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Kathy Kennedy gets sonic at Naada Yoga on Nov 28.

It must have something to do with the end of the year and focusing intentions, but there is so much yoga-related stuff happening in Montreal in the next little while! So much that I couldn’t resist gathering it all up into one spot. Montreal yogis are making clothes, DVDs, sounds, DIY eco products and literary masterpieces. Get out and appreciate some of it!

Yoga-à-Porter Grand Opening (Thursday, Nov 25 7:00 – 9:00pm) – A beautiful new boutique and studio space is opening up on chic Laurier West and they’re celebrating with “bubbles and bites.” Their CHARLIE*SATTVA line is designed and made in Montreal, and they also carry an assortment of organic and eco yoga clothes. Boutique Yoga-à-Porter, 100 Laurier Ave West.

Sonic Meditations: Kathy Kennedy Workshop and Performance (Sunday, Nov 28 2:00 – 4:00pm) – This free workshop is an amazing opportunity to explore vocal improvisations with sound artist Kathy Kennedy. Make noise, improvise, sound out in a collaborative space. The workshop will also feature a performance by Ensemble Lingualabial and Joane Hétu. Naada Yoga, 5540 Casgrain Ave.

Writing the Body: A yoga+writing workshop (Sunday, Nov 28 12:30 – 2:30pm) – I (yes, me!) will be co-teaching this workshop with my friend, Adriana Palanca. Explore the relationship between yoga and writing. Using specific postures and reflections, we will discover how yoga can open your creativity on the page, as well as how writing can improve your yoga practice. Ashtanga Yoga Montreal, 372 Ste-Catherine West, Suite 118.

Yoga Flo for the Earth DVD launch party (Wednesday, Dec 1 6:00 – 8:00pm) – It’s a launch party with a twist, as all attendees will actually do the practice on the instructional DVD, lead by Jivamukti teacher Jennifer Maagendans. Luckily, there will be veggie treats afterward! Purchase the DVD and one dollar of each sale will be donated to Équiterre (a Montreal organization promoting environmentally and socially responsible choices). Centre Luna Yoga, 231 St Paul West, Suite 200.

DIY Body Care Workshop (Sunday, Dec 12 1:00 – 4:00pm) – Looking ahead a couple of weeks, the sweet folks at ahimsa yoga will be hosting a workshop to make wholesome stuff for bodies, just in time for the holidays. Make some toothpaste, hair rinse, personalized oil blend for the face/body, or deodorant. $35, all ingredients supplied. ahimsa yoga, 5369 St Laurent Blvd, Suite 240.


The lovely space at ahimsa yoga (image via

On a chilly autumn afternoon, a small group of yoga enthusiasts gathered in the cozy ahimsa yoga studio, with a pot of tea and a computer. Inspired by last month’s Town Hall Meeting in Toronto, we planned to listen to the conversation and see what insights it could spark within our small group. There were four of us: three yoga teachers (myself, Miranda, and Jordan, who is also a massage therapist) and a bodyworker (Nadia).

We actually ended up listening to about 20 minutes of the 2.5 hour Toronto conversation – we had to keep hitting pause and talking amongst ourselves. Each comment on the audio recording lead to a counter comment (sometimes agreeing, sometimes not) from one of us, and these comments spiraled into a discussion. Here are some of the threads that emerged during our time together:

  • of the three yoga teachers in the room, none were certified with the Yoga Alliance. We also weren’t certain about the role of the Canadian Yoga Alliance.
  • it’s apparent that not every person who signs up for a YTT wants to “be” a yoga teacher. But if a person wants to deepen their knowledge of yoga, why are yoga teacher training programs one of the few options? How can there be more avenues for informal transmission of knowledge? And more than by-donation asana classes ~ how can people access classes for yoga philosophy or anatomy or history?
  • is it right that YTT grads can start teaching and making money right away, without ever teaching as an act of service? (Of course, there was some debate about this, since there are probably more grads who end up never teaching a single class than recent grads making a comfortable living.)
  • how can yoga students be empowered? How many students know what kind of yoga they’re practicing and have the confidence to ask their teachers about their skills and qualifications? Read the rest of this entry »

The solstice sun peeks above east Montréal & the St Laurent River.

