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From Asana Upward: Brian Carew’s journey as a Movement and Yoga instructor

What would you say the biggest adversity in your life has been?

As a child, I never felt like a proper “boy”. I had no interest in team sports and was very uncomfortable with the boy culture of making fun of each other at each other’s expense. I was fascinated in establishing a deeper human connection at the ages of as little as 5-6 years old. The ways in which my peers reacted, which was often discomforting from not understanding my intentions, left me feeling isolated and misunderstood, but still very inquisitive to my own desires for connection.

Where did you grow up? What was your favourite + least favourite part about it?

I grew up in both the interior and west coast of British Columbia, Canada. As a child, I spent so much time outside, and as I reflect back on my childhood, those moments amongst the beauty of nature had a very meaningful and profound effect on my ability to find stillness and love for nature and the earth now. In all honesty, I can’t say there was a least favourite part. I very much enjoyed, and still enjoy where I grew up. I’ve experienced all of the seasons in full effect. I’ve explored great forests and mountain ranges. I’ve swum in the Pacific Ocean and dived into glacier runoffs. Looking back I don’t think I was aware of how blessed I was to be born and raised in this Beautiful province.

What was your family dynamic like as a kid? (parents, siblings, did you travel? etc.)

My family dynamic was difficult as a child. My parents split when I just turned 4, leaving my mother and 2-year-old brother alone. My little brother took the split badly, whereas I sought out to my mother in an aim to be her support system. These actions lead to me being labelled as the “good” kid and my brother as the “bad”. His identity became a victim, where mine became the provider. Both came at a cost. Then at the age of about 8, my soon to be step dad walked into the picture. At first he seemed great and I placed a lot of my trust in him, but after time I saw his true colours, and unfortunately, those true colours were drug addiction fuelled by insecurity and self-doubt. After 10 years of dealing with him, he was out of the picture. By that time I had just about finished university and could not wait to move out and live on my own. From the age of 14, I can recall very distinctly seeing a fork in my path ahead. I could live in my very poisonous and destructive home, and risk not ever having an education, or I could stick out this non-optimal living situation, get my education, and then be set-up to succeed on my own. I am glad I chose the latter, as I am currently a registered respiratory therapist, and this career has supported my financial freedom, and ability to peruse my passions.

My birth father was seldom around when I was a kid. When we started to form a relationship and start seeing each other around the age of 13, things were initially very rough. We would get into physical altercations and verbal fights. But, in the past 2 years, we have come to really understand each other and form a healthy relationship. My family wasn’t one to travel much as we never had the money. I went to Disneyland once when I was 7, but that was it for family vacations. Luckily I had friends who would often take me on their family excursions. Particularly one good friend named, Riaan. I spent so much time with him and his family, camping, skiing, and exploring the outdoors.

Did you play sports when you were younger? If so, which ones?

I played football, soccer, and rugby as a kid, but I only really enjoyed playing Rugby. I excelled in the game of Rugby, but the macho mentality of the sport, and my coach, eventually would make me lose interest.

What got you into a movement-based lifestyle? Anything in particular?

When I was a teenager I started weightlifting, and once I opened that door fitness, health, and aesthetics become a heavy part of my identity. As a child, I had always been fascinated by things like gymnastics and dance, but I never had the opportunity to explore them. As time went on, and I continued my pursuit to aesthetic excellence, I came to realise I wasn’t really happy with what I was doing. I would see dancers and gymnasts and tell myself “that is what I truly want to do”. So during the last year of university education, I made the transition from traditional weight lifting into bodyweight exercises and yoga. From there, I had no idea how deep of a rabbit hole I was about to go down. Eventually, I started to see that there is no single discipline that I wanted to focus on. I wanted bits and pieces of them all. I looked to movers like Ido Portal for inspiration, who I was also heavily influenced by. Over time, I have come to realise movement needs no definition and it is a form of physical and mental therapy for me.

Canada is one of the most beautiful countries for outdoor exploration (in my opinion). Do you have a favourite area to visit?

I would have to agree with you, haha. Yes, some of my favourite spots are Squamish and whistler, which provide an array of forest and mountains to explore.

What do you think about vulnerability? (is it necessary, healing, ridiculous, cliche, etc.)

Great question. I believe there is a usage and also a downfall to all things in life. Vulnerability is no different. Personally, I have found that offering vulnerability in the form of sharing my fears, and what I currently battle emotionally, offers a gateway for trusting connections – be that in person or online. Most people these days are afraid of looking stupid, or getting hurt, thus by showing them I have clear faults and things I am working on, they feel less urge to keep their guard up. I also believe it can be a powerful and healing process as there the process of speaking our fears and insecurities out loud allows us to see them in a different way, as opposed to letting them swim around in our mind. I believe this process of sharing vulnerability can be used as a means to detach from the potentially identifying setback. The flip side is sharing vulnerability as a means for validation and attention.

Nothing is necessary, but I there am benefits to be found in any process or action. I strongly believe that we determine the worth and trajectory of our life with the fortitude of our minds and ability to gather internal locus of control. Our relationship to the universe is that we are a direct expression of it, and from a long lineage of expansion and growth, we are it! With that in mind, our contribution and trust in our ability to create and manifest that which we wish to create and accomplish make it so.

