Yoga West – A Review

If you have never stepped foot in Yoga West, located in the heart of Kitsilano on West 4th, you quickly will become part of the community that it has made itself.

The storefront offers many typical things found “for sale” in a studio, from books to CD’s to DVD’s to Jewellery, but also includes the fresh smelling Chai Tea that is available for all, and a community setting where whether or not you are there for a class, you are welcome to join & have a seat, a cup of tea and a chat.

The classes are held in the back room of the studio, which when you walk in reminds you of home. With carpeted floors and a fireplace in the corner, it feels like you are sitting in somebody’s living room. Teachers are clothed all in white, and where a turban on their heads, it is said that by wearing white they expand their aura. Teachers reside on a stage at the front of the room and only briefly demonstrate the next Kriya that is in the set that they have choosen. There is no walking around or joining in the class or adjusting students, teachers are merely present to guide you through the Kriya.

Students generally do not use the regular sticky types of mats and the studio has plenty of blankets for you to practice on & to cover yourself up with.

While many students have adapted to the blankets to practice on, the wearing of white etc, don’t feel like you would be left out or awkward if you didn’t, the staff at Yoga West makes everybody welcome whether you are new to the studio, have never practiced Kundalini yoga or have practiced for years. Everybody is welcome.

The classes are very different from one to the next, you never really know what you are going to get. While I love Kundalini yoga, I do sometimes struggle with the classes where you spend 75 minutes moving from one sitting posture to another and find by the end of the class my back is struggling to be happy, however on the opposite side of the spectrum you could have a class where there is no sitting at all. Lets face it, some of the exercises are hard, really hard! For example, stretch pose (Image to the Right) for 3 minutes with breath of fire, I would pay money to see somebody stay up there for three minutes WOW!

The teachers are wonderful and are there to answer any of your questions, the centre has a lot to offer from not only the community feeling, the awesome kundalini yoga but also offers a Gurdwara, following the Sikh tradition, where students, staff and people from the community are welcome to come and raise their level of awareness. Or join them for Kirtan on Sundays, Teacher Training or for the Mens or Women’s Khalsa Camp that is held on their own piece of beautiful property on the Sunshine Coast.

Thank You, Yoga West, for letting me come and explore the studio, try some classes and be a part of the community, even if only for a few days. If you haven’t checked it out, make sure you utilize your Passport to Prana and check out Yoga West, I will certainly be there!

global mala at vancouver’s largest donation based yoga studio.

if you haven’t been to yoga for the people on hastings st. in gastown, you must go.

their schedule features some of the top yogis in vancouver, the space is amazing, and best of all the studio is 100% donation based.

i couldn’t imagine a better place to partake in global mala on a rainy saturday morning than in the warmth and serenity of cofounder and yogi-extraordinaire suzanne slocum-gori (below, left) and the melodic voice of sparrow tiffany brulotte.

suzanne (left) and sparrow (right) after 85 minutes of global mala dedication

global mala occurs every year in conjunction with yoga month on the fall equinox (usually the 19th or 20th of september) and consists of 108 rounds of practice–the most common being sun salutations.

suzanne guided us through 100 A’s, and 8 B’s, an 85-minute ‘moving meditation’ in which we were asked to dedicate 25 salutations to four different areas:  ourselves, our friends and family, the world, and everything in-between.

108 is a daunting number, but the practice proved far more mental than physical (although i did sweat like a yogic beast and my legs are tired).

i started off strong, setting my intentions and moving with my breath until somewhere around number 65, where sparrow’s melodic voice and suzanne’s gental guidance pulled me through and i finished my 8 B’s like a champ.

savasana had never felt sweeter.

go check out yoga for the people and mark your calendars for global mala 2011.

www.yogaforthepeople.ca

201-150 hastings st, vancouver BC

Win A Passport To Prana Card!

We blogged about the awesome card last week. Now, Passport to Prana is offering our readers the chance to win 1 of 3 Passport to Prana cards!

How to enter the Passport To Prana contest:

1. Post a comment below.

2. Or, Tweet following on Twitter: @VanYogaReview @PassportToPrana contest: http://bit.ly/baKjGu

3. If you comment AND Tweet, your name will be entered twice into the draw!

Contest ends September 30th at 12:00pm.

Good luck everyone!

