Jason Sharp rocks the crystal bowls (image via naada.ca)

As I was putting on my boots and getting ready to leave Naada Yoga, I overheard a conversation in the vestibule between a guy who was in the class with me and a new person who had just arrived for the next class. She confessed that this was her first time at Naada, to which he replied, “You’re going to love it. This is some of the best yoga in Montreal.”

‘Best’ is highly subjective, and difficult to quantify. But definitely the Saturday afternoon Naada Live classes are among the most original and beautiful yoga experiences in the city. The “live” here refers to not only the yoga, lead with precision, grace and skill by studio co-founder Elizabeth Emberly, but to the accompanying music. This particular Saturday featured Jason Sharp (the other co-founder of Naada) on crystal bowl and harmonium, and another musician on tabla.

Now I know that tabla/harmonium music, crystal bowls and yoga could conjure up images of whacked out hippies, but I assure you this is not the final effect at Naada. The overall aesthetic – refined, minimalist – and lack of patchouli leave no space for yoga stereotypes. The practice itself is an intense flowing asana series set to music, which is not background noise or ambiance, but an intrinsic part of the whole experience. While Elizabeth calls out the postures, the pulsation of the harmonium set the pace for the breath. The music and the verbal instructions are constant reminders to come back to the breath, no matter how challenging the series got.

And it did get challenging. The Naada Live classes are not for the faint of heart or body. We started off with a meditation and a few leg stretches, then kicked right into… navasana (boat pose, an abdominal balance). We gradually progressed though several standing series during the two-hour session, closing with a profound sound meditation. The class had a focused vibe and it’s clear that these are people who’ve been practicing together for months, with consistency and cohesion. Another Naada Live class later in the afternoon is geared towards beginners, and highly recommended for first timers to the studio, even if you’re not new to yoga.

After the practice, we stepped out of the steamy practice room into the spacious and comfortable tea lounge, where fresh brewed tea in delicate handmade cups awaited us (this is a community building custom at the end of every Naada class). The Saturday Naada Live classes are the only ones to incorporate live music, but all of the different levels of Naada classes have some element of sound, whether though recorded drone orchestrations which play in the background or spontaneous meditations with crystal bowls.

Having been open less than a year, Naada has quickly established itself as a foundation in the neighbourhood, offering much more than yoga classes – live performances, film screenings and workshops are scheduled on a regular basis. The studio is a complete community space, satisfying all needs and levels of modern, urban yoga practitioners.

Naada Yoga
5540 Casgrain Ave, Montreal