By Michael Power
A back injury four years ago could have spelled the end of Trish Stratus' professional wrestling career.
It likely would have, she says, were it not for yoga.
At first, Ms Stratus (a Richmond Hill native and longtime resident of the town whose real name is Stratigias) tried physiotherapy to deal with the injury, but got little relief.
A friend had undergone neck surgery and swore the only therapy that helped her mobility afterwards was yoga.
So Ms Stratus signed up for a hot yoga class.
Two-and-a-half months later, after practising yoga regularly, she had dropped the physiotherapy and was back in the ring, ready for action.
"My career was in jeopardy," she says, sitting cross-legged and shoeless on the long couch in the lounge area of the new yoga studio, just south of Vaughan Mills Mall.
She just opened the facility with her business partner and longtime friend, Janette Lynn.
"I don't know if it was from being centred from doing yoga and having those moments to yourself, but my body definitely benefited."
The career she speaks of took her first into fitness modeling before working with the World Wrestling Federation, later re-named World Wrestling Entertainment.
During her tenure in the ring, she was a one-time Hardcore Champion, three-time Babe of the Year and, was also proclaimed Diva of the Decade. She retired in 2006 after nearly seven years in the business. She has also been the host of Canada's Walk of Fame and The Second City's Next Comedy Legend.
After quitting the ring, she and Ms Lynn struck upon the idea of a yoga studio teaching classes in various forms of the discipline.
"Yoga is yoga," Ms Stratus says. "It's just a bunch of moves. But you can put in into different sequences or gear it to different people. And that's when it's called a certain type of yoga."
The two partnered to create a 5,200-square-foot studio, dubbed Stratusphere Yoga, which offers classes in various styles of yoga, including ashtanga (an energetic, athletic form of yoga), hatha yoga (a slower pace) and hot yoga, where a heated room allows for a deeper stretch. A single class at the studio costs $18 and a 30-day, unlimited pass is $160.
The three-room studio features other classes, such as a pilates class, a class called Momma & Me and a restorative yoga class for those recovering from injuries or looking for a lighter workout.
Another class, called Lifestyle, focuses on how to eat properly. Wholistic nutritionists will teach students about topics such as using healthy fats and how to cook with vegetables.
The studio features a lounge with a library of yoga books that Ms Stratus hopes will serve as a gathering place for students at the facility.
In August, the Discovery HD and travel + escape channels will air Ms Stratus' new travel show, also called Stratusphere. In the show, she visits international locations where locals teach her a task, such as paragliding in the Himalayas, that she tries for the first time.
To learn more about her new studio, visit www.stratusphereyoga.com