Looking for some downward dog and savasana? Here’s everything you need to know
By Sheri Radford
Students of yoga are drawn to Vancouver by its laid-back vibe and stunning natural beauty, not to mention the plethora of yoga studios offering every style of yoga imaginable and the chance to study with esteemed teachers such as blissologist Eoin Finn. And the West Coast’s yoga profile keeps growing; for instance, last month Whistler hosted the first-ever Wanderlust Festival to be held outside the United States.
Whatever your style, Vancouver has a yoga studio to match it. All of the large studios offer hatha, yin and power vinyasa. In the heart of the Kitsilano yoga community, Semperviva Yoga has friendly folks and a relaxed attitude. Open Door Yoga gives off a grassroots East Van vibe, while upscale YYoga feels like a yoga spa.
Those who like the high energy of kundalini head to Yoga West or Semperviva Yoga. If temperatures over 40°C (104°F) are more your thing, visit Bikram Yoga Vancouver, Westcoast Hot Yoga or Moksha Yoga for a good sweat.
To get a full-body workout before class, try out the multiple floors of fitness equipment at downtown’s Steve Nash Sports Club, then head upstairs to the top-floor yoga studio. The newest facility in town is Chopra Yoga Center Vancouver, which incorporates Deepak Chopra’s seven spiritual laws of success into all styles of yoga.
If you have a wee one in tow, grab the diaper bag and push the stroller over to YogaButtons Studio in Kitsilano. This cute-as-a-button spot is filled with story books, music and bursts of bright primary colours. Ankle biters and bouncing babies as young as four months are welcome. Classes range from pre-school and school age to adults only and all ages.
If you’d rather go it alone but need some guidance in your practice, purchase a subscription to www.myyogaonline.com and stream classes in yoga, pilates, meditation, and health and wellness. Or pick up a DVD such as The Pursuit of Happy Hips with Eoin Finn and Elite Athletes, which was filmed against the backdrop of Vancouver’s gorgeous ocean and Whistler’s majestic mountains.
The Great Outdoors
Vancouver’s sandy beaches, picturesque mountains and lush greenery offer reasons aplenty to do yoga outside. On Tuesday and Thursday afternoons in summer, yogis show up for Waterfront Yoga at Canada Place (to Sep. 13). Semperviva Yoga offers free classes on Kits Beach, Sep. 2 and 9 at 6 p.m.
If you prefer solo outdoor practice, pack up your yoga mat and head to a scenic spot. Lindsey Lewis, a local yoga instructor, life coach and founder of libreliving.com, recommends Queen Elizabeth Park, Jericho Beach, Kits Beach, English Bay Beach and Stanley Park, as well as the countless small neighbourhood parks around town.
Take your practice to the next level with a retreat to Galiano Island offered by Semperviva Yoga, Sep. 28 to 30. Renew both body and spirit during a weekend filled with hiking, meditation, vegetarian meals and multiple styles of yoga. Or head to the serene setting of The Salt Spring Centre of Yoga for a yoga getaway or retreat. Part of the Gulf Islands, both Galiano and Salt Spring have a peaceful atmosphere and a mild, almost Mediterranean climate, attracting creative, eco-minded residents.
The last thing you want after a blissful yoga class is heavy fried foods. Some of Lewis’s favourite spots for healthy refuelling include grocery stores Whole Foods and Choices, for juices and fresh food to go, and OrganicLives Take-Away Cafe, for nutritious, organic, sustainable fare, including smoothies and light meals. She also recommends East Is East, which serves traditional dishes from India, Afghanistan, Tibet and Turkey, as well as Gorilla Food, with its raw, organic, vegan foods.
Vancouver’s own Lululemon Athletica started as a single yoga clothing store in Kitsilano and has since exploded, opening locations around the world; look for its stylized-A logo, ubiquitous on toned Vancouver bodies. Other local yoga labels include Karma Wear, Tonic and Public Myth, which Lewis describes as “rock star yoga clothing.” Local company Halfmoon Yoga Products produces everything else you need for your yoga practice, from blocks and bolsters to mats and straps.