From Semperviva

To be honest, I was nervous at the thought of “reviewing” a yoga studio. I’m 23, only 3 months into yoga, and I was heading to a studio like a movie critic (but not as jaded and bitter). And this was Semperviva Kits Beach no less, the newest expansion studio for a respected community-oriented yoga outfit. It’s not like I was from a bigwig yoga magazine or some newspaper that wielded a mighty stick. Regardless, it was a chance to explore and meet new yogis.

East Window

I must say, I dig the colour scheme and design choice of their logo.

After a bit of transit and walking, which was a little wonky after a 75 minute spin class, I made it to the lovely corner of West 4th and Yew where Semperviva Kits Beach is located. Familiar smells of mat sprays and lavender immediately greeted me as I walked in. Actually, I’ll let some photos do the gabbing for me:

Lounge Area

The common area is spacious and very inviting with the large windows. I wish I had a wide-angle lens.

Gear Wall & Entrance

From inside to out. The events wall is on the right and can be seen better in the video tour.

Community Photo Wall

This here is the photo wall assembled by the community, either of personal practices or to yoga events and retreats held by Semperviva.

And, of course, here’s the video tour guided by Callie Gray! If you can’t tell by the video, she’s bright, chipper and exudes love and passion for the realm of yoga.

The yoga room itself is not what I’m used to what with no ceiling panels to hide the air ducts and pipes and enormous windows lining the East wall. However, without a constricting ceiling plus the enormous windows, you feel like you can expand to wherever you choose. Also, the windows are one-way so pedestrians won’t get to creepily peer in as you practice.

I’d like to thank Callie, Jana, and Jen for accommodating this small-time writer on a drizzly Saturday. Your genuine kindness further fuels my passion for yoga.

Yoga Aid Challenge In Vancouver

For the first time in Canada, Yoga Aid is happening in Vancouver, BC (among other cities) on Saturday, September 18th – at Jericho Park.

The Challenge is a special, 2 hour yoga practice held in hundreds of locations worldwide. The Vancouver event will bring together Vancouver’s leading Yoga leaders including Alli Warnyca, Andrea Spiegel, Daniel Clement, Danielle Mika Nagel, Eoin Finn, Erica Blitz, Kristin Campbell and Nico Luce. Registration from 8.00, the Challenge begins at 9am.

By registering for an event near you, you are helping to create strong communities based on giving. Practicing with some of most influential yogis is an added bonus!

The event is free but the Challenge is to fundraise for their Canadian charity partners:

There’s still time to register! Click here.

Are YOU attending this Saturday at Jericho?

Win Free Show Pass To Vancouver Yoga Conference!

The Vancouver Yoga Conference will be taking place September 30 – October 3, 2010. And the Show will be from October 1 – 3, 2010!

SHOW FLOOR ADMISSION IS $15 FOR ALL 3 DAYS AND INCLUDES:

  • Continuous Yoga Classes in the Yoga Garden
  • Continuous Demonstrations, Workshops and Lectures
  • Over 100 Exhibitors to Enhance and Educate you
  • Hundreds of New Products and Trends to Learn About
  • Live, Love, Laugh, Sample, Sip, Shop, Relax, Restore, Rejuvenate

YOGA CONFERENCE:

  • Individual Class Prices range from $46 – $19836
  • Internationally Renowned Faculty
  • 130 Workshops

SHOW HOURS:

Friday October 1, 2010 ~ 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Saturday October 2, 2010 ~ 10:00 am – 8:00 pm

Sunday October 3, 2010 ~ 10:00 am – 6 :00 pm

Check out our review from last year’s 2009 Yoga Conference in Vancouver.

LOCATION:

Vancouver Convention Centre – Hall A (Under the Sails)

How to enter to win a FREE SHOW FLOOR ADMISSION PASS:

1. Tweet this: @VanYogaReview Win Free Pass to #Vancouver Yoga Show http://bit.ly/aA4Lae

2. Post comment below (include email address so we can contact the winner).

3. If you tweet and post a comment below, your name will be entered twice into the draw.

Contest ends on Saturday, September 18th at 11:59pm.

Good luck!

For more info about the 2010 Vancouver Yoga Conference & Show, visit their website here.

Yoga of Awareness

I was first introduced to Kundalini Yoga during my teacher training at Semperviva, and like Bikrams or Hot Yoga I believe it is an aquired taste, ie. you either love it or hate it. My first impressions were of confusion and what is going on here & this isn’t your standard Warrior I or Warrior II or Half Moon or you name it type of yoga class. The majority of the poses were not what I was used to, and the mantra was just the icing on the cake, what was going on?

Since my first encounter with Kundalini Yoga, I have come to be one of those people that loves it in this “je ne sais quoi” sort of way, being unable to determine what exactly it is that I love.

