She didn't want to eat, speak or sleep. When I asked her what she wanted she said she wanted to feel clean. After she had a shower, I helped her sort through clothing donations for clean clothes. We found a curling iron. Due to injuries, she was unable to curl her hair. I offered to style it for her. She said yes. Afterward, she thanked me for making her feel human. Beauty Night grew organically as more women started asking me to do their hair and makeup. I realized that I could be more effective if I had a team of hair and wellness professionals to offer services. We discovered the makeovers and wellness services were a great way to reintroduce healthy touch to people who have experienced violence. It's been a wonderful way to build community too. It's hard to believe it's been 16 years ago. By the end of December 2016, we have given 60,000 makeovers.
Q: What do you think is your greatest achievement in life and why?
A: I think my greatest life achievement is (most of the time) to meet life with enthusiasm and curiosity. It's led to the exploration of many paths of life. It kept me evolving constantly which helps have a fresh perspective doing the work that I do. It has led me to my first career in musical theatre & film, voice over work to writing for local publications, to Beauty Night, to teaching (at one point) pole dancing, yoga teacher training (full scholarship), aerial yoga and becoming a medical qi gong (Chinese Medicine) therapist (mainly on scholarship). I didn't expect to start Beauty Night until I was in my late 70s and rich and famous from acting. I was lucky to have the opportunity to start before I turned 30. I hope I can hold onto my enthusiasm and curiosity throughout my life and encourage others to explore theirs too.
Q: How did you get into teaching aerial yoga, Sexy Flexy and TNA and how has teaching at Tantra Fitness help you lead and empower women?
A: I love our Tantra Community. I'm so grateful to be part of it. I started teaching aerial yoga at Tantra a few years ago. At the time, my personal life was in shambles. It was a safe space for me to share my skills as an instructor and to heal too. I've made so many friends at Tantra.
I think it is important to create safe spaces for people to connect with their body, mind and spirit. (Yes, I realize I sound like a yogi right now). When I first started teaching fitness and dance classes (excluding offering to teach beginners how to skate in exchange for lessons from my coach when I was 11 years old), I taught pole and sensuous movement. It was 2004 and I was writing an article about pole dancing. One of my classmates who I interviewed had experienced childhood sexual trauma. She found classes a safe space to explore her sensuality that was literally stripped from her by the age of 12. I saw movement as another way to connect back to the body after experiencing trauma. 1 out of 3 women, 1 out of 6 men have experienced sexual violence before the age of 18. Unless someone chooses to share their story, we don't know their history. I think trauma sensitivity is something that should be woven into the fabric of every class taught (and spa services too). Flash forward 13 years later, I love teaching classes like Sexy Flexy, TNA, flexibility yoga, and aerial yoga. I hope to provide safe spaces where students feel safe to explore, play and reconnect with themselves. With the work I do at Beauty Night, teaching helps me reconnect with myself too.
In regards to aerial yoga, I took a class several years ago and decided aerial yoga was one of the types of yoga that I wanted to teach when I completed my yoga teacher training. Similar to pole, it makes me feel like a kid again. As a child, most of us are fearless. We think nothing of hanging upside down on the monkey bars at a playground. Up until 13 years ago when pole and then aerial classes became available, I didn't find many opportunities to physically challenge myself in that capacity. I love watching student's faces light up when they take their feet off the ground and realize they can do it!
The therapeutic benefits of aerial yoga are incredible too. It decompresses the spine, allows the body to get a "deep tissue massage" as we lengthen in certain poses. To quote many of my students, "Best savasana ever!"
Q: Being a strong female leader in the Vancouver and Tantra community, what is the biggest leadership lesson that you have learned?
A: If you are still breathing, you can create change. Whether its big sky dreams or trying not to eat carbs after 6pm, you can do anything you set your mind to! Self-care and a healthy community are two ingredients to being able to create effective change in ourselves and the world around us. I think it's important to do at least one thing each day to nourish yourself. Keep exploring and learning about things you are curious about. See what projects are already out there and see if you and collaborate. Tantra is a wonderful place to explore your curiosity while building your strength, balance, and flexibility.
When you take a class from Caroline you can definitely feel her good vibes. Check out our schedule and reserve your spot in one of Caroline’s classes (they fill up fast because she is AH-MAZ-ING)!
One last thing: Happy International Women’s Day to all of you fabulous women out there in the world. Keep on shining and making a difference!