We are excited to welcome onboard our latest Brand Warrior: Vancouver-based Hiiro Zakè-Sigal Prince, founder of the True Identity Movement Project.
1) Hiiro Zakè-Sigal Prince – what an awesome name!! Tell us the story behind your name?
For the first 15 years of my life I was addicted to video games, specifically Roleplaying Games and my first name Hiiro came from the lead character of a cult classic named Lunar 2: Eternal Blue. It followed a 17 year old boy named Hiro and his feisty red mini dragon Ruby as they escort a Seer named Lucia from the Blue Star. She is sent from her future to prevent Hiro’s universe from being taken over by the Dark God Zophar.
Hiro was spelt with 1 ‘i’ and because in Anime series it was always dubbed with a strong ‘E’ sound, when I legally changed my name to Hiiro I wanted it to phonetically appear in the same way and also 2 ‘i’s’ seemed more impactful.
My middle name Zakè is derived and an homage to my late Brother Zach who lost his life very early at 16 from A.L.L (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia) which is a stage 4 blood cancer. I wanted to honour him and keep his legacy alive and added this to my legal name.
Sigal is my Mother's maiden name and Prince is my Father's. Between these 4 names I am able to carry and tribute my immediate family for the rest of my existence.
A funny aside, my parents thought as the 2nd child they would have a girl and chose Zoë as a name… but once they saw me they chose a different name. Well, they didn't get a daughter but they sure did get a fabulous flamboyant gay son.
2) How did you first get into yoga?
I was quickly realizing when I was in my mid-late teens that the Gay community and culture was never going to be my place or community which I aligned with and knew I sought a more spiritual and conscious environment. I was running track in High School recreationally and it was my escape which eventually led me into discovering Wii Fit and the Yoga portion it had in the game. The poses it had helped my running but I honestly didn't ever resonate or connect with the yoga asana lineage or disciplines.
However, it did lead me to discover more about how I can access a yoga community which I then ended up immersing myself into through YYoga - Canada’s largest chain of Yoga & Fitness studios across British Columbia and Ontario. I began through a free 2 week promotion pass through my local Lululemon store who was partnered with YYoga during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics and our Yoga scene was in its prime then as well.
Yoga for me has and always will be about Mental, Emotional and Spiritual health and wellness, never physical. It only took a few months of exploring different styles of yoga until I stumbled into a Therapeutic Active Restorative class which infused many props including wood dowels and bolsters or balls and straps to aid in facilitation of kinesiology and massage oriented sequencing that I fell in love with everything about it. I also found Yin practice and that was contrasted by vinyasa to have some movement through the stillness.
I brutally damaged my upper thoracic spine and shoulders through too much yang yoga and this only drove my practice more toward the Yin spectrum.
I currently now have a primary practice as a student and teacher with anything therapeutic and more traditional Hatha lineage infused with the biomechanics of Anusara principals weaved with Restorative, Yin and Yoga Therapy. I integrate my knowledge of Trauma Sensitivity and pilates mat and indoor cycling for an interdisciplinary fully embodied experience.
3) What is the yoga scene like in Vancouver?
Constantly evolving and very vinyasa/ashtanga dominant as well as hot whether being Moksha, Bikram based or framed to a studios own interpretation. In the city that is the home base for Lululemon Athletica, Vancouver is considered a mecca for Yoga however it depends on the styles or lineages one is seeking. The main multi-studio brands we are known for are YYoga, Semperviva and Open Door Yoga.
For single studios there is something for every kind of practitioner and one of the cities most unique is a by donation and free Yoga studio called Karma Teachers which is providing classes to those who normally are unable to access it elsewhere.
There's more and more outdoor and by donation community based initiatives in Vancouver and one being Mat Collective which offers many outdoor Summer yoga classes which are all donation based and they just started offering Fall classes as well.
New studios continue opening with their own creative offerings in a more boutique and intimate framework and it's great to see a full spectrum of different approaches to our Yoga community.
4) You have previously battled with chronic depression, PTSD and anxiety. Has yoga helped you to overcome these?
And I still do every day especially Anxiety and PTSD, Yoga has brought me a language and lifestyle that has aided in helping me buffer the chaos and beauty that my mind/heart encounter daily. It has provided me a career, purpose, community and full-time sustainable path to make a difference through my own unapologetically authentic and individual being. I am not exaggerating that I would not be alive right now and typing my reply to this question had it not been for my discovery of the overall yoga lifestyle and discipline and specifically therapeutic+classic restorative, yin and gentle hatha based styles. Although the phrase “yoga saved my life" is a common one, I can justify it full stop.
5) Tell us about the True Identity Movement Project – what does it stand for?
It is a digital representation of who I am, what I do, how I am making it happen as well as it being an accessible resource for anybody else seeking tools/help with their own lives. It is a Movement because I am a forever evolving work in progress and never will be complete as an individual.
It isn't just selling a product with a buy now button. I am here to give and advocate as the role model I never had growing up and have became in order to be that for those after me. It stands for every single person who is on their own path of self-discovery and taking accountability for their own Self, to be their own leader and role model… one that loves their entire being unconditionally.
I utilize yoga as a language and platform for public speaking, mentoring and empowering others, with a keen intention on providing resources and tools for other Men, especially whom identify as Gay, Bisexual, Transgender/sexual. I want to establish a network and community for Men in the same way that there is for Women within our yoga/spiritual communities.
I plan to nurture this vision through public yoga classes, workshops/events, talks, teacher training & mentorship, retreats and other forms of dialogue/resources.
6) Finally, please leave our followers with some ‘Hiiro Prince words of wisdom’
Believe me when I say that I never thought I would be where it is I am in my life right now. Nothing in my lifetime so far has ever been smooth or seamless and had it not been for the incredible loyalty of my parents and key individuals along the way, I wouldn't be alive.
When I lost my Brother, Zach, at 12 years old I knew whatever the future would bring, I was not going to throw my life away regardless the extreme challenges ahead.
Be fiercely resilient and committed to your Self, know that you DO have a voice and that it IS important to be heard. You ARE loved, seen and held even at the times you feel you are absolutely not.
I'm not the person that is going to tell you that everything is alright all the time, it's necessary to honour and acknowledge and process the full spectrum of the lives we live and continue letting go of what no longer serves us.
With a big rainbow unicorn heart, to those who read this, thank you for stopping by and I am always here to connect and share.
Check out Hiiro's Brand Warrior Page here
You can find Hiiro teaching therapeutic gentle yoga, indoor cycling classes and leading his own Restorative Yoga teacher trainings, workshops and yoga+spin mentorship programs in Vancouver.