Yoga West

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!

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

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