Studios

What Yoga is REALLY about…

I have to agree with Devante. Brenna’s Saturday night yoga class at Open Door Yoga in Kitsilano is definitely one of my favorite yoga classes in the city.

I’m a bit worried about saying this now though… I don’t want so many people to start flocking to her classes that it changes them.  The thing about a Brenna yoga class is that it simply is what it is. I love that the classes are uncrowded and unpretentious. It’s not yoga, the trend. It’s yoga in its simplest, purest form. It’s about being in the moment, embracing the moment.

Basically, the best thing about Brenna’s class is what it is not. Brenna’s yoga class is not about trying too hard. It is not about trying to be perfect.

We’ve been to a lot of yoga classes in Vancouver and far too many where the instructor has been beyond obsessed with form. While most instructors say that yoga is an individual journey, and that yoga is for every body, few instructors truly embrace this concept. So many yoga instructors try to define your yoga practice for you. They say they are yogis or yoginis, but they are quite often simply athletes who merely practice yoga. Instead of embracing yoga, they seek to master it, focusing on its form and technique. They push. They correct. They are forever moving around the room, perfecting movements and postures. They tell you how to get the most out of your journey rather than to embrace it. “You need to stretch this way. Or do this. Or put your hand here.”

Is that really how to get the most out of my yoga experience? What about yoga being a personal journey? Don’t I know my body better than anyone else? So long as I am guided through the posture verbally by the teacher, with any safety considerations pointed out, I should be able to take my body to its personal sweet spot during that class. Whatever I can do and feel in that moment is what I can feel and do in that moment. Nothing more, nothing less. That is, after all, the beauty of yoga. It’s all about feeling the moment, seeing where I can go in that moment.

So excuse me if I don’t want to be taken out of my moment by someone else hovering over me, defining my moment for me, telling me how to feel it.  It throws me off focus, gosh dang it! Seriously. Unless there’s a safety concern in the way I’m doing my posture, please just leave me to my moment. And a good teacher knows this.

Besides,  while everyone is on an individual yoga journey, isn’t the idea of practicing yoga in a class about sharing in a yoga practice? So what does it say when the class teacher doesn’t share in the moment?

So, props to you Brenna Coupland for actually embracing the very essence of yoga. Your classes are what yoga is really all about…

P.S. — We did a bit of investigating and Brenna teaches a few weekly classes at Yogacara in Kitsilano as well. She also calls herself the Yoga Bee and has a blog and youtube channel…

(Stay tuned — next week we’ll blog about Vancouver’s best yoga  instructors. Besides Brenna, there are a few worthy of mention here).

My Favorite Yoga Class in Vancouver

The first class we tried at Open Door Yoga a few weeks ago was with Brenna and it was on a Saturday night.  We were at their 16th and Arbutus location, located in the same complex as Meinhardt. I’ve tried quite a few yoga studios in and around Vancouver over the past year – some are awesome, others..well..not so great. But I really love Open Door Yoga!

Open-Door-Arbutus

This particular Saturday night class was one of my favorites for a number of reasons. It seemed like Brenna took into consideration all of our senses: It smelled of wonderful, relaxing essential oils;  the temperature of the studio was nice and warm; class was not full, so there was ample room to stretch around your mat; tea-light candles were lit and placed throughout the room and overhead lights were dimly lit. Also, Brenna has a very calming voice and a patient and peaceful vibe. You can tell that yoga is a true passion for her. The sum of all these parts made for an immensely relaxing yoga session.

If you’ve never tried Open Door Yoga, then now is your chance.  They are offering a $99 unlimited yoga for 9 weeks to new members: http://opendooryoga.bc.ca/. Eleven dollars per week for unlimited yoga! Such a great deal! Bonus: you can use your pass at any of their 3 locations: Main Street, Commercial Drive or Arbutus.

Top 5 Yoga Studios in Vancouver

Vancouver BC has a plethora of fabulous yoga studios to suit everyone’s needs.  Whether you practice Hot, Hatha, or Ashtanga, you’re sure to find the style and studio you love. Vancouver Yoga Review has narrowed down the studios to our top five favorites. Drum-roll please…

5. West Coast Hot Yoga – A pleasant covered veranda is available to hang out and cool down after your class.  Also, they have amazing smelling soap in the bathrooms! Most importantly, they have really great instructors who make everyone feel comfortable – no matter what level.

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4. Moksha – Who doesn’t love free things? This studio offers free parking out front and free apples after you’ve worked up a sweat! Every Friday night, at 8:15pm, they offer a one hour hot yoga ‘karma class’. Donations are accepted (minimum $5.00) and proceeds go to the charity of the month.

moksha

3. Exhale – Their yoga room is surrounded by windows, so you feel like you’re doing yoga in the trees. This sense of being one with nature adds to the zen experience. They also offer an extensive list of dance classes (hip-hop, burlesque, salsa, belly, jazz, swing, nia, etc.) and complimentary almond tea.

exhale

2. Semperviva – This yoga for ‘every body’ company has 4 locations around Kitsilano. This leads to over 115 yoga classes every week! Kits yogis love the convenience of so many classes being offered in their area, almost any time of day. Bonus: no need to lug your yoga mat around, use their yoga mats free of charge.

semperviva

1. YYoga – Six YYoga locations are offered around the lower mainland.  We’ve chosen the downtown YYoga Flow (corner of Burrard and Smithe) as THE best.  Recently opened, this studio is truly a spa-like experience. Some perks of this location are an infrared sauna, a chic and spacious lounge with free wi-fi, a huge change room facility with ample showers, ‘conscious cardio’ classes called YYRide (spin class + yoga), and ‘happiness tea’ – just to name a few!

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Readers of the Georgia Straight agree with us and have ranked YYoga and Semperiva as tied for the #1 spot for Best of Vancouver, 2009.

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