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Okay, so my little blog savasana is almost over… I’ve enjoyed a lovely and relaxing time in British Columbia. No hammocks, but lots of hot tubs! While holidaying in the sweet seaside city of Victoria, I got myself a little Passport to Prana and had a few yoga adventures in between lazing in my auntie’s garden and hanging with old friends. Here is my wee introduction to the Victoria yoga scene…
West Side Yoga ~ Friday morning flow class: I never know what to expect when a class is listed as “flow.” This one, at a sweet little neighbourhood studio in the decidedly untrendy Esquimalt area, was a pleasant, relaxing surprise. I loved the community feeling in this class, as the teacher seemed to know everyone in the class and she warmly welcomed new faces. Also, since this studio was just down the street from Quebecois fast food restaurant, La Belle Patate (The Beautiful Potato), I was able to stop in for a poutine after class (feeling a little homesick for La Belle Ville).
Moksha Yoga Victoria ~ Sunday afternoon Hot Flow class: The Victoria chapter of the Moksha Yoga franchise offers up a pretty standard selection of hot yoga classes and has the clean, modern feel of other Moksha studios. I have to admit that “hot flow” isn’t really my yoga scene; however, after a week of eating a steady diet of potato salad and Jell-o at my auntie’s house, I was in need of a workout. This Sunday afternoon class provided just that, and I felt the gelatin and Miracle Whip ooze out through my pores. Also, I have to say that a sunny Sunday afternoon is the perfect time to avoid the sweaty masses ~ there were only 8 people in the class, and the room was spacious and relaxed.
Moksana Yoga Center ~ Monday morning S.A.Y. Yin class: Moksana is a beautiful studio in Victoria’s historic Fan Tan Alley, and I’ve practiced here on previous visits to Victoria, so it was good to come back. After burning off my processed food diet, swimming in the ocean and hiking through the many trails around Victoria, I was in need of some Yin release. This class did the job. Apparently, S.A.Y. stands for Self-Awakening Yoga (but isn’t all yoga self awakening?). The class felt like a regular Yin class to me, and I didn’t get a sense of what makes the S.A.Y. methodology different from other systems. But my calf muscles and hip flexors sure felt awakened afterwards.
The Yoga Studio ~ Tuesday morning mixed class: I trekked outside of Victoria to the seaside town of Sidney for this yoga class with Jeannie, a firey lady in her 60s with a big laugh and big spirit. I knew that it would be worth the journey when I saw on her website that she had studied with Swami Radha at Yasodhara Ashram (which is where my yoga roots are also based). The Yoga Studio is in a cozy space (with a black and white checkered floor, rather than hardwood) above a Greek restaurant and across from a fish n’ chip shop. This down-to-earth location suited the Iyengar-based class, which was tailored perfectly for the 15 or so white-haired students. After class, we drank tea and Jeannie told stories about her rebellious spiritual journey. I wish I could have gone for lunch with the ladies, but I had to get back to the city for more Jell-o with my own auntie.
So that was all the yoga I could fit into my full schedule of hanging times in the Garden City. For future reference, the Yellow Yogi is a wonderful resource for all things yoga in Victoria. And now, I’m feeling inspired to resurrect my Passport to Prana journey in my own city…
The latest stop on my Passport to Prana adventure takes me way out of my zone, into the Quartier Villeray (a neighbourhood about 20 blocks north of where I live). So not only was L’espace – Fanou Lanciault a new studio, but its location was entirely new to me.
The studio is on the second floor of an industrial building on St Laurent Boulevard. It’s open, spacious and clean, and looks out over Jarry Park. The name of the studio, Fanou Lanciault, is actually the name of the founder and primary teacher, and she just happened to be teaching the all levels Wednesday morning class that I attended.
Fanou is trained in the Kripalu tradition, so the class was relaxed and deep – though by no means easy or gentle. Fanou herself was definitely the highlight of the class. She has a bright and sparkling personality which shone through the whole room. Her acting background came through in her expressive way of teaching. We did a lot of sighing and she frequently broke out in a hearty and contagious laugh which was even bigger than her personality. She also seemed connected to her students, who were all regulars.
While there were a couple of other anglophones in the class, all of the instruction was in French (with the occasional detail in English when I was doing the completely wrong thing). I also learned a new anatomical term: l’aisselle, which means ‘armpit.’
L’espace – Fanou Lanciault
7755 St. Laurent Blvd, Suite 201B
Oh dear, I’m getting behind on my Passport to Prana requirements! I’ve been going to classes, but haven’t had a chance to write about them ~ so I’m going to double up here. Last week I went to a class at Aloha Yoga, and the week before I went to Centre Kinèsphere. I’d only been to Aloha once, and I’d never been to Kinèsphere, and both studios were outside of my neighbourhood. So this adventure is actually starting to feel like an adventure, as I venture out of my comfort zone and into new territory!
These studios are at opposite ends of the yoga studio spectrum: Aloha promises “traditional yoga,” in a small and cozy street level space, whereas Kinèsphere is a contemporary studio, offering yoga along with Pilates, Feldenkrais, and lesser known modalities such as “Gyrotonic/Gyrokinesis” and “Wuji.”
First up: Centre Kinèsphere, where I went to a lovely Wednesday morning class with the charming Marie-Daphne (who looks like a yogic Betty Paige). The schedule promised a “Vinyasa Hatha” class, although she led us through a non-flowing practice, gentle yet focused with a Kripalu flavour. Although the class took place in a warm and bright yoga room looking over Avenue Mont Royal Est, it was surprisingly quiet. This studio was one of four in this open-concept facility, which had a loft-like feel. Read the rest of this entry »
Hot yoga is the wild child of modern yoga. It’s scoffed at by traditionalists, criticized by the medical community, and yet revered by practitioners. It’s also wildly popular, and its popularity continues to grow.
And the latest stop on my Passport to Prana adventure takes me out of my neighbourhood and down The Main to Moksha Yoga Montreal ~ one of the best-known studios in the city, sporting a full roster of classes and notoriously crowded rooms. The studio is part of the Moksha Yoga franchise, which has 35 locations throughout Canada, the US (in Kentucky and Chicago), Trinidad and Switzerland. Moksha is co-founded by Ted Grand, a former Bikram devotee who created his own style of hot yoga with a less rigid structure (not the patented 26 posture series) and a commitment to environmental/social action.
From a selection of Moksha, Power Flow, Yin, and Ashtanga classes, I opted for a 10 am Moksha class on a bright Thursday morning. The differences between the styles appears to be subtle, and apparently the Moksha series “consists of 40 poses practiced in a heated room designed to promote openess through your hips and strength through the upper body while detoxifying your entire body. Both standing and seated poses are practiced, giving a balanced cardiovascular workout.”
Now, I have to admit that I was going into this class trying to keep my biases at bay. My previous attempts at doing hot yoga have left me hot and bothered. I’ve been distracted by Type A personalities, sweating and puffing and proving themselves, and annoyed by aggressive teachers who push and push. In my past experiences, I had seen more of a focus on a physical workout than spiritual development. Read the rest of this entry »
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. Read the rest of this entry »