I’ve been reading the blog posts and dispatches from the Yoga at the Great Lawn event in NYC. The largest gathering of yogis ever (10,000 of ’em) also turned out to be the shortest, as the event was rained out after the first few downward dogs. From what I’ve seen from various blog posts and comments, some people were grateful for the brief practice, some were frustrated with the long lines and poor communication, and others were angry that they didn’t get the promised free Gaiam mat (which was nicely branded with the JetBlue logo). Some saw it as a lesson in impermanence, others saw it as a divine retribution for an overly ambitious plan to set a World Record.

By taking yoga out of the studio and into the elements, I also learned an important lesson this week

On the morning of the Summer Solstice (June 21), I met up with a crew of yogis from the neighbourhood at 4:30am and walked in silence to the top of Mount Royal, the iconic mountain for which Montréal is named. We got to the lookout point just as the sun started to rise and we unrolled our mats. Still silent, each of us began our own individual practice: sitting in meditation, moving through surya namaskara, standing in tadasana. The atmosphere was contained and connected, reverent and focused.

Until a drunk man showed up and started ranting. His appearance caused a little ripple through our crew, and the guy next to me joked, “Is this the yoga teacher?” But we all kept our attention focused on our individual yet collective practice. The man cracked open a bottle of beer and continued ranting, seemingly trying to get our attention. He ranted about karma, God, Allah. He made a couple of comments that elicited a few chuckles ~ “I have to pee. Why don’t I pee when I have to pee? I don’t know!” and “I don’t understand how you people communicate!!” Mostly, we kept focused on our practice, avoided responding, and maintained our silence. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s that time of year again – the fourth annual Yoga Mala event will be happening on Sunday, May 30 in Parc Jeanne Mance (at the corner of Duluth and Esplanade). Montréal yogis will come together to salute the sun 108 times in the name of service. This year, all funds raised will be contributed to Le Garde-Manger Pour Tous, a non-profit organization which distributes meals to underprivileged schoolchildren in and around Montréal, educates adults about healthy eating skills, and provides employment and integration programs. In short, a totally worthy and yogic cause!

The event, which was initiated by seva superstar Dawn Mauricio, will feature 9 Montréal-based teachers in a range of traditions (see the whole list here) who will guide participants through 108 sun salutations. Why 108? A mala, a string of beads used for meditating, praying and chanting mantra in the Hindu and Buddhist traditions, has 108 beads on it and the number is highly significant in both traditions. Among the multitude of reasons this number is important: 108 is the number of Upanishads, the number of names of the Goddess, and the number of paths to God. The Yoga Mala website lists a whole bunch of other theories and beliefs. Whatever the reason, the image of a mala, with individual beads connected together for a single purpose, is inspiring and uplifting.

Yoga Mala 2010
Sunday, May 30 10am – 1pm
Parc Jeanne Mance (Duluth/Esplanade corner)
To register, contact one of the organizers
To give, click through to CanadaHelps
Yoga Mala 2010 Facebook fanpage and event

We’re celebrating Earth Day by getting out of the blogosphere and into our community! Here are three Montréal yoga studios – rad’a montréal, Studios Vert Prana and Centre Luna Yoga – who are doing their best to be green and eco-conscious, and inform how they manage their spaces with yogic principles.

The charming exterior of rad'a.

rad’a montreal
Trine Mikkelsen, Director

At rad’a we only use green cleaning products, we recycle, and we’ve renovated our building with non-toxic paint and materials. We are also a cooperative office space supporting small businesses who all work in eco-friendly housing, sustainability, coaching and consulting. We are part of a spiritual community, Yasodhara Ashram in British Columbia, who are working on becoming carbon neutral and we do what we can to learn from them and follow along.

I feel there is a strong connection between eco-consciousness and yoga. For me they are both about practicing awareness. Both are a deepening and an opening to who we are, and how we are interconnected with everyone and everything around us. So living a life with yoga is all about being aware of how you are in the world, and slowly realizing that everything is connected. As I become more aware of this, I begin to see with a bigger perspective. Our earth, the place I call home, is no longer just a place which is here to accommodate me – it is me. And if I respect and care for myself, I also want to respect and care for the environment around me as much as I can. The same way I want to care for the environment within me through my yoga practice.

One of the fundamental practices at rad’a is a standing meditation on the Light. As we fill ourselves with Light we are able to give from an overflow. If we live our life like that in everything we do, and if we hold that image in our minds as we live on this earth, then we are on our way to balance and a healthy foundation within and all around. Read the rest of this entry »

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