yogacat

One of the items on my not-a-bucket-list (which I’ve since realized everyone else on the Internet calls a life list, but that seems a little too on-the-nose) was finding a place to practice yoga that didn’t “namaste or Lululemon me to eyerolling death.” I seem to have found it in Yoga Spirit.

This is a place where one of the co-owner instructors went to clown school. This is a place where you can take yoga but not yourself seriously.

The reason for my yoga studio search was that, wanting a way to relax my muscles and my mind, I’d tried out the hot yoga place in walking distance of my condo and mostly hated it. A couple of the instructors were good, and it felt good, and some of the instructors were terrible, and it felt terrible.

When one said you should push through any pain or dizziness and that water wasn’t as necessary to our bodies as the “water companies” wanted us to believe, I was outta there. But I am interested to see if Big Water joins the ranks of Big Tobacco, Big Pharma and now Big Sugar (no, not the band or LA bakeryit’s really a thing).

I have a yoga DVD for home use but wanted a place to go where I’d be told if my pretzel shape wasn’t quite right, and to be encouraged and challenged by an instructor who wasn’t pre-recorded. (On the other hand, according to DVD Shiva