What is Kundalini Yoga?

Kundalini yoga is a physical, mental and spiritual practice that focuses on the conscious development of both your body & mind. Containing a set of kriyas (physical manifestations of awakening kundalini energy), pranayama and meditative practices designed to heal the body, awaken human consciousness and ultimately deliver a divine spiritual union. It is called the “Yoga of Awareness” because it rapidly develops intuition, self knowledge & sensitivity, which aids in awakening the creative potential that exists in all of us.

What you can expect in a Kundalini Class?

A Kundalini class begins with a tuning in Mantra  followed by a warm-up to stretch the spine and improve flexibility. The class may contain one or two kriyas, including mantra and pranayama exercises, depending on the choice of the teacher, and generally focuses on one specific chakra or area of the body. Teachers typically do not make manual adjustments. The class ends with a meditation, which may be accompanied by the teacher playing a large gong, and/or a closing song.

There are many studios throughout Vancouver that offer Kundalini classes and different styles of teaching Kundalini Yoga including the main traditional Kundalini hub; Yoga West where I have recently begun a week trial in order to get to know the centre, the people, the yoga and the environment. Stay tuned for a review of Yoga West next week.

To read more about Kundalini yoga and its history visit www.3HO.org.

bikram yoga vancouver: a review

i find bikram to be the radiohead of yoga:  people either love it or hate it.  there’s very little middle ground.

since i happen to fall into the former rather than the latter, i couldn’t have been happier sweating buckets on an otherwise damp and dreary monday morning.

i’d been meaning to check out a bikram studio in vancouver for quite a while now, and decided what better opportunity to venture outside my normal yoga routine than a free day off of work for the stat holiday.

tucked away in an unassuming building in the west end,  i was pleasantly surprised when i entered the small and welcoming space that is bikram yoga vancouver.

raymond mah, general manager and yogi, had just finished the class prior and was kind enough to give me a pep talk before i went into my 10 am practice.

the practice itself was not unlike any other bikram class i’d experienced:  the 26 postures are always the same, the heat borderline unbearable, the instructor borderline drill sergeant.

however, hillary was the perfect balance of strict and encouraging, inspiring me to go deeper in poses and to really make sure i got the full benefits of her 90 minutes of instruction.

the studio was also slightly different than the bikram studios i’d experienced in the past:  the space was clean, free of the odd foot smell i’d come to associate with hot yoga, and used a unique flooring made from 100% PVC, the same material used in many yoga mats, instead of the usual carpeting used by most studios.

my only criticism of the studio would be it’s size.  while the actual practice space was plenty large enough, the lobby and locker rooms were small and congested.  with only 2 showers and few amenities i couldn’t realistically see myself showering and getting ready for work should i ever hit up an early morning class mid-week.

ray informed me a larger studio is planned to open on cambie and W. 12th in the upcoming months.  good news for me as this is closer to work and right off the skytrain:  i might just have to become a regular.

bikram yoga vancouver

101-1650 Alberni Street
604 662 7722

www.bikramyogavancouver.com

Yoga Coffee In Vancouver

Yoga coffee, sounds like an oxymoron doesn’t it?! The thought of being jacked up on caffeine and then proceeding to a Yin Yoga class, just seems counter-intuitive.

Searching for a new morning brew, I purchased a bag of Ethical Bean ‘Mellow’ at London Drugs – it was on sale for only $7.99! (Broadway & Yew location has lots in stock.) The packaging includes a picture of a woman in sukhasana:

Mellow Medium Roast
Ommm. Serenity Now. Medium body, nutty aroma and a sweet brightness. Stirring memories of hazelnuts and caramelized sugar.

It actually IS very mellow, and has low acid. Their new bags have a zip-lock seal for freshness. Love this.

Have an iPhone? Download their free app and scan the emark to receive information about the specific beans in the bag you purchased.

The first time I tasted Ethical Bean was at the downtown Costco while they were offering samples of their ‘Lush’ coffee.  I was sold. Ethical Bean roasts their beans right here in Vancouver, BC. Anytime I have a chance to make my purchase Fair Trade, organic and local – I jump on it. This company creates environmental initiatives to help out in our local community and those of their coffee growing partners.

Namaste to Ethical Bean 🙂

Really? Ganja Yoga?

I woke up to hear about this on the radio this morning and all I can say is REALLY? WOW!