Do you have a particular “most embarrassing moment”?

Hmmm, nothing particular comes to mind. But, when I was a child, I was very sensitive. I honestly cried a lot. And in hindsight, it was over little things. I can recall someone saying I looked like Elvis when I died my hair black in grade 5 and it truly bothered me and got me really worked up. I also balled my eyes out when the first time I placed my mouth on a clarinet and the only sound that came out was a pathetic *Sqweeeek*. I now look back on these memories and smile.

Do you spend a lot of time involved in various communities (yoga, acro, work, movement, travelling for workshops, nutrition, etc.) - what are some of the biggest advantages of being involved in these?

I believe that investing in the community is one of the pillars of a happy human. My main objective in moving to Vancouver after I finished the Respiratory Therapy program was to find friends and companions in the yoga/community. That goal has been and continues to be one of the most rewarding decisions of my life. When you invest in people, they offer you the same. So, being involved in these communities has offered me opportunities to teach, travel, and of course progress my own movement practice. Furthermore, investing my time in these communities has offered me a mirror into myself. Time and time again, I have been able to see my growth with the help of the community.

Nowadays, networking is by far one of the most powerful tools in your disposal. And this applies to all professions and practitioners. As my community web has grown, I am continually approached with more opportunities to travel, teach, connect, and learn. I have come to learn that in order to accomplish our dreams we must see the necessity in allowing your community to help you. Knowing your purpose and trajectory is, of course, vital, but allowing others to support you in that path is just as much an integral ingredient. For me, I see my dreams and intentions unfolding and becoming more and more real as a result of these communities and the time I’ve spent to allow myself to grow in them.

What is your main gig for work?

Currently, my main gig, and main source of income, is working as both a Resource Respiratory Therapist at an extended care facility on the UBC campus, and working as abedside/acute care Respiratory Therapist at Vancouver General Hospital. I also teach yoga and body movement privately and make some income via online marketing and campaigning.

Do you have any short + long-term goals to be more involved in the movement community?

Currently, I have the intention of investing more travel for both movement education and teaching. I recently went to Bali at the end of summer to meet with a collective of movers, all with various backgrounds, and it was the most insightful, fun, and powerful trip/experience I have done to date. I would like to surround myself with like-minded individuals who are interested in progressing their own personal practice, while also offering teachings, workshops, and immersion. I feel as though this will lead me to live outside of Canada for some time, and eventually take a leave of absence from my profession as a respiratory therapist.

Additionally, I acquired a large sponsorship from one of the main mountain equipment companies in Canada, named MEC. I want to create content with them and start exploring outdoors and investing some of my time into an outdoor-based movement practice. I am a novice camper and trekker, but I feel that many city dwellers can relate to my position, and I can offer them insight and inspiration as I learn to explore the outdoors.

What are some things that not many people know about you? (hidden talents, crazy stories, etc.)

In light of sharing vulnerability, most people don’t know that I have suffered from body dysmorphia for about 10 years, which resulted in 3 or so years of binge eating and 1 year of bulimia. I have had a very difficult time feeling confident in my body ever since I was a teenager, and it’s taken me a very long time to establish a healthy relationship with food. It’s a relationship I am still very much working on. I share this as a means to inform people that things are not always as they appear on the outside. I know many people can easily look to my post and displays of movement flow, arm-balances, and inversion and think that I am completely content with my body and that I have id made. That is not the case. I very much struggle with this, but I am healing and learning to find love in these dark areas.

Most people also don’t know that I have been married. Yep, I was married right after my 21st birthday. The marriage lasted for 3 years, and we split because we had such different life interest. I was becoming increasingly obsessed with yoga and movement. It’s all I wanted to spend my time on. I know this wasn’t fair for my wife. I didn’t want to drag her along while I perused my dreams and aspirations. I expressed this to her and we made the decision to split. The good news we are still very good friends ‘till this day.


Funny story actually. And I believe this is good to share as it shows how persistence and determination is an essential part of any journey.

When I first reached out to OHMME I was denied the capacity to become an ambassador. They were incredibly polite but direct and honest. They were interested in Male Yoga Teachers. So I set out a goal and intention of getting my 200hrs, growing my IG account, and reaching out to OHMME again in the near future. During the year 2017 things in my life changed drastically. I took my first 200hr YTT in the spring of 2017 and soon after I reached out to OHMME again with my desires to be one of their ambassadors and they accepted. Later that year, I was invited to partake in another 200hr YTT in Bali, and from that teaching, I was invited to return to take a 300hr in Peru. OHMME has supported me in not only becoming a registered yoga teacher but also in giving me the space to express myself and my movement practice to my likings. And this is a huge part of why I like OHMME. OHMME represents a company and brand that is passionate about more than just creating clothing; they are here to support movers of all backgrounds and disciplines. They have proven this to me by building a personal connection through our conversations, providing me with a voice to express my practice authentically, and by connecting me to other movers and practitioners of yoga.

Tagged with: Yoga

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