Anyone who has been to Vancouver knows that it is a very fitness conscious city. In fact, Vancouver was ranked Canada’s healthiest city in 2008 by Best Health Magazine . It is easy to see why Vancouver is Canada’s fittest city, not to mention one of the healthiest cities in North America. On any given day in Vancouver’s Yaletown and Kitsilano neighbourhoods, bicycles, running shoes and, of course, yoga mats are ubiquitous.
So, you may be wondering…what’s the deal with yoga? Who dreamt up this twisty, bendy exercise series anyway?
Yoga has its origins in the Indus Valley (India). Some research suggests that the practice of yoga could be more than 10,000 years old. It was first practiced to help people reach spiritual enlightenment but has recently become popular for its overall contribution to healthy living and weight management. Yoga has also evolved over time into various forms and styles.
The word yoga, in Indian sanskrit, has many meanings, most of which relate to “joining” or “uniting.” This translation is not surprising, considering that yoga is often associated with meditation and, originally, the combination of meditation and movements were meant to unite yogis with their higher selves. Essentially, yoga began as a way to unite the mind, body and spirit.
In 1893, Swami Vivekananda attracted a lot of attention in America when he spoke about the benefits of yoga at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago. However, the number of people practicing yoga remained few and, when practiced in the west, yoga was interpreted as merely a physical practice rather than as a spiritual one.
It wasn’t until Indra Devi made history by opening a yoga studio in Hollywood, in 1947, that yoga became more widely practiced in America. Since then, aided by an increasing number of celebrity followers who have sworn by its benefits, yoga has been sweeping North America. While most North American yoga studios do still focus on the body over the mind, there is an increasing number of studios bringing a spiritual aspect back into the practice.
These days, many celebrities and professional athletes are committed yogis. Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Aniston, Madonna, Halle Barry — to name a few — are often snapped leaving yoga studios. Southern California abounds with yoga studios, as does the Canadian and American west coast in general. In Canada, Vancouver is now home to some of Canada’s most advanced and largest yoga studios.
When they are in town for promotions or filming, celebrity yogis are always impressed by Vancouver’s yoga studios. Quite recently, while in Vancouver filming the latest Twilight movie, Peter Facinelli was snapped leaving a downtown yoga studio. Steve Nash has also made state-of-the-art yoga studios an important part of his new Steve Nash Sports Clubs, in downtown Vancouver and Richmond.
Have you seen any celebrities doing yoga in Vancouver lately?