Bavani Sivananda: Turning wounds into wisdom
By Abisha Sooriyathas
Posted on January 10, 2022
On top of being a self-described spiritual seeker and belly dance enthusiast, Bavani Sivananda is a holistic nutritionist, certified yoga teacher, and a culinary nutrition expert. Although her long list of titles gives a brief glimpse into who she is, they only scratch the surface of her story.
Bavani grew up in a small village in northern Sri Lanka during the height of Sri Lanka’s civil war. After her dad was brutally tortured by the Indian army in December of 1989, Bavani’s parents began fearing for the wellbeing of their only daughter. Between her father’s critical condition and the lack of support they received from extended relatives, Bavani’s parents realized they needed to get their daughter to safety. This opportunity came to them in a marriage proposal which would allow Bavani to immigrate to Canada and start a new life for herself.
In 1991, when she was just a month shy of 18 years old, Bavani arrived in Canada without her family. By 19 years old, Bavani was married and working on completing her education in Canada. Because of her lack of academic records to prove her completion of high school in Sri Lanka, Bavani had to be tested upon arriving in Canada to discern which grade she would be put into. About this experience, Bavani said, “Learning to speak English fluently was the hardest thing. Being an introvert didn’t help either.”
The language barrier not only affected Bavani’s education, but also her social life. “At school, kids ignored me because I didn’t speak English,” Bavani said. “They would laugh or giggle behind my back.”
Naturally, this—along with other culture shocks—made it difficult for Bavani to feel as though she fit in. Luckily, this did not hold her back. Bavani gave school her all and graduated high school and a 3-year computer programming course at Humber college. By 1998, she had landed her first IT job right after graduating college.
In 2006, after the birth of her second child, Bavani made the rewarding decision to quit her career and become a full-time mom. At this time, she knew that she would not return to the IT field when she did choose to return to work.
When she began experiencing digestive issues (namely, Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and her son began experiencing eczema, her intuition told her to enter the health and wellness field. In 2010, when her son enrolled in kindergarten, she returned to school to study holistic nutrition. At this time, Bavani also began doing a diploma course in Yoga at Annamalai Canada campus in Scarborough, Ont. Talk about an expert multi-tasker!
Bavani began applying what she learned throughout her studies to her daily life and was amazed to see some of her chronic health conditions disappearing. It was through these changes that Bavani started her own holistic nutrition and yoga practice that is based in Markham, Ont. She is the founder of a 12-week online nutrition program called iControlIBS, where she offers nutritional counselling, coaching, and yoga classes to individuals who are suffering with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Bavani said, “My business was born out of an inspiration from my own health and life transformation, as well as my son’s health.”
When asked about what drives and motivates her, Bavani said, “Being useful to others and making a positive impact in people’s lives—at least in one person’s life—has been a fire burning within me since childhood.”
Bavani’s desire to help others is also connected to her spiritual journey. In 2015, she embarked on a quest of finding a deeper aspect of Yoga and underwent a 5-month intense training process in Classical Hatha Yoga. This process has allowed her to develop more awareness about life, existence, and what truly matters in the brief time we have on this earth.
Regarding Yoga, Bavani said, “Yoga has been a game changer in my life for many reasons, including giving me the ability to turn wounds into wisdom, and overcoming certain limitations, compulsions, and self-limiting beliefs.”
As for her experience in Canada, Bavani said that despite the subtle discrimination that she experienced, she is, “absolutely grateful that Canada has welcomed [her] into this great country.” Specifically, she is grateful for the ample amount of choices that exist in Canada in regard to education and career, and the stable life she has been granted as a result. After growing up in an environment in which she experienced a constant threat to her existence, Canada has provided a safe haven for Bavani and many other newcomers.
When asked about any advice she has for newcomers who wish to find success in Canada, Bavani had many words of wisdom. “You are unique just like anyone in this existence. Strive to be the best you can be, not better than somebody else or the best in the world—that is sickness. It is important to know both your strengths and your limitations. Accept who you are and where you are in your personal growth right now.”
In addition, Bavani highlights the importance of striving for success with others. “Get help if you need assistance in succeeding. There are many people who are willing to help! Never struggle alone.”
To read more about Bavani Sivananda, visit her website at https://www.bavanisivananda.com.