Ganja Yoga Combines Marijuana & Meditation
Excerpts Taken From the Globe & Mail

“As the light of pot smoke dissipates in the Downtown Toronto living room, the ganja yoga session begins.

“When you’re high, you can focus better on your breath,” says Dee Dussault, who runs a monthly session of “cannabis-enhanced yoga” at her home dubbed Follow Your Bliss.

“ Yoga and marijuana, together… It’s like putting salt on your food. It’s just a little enhancement.”— Tanya Pillay

She says smoking marijuana in small doses before a yoga class also makes students more receptive to the poses and philosophies behind the activities. “For some people, it makes them uninhibited and open to the idea of the heart chakra, for example.”

Heart chakras aside, ganja yoga has the THC whiff of being the latest yoga fad, following on the heels of hot yoga, circus yoga, pre- and postnatal yoga, acro yoga (acrobatics), even hip-hop yoga. While cannabis has been deeply entwined with spiritualism over the centuries, some yoga practitioners say that a pure body is ideal for the exercise and that smoking pot could cause an unwieldy imbalance. As one online-forum commenter opined: “Why should we try to purify our body and soul through yoga if we later intoxicate it again with marijuana or other substances?”

Funny, had a look at the website and no where is it listed on there, that I could find, anyways. See if you can find it, www.followyourblisstoronto.ca. What do you think, would you attend a Ganja Yoga Class? Come to think of it there has got to be one in Vancouver with our famous “BC Bud”.

Don’t Step On My Yoga Mat

One of my pet-peeves during yoga class is when people occasionally step on my yoga mat. Normally, it doesn’t bother me that much, but when it happens with sweaty feet during a hot yoga class at Bikram’s or West Coast Hot Yoga-it grosses me out!

Here’s an excerpt of a hilarious list of other things you should NOT do during your yoga class:

  1. Cultivate Ujjayi breath that rivals Darth Vader. Did I sign up to have phone sex with you? I don’t think so. I don’t need to feel like I’m on the wrong end of a prank phone call as I attempt to quiet my mind.
  2. Om, Sat Nam, etc. like your life depends on it. A yogi/ni is not made by the volume of his or her chanting. I promise. There’s no door prize for being the loudest Om-er.
  3. Step on the mats of others. If you’re a foodie, think of it as a dinner plate. If you’re religiously or spiritually inclined, imagine those mats are sacred texts. You wouldn’t put your foot in either spot, would you? This kind of disrespect could get you an ass kicking in a place you’d least expect it.

For the rest of Y is for Yogini‘s top 10 list click here.

Tell us your yoga class pet-peeve in the comments below 🙂

Passport To Prana In Vancouver, BC

Attention all yogis in Vancouver and the lower mainland!

Vancouver Yoga Review would like to bring to your attention an amazing company offering an outstanding deal for yoga enthusiasts:

Passport to Prana is the “original multi studio yoga pass” offering yogis a chance to try out various studios around their specific city for only $30, per promotional year!

Passport to Prana is a Toronto, Ontario based company built on the intention of joining yoga studios as a community instead of competitors. We love this concept 🙂

Your Passport to Prana card entitles you to one yoga class at each of the participating yoga studios in your city, beautiful Vancouver, BC. They also offer passports in Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Victoria, and Winnipeg.  Also, various cities in the USA.
This is by far the best yoga value in town. Passport to Prana wants people to have ample incentive to expand their yoga horizons and try different studios around their city. This way, yogis might even find the ‘perfect’ studio for them that they might not have previously discovered.

Considering most drop-in classes at Vancouver yoga studios are anywhere from $15-$20, this card is a fantastic deal and a great way to gift your love of yoga to others.

To purchase your card today, visit their website: http://passporttoprana.com/order2.php

For more information, refer to their FAQs page.

Happy Yoga Month

September is Yoga Month! In order to bring awareness to the different styles and the benefits of a yoga practice, September is designated Yoga Month to help build awareness.

Generally these type of awareness building initiatives tend to be only focused on the good ol’ USA, however, there are lots of studios events happening in our own backdoor to help YOU take advantage and celebrate Yoga Month. Listed below are some of the ones I have found:

Here is a clip about the National Yoga Month from 2009, from the founders:

What are you doing to celebrate National Yoga Month, perhaps its a personal 30 Day Challenge for the month of September or taking advantage of some of the FREE yoga listed above or maybe you are hosting your own events to celebrate National Yoga Month, or maybe you are finally taking that friend to experience a yoga class with you, whatever it is; tell us, we want to hear how you are celebrating!

Happy National Yoga Month!

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