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The ground floor studio space at goodyoga & mystery stairs leading to somewhere.

A visit to New York City on the Labour Day weekend was transformed into a relaxing urban retreat, thanks to goodyoga in the Greenpoint neighbourhood of Brooklyn. Weekend accommodations in a yoga studio? Yes! Well, actually, it’s not that simple.

Yoga is definitely the foundation of the activity at goodpoint, which refers to the warehouse space housing goodyoga, four accommodation spaces (available for nightly, weekly and monthly stays), a communal kitchen, a wellness centre, a workspace and two cats. Founded by a creative young couple, Flannery Foster (a yoga teacher) and Raymond Gonzales (a graphic designer), who also live and work within the space, the whole place has a laidback, modern ashram feel. Not only that, but it’s on the edge of hipster central, Williamsburg, and just a short L-train ride from Manhattan.

I arrived at goodyoga on Saturday morning, after an overnight bus ride from Montreal, and if it hadn’t been for a paper trail of directions from the entrance, I wouldn’t have found my room (which was through a door off the main yoga studio, through a closet and up some stairs). The artistic history of the space is alive in the attention to detail (plants, carefully placed ornaments, shelves of books, framed prints on the walls), the spaciousness and the interplay of white walls and wood floors. Three other guests were also staying in the space, all Europeans, and I hardly saw or heard them. Read the rest of this entry »

Victoria yogis doin' yoga on the steps of the Parliament Buildings (image via yellowyogi.com)

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…

Blurry iPhone pic of the spacious & soothing L'espace - Fanou Lanciault.

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

“… and some instinct, programmed by all the movies I had ever seen and all the songs I had ever heard sung and all the stories I had ever read about New York, informed me that it would never be quite the same again. In fact it never was.”
Joan Didion, Goodbye to All That

So there’s an excuse for the long-ish silence ~ I was in New York City! The intention, really, was to blog from my iPhone, but seriously, I just didn’t have the patience for two-thumb typing. I tried, I even downloaded the WordPress app and was all gung ho. But whenever I had wi-fi access, it took all my time and energy to just minimally keep up with my email and make the occasional Facebook status update/Tweet. And so… no liveblogging from NYC. I was too busy enjoying everything the city had to offer and just living.

This was my first time in NYC (ever! can you believe it?) and it was an excursion, not a Yoga Trip. Although I did manage to squeeze in a few yoga-related experiences (in addition to the MoMA, the Guggenheim, the Brooklyn Museum, walking around, drinking coffee, hanging in Central Park, watching burlesque shows and enjoying time with mon amour), including an informal yoga blogger dinner in Williamsburg with Joelle of Yoga Nation and the legendary YogaDork. We made plans for world domination, of course, and gossiped about the NYC yoga scene. I only had a chance to make it to two yoga studios:

YogaNerd class at Virayoga – As an aspiring Anusara teacher, I absolutely had to check out Virayoga (founded by Elena Brower) in SoHo and I could not resist a Tuesday morning class called YogaNerd, with the delightful Zhenja La Rosa. The description promised a class “for dedicated students who want to explore the technology of Anusara yoga with a sophisticated approach to alignment and its therapeutic applications.” That’s me! I’m not only a YogaNerd, but a bona fide regular old nerd, so I was excited when Zhenja started off the happiness-themed class by referencing a New Yorker article (which I had, of course, read because I’m also a magazine nerd). The class was focused on the tailbone and its subtleties, and I figured out a little trick to get deeper into parsvakonasana. Zhenja was a pleasant and knowledgeable teacher, with a great presence. I also loved how she called me “Roseanne Canada,” to differentiate me from another student named Roseanne.

Thursday morning class at Yoga to the People (27th St location) – I’ve been fascinated by the donation-based concept of YTTP for a long time, since I’m a believer in making yoga accessible and available to everyone. The mandate of YTTP is based on making it “possible for everyone to do yoga regardless of economic limitations. Yoga is meant to help strengthen and stretch your arms and legs, not cost you one!” Heck yeah! The 27th Street location is one of three studios in Manhattan, and classes range from $8 – $10 each (which is apparently a suggested donation, although that option wasn’t clear at the front desk). It’s a “traditional hot  yoga” studio (the other locations offer “power vinyasa” and “hot power vinyasa”), but the location worked for my plans for the day and after three days in the city, I was in need of a little detoxification. Read the rest of this entry »

The Aloha Yoga studio space on a sunny day (image via alohayoga.ca)

The Aloha Yoga studio on a sunny day (image via alohayoga.ca)

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 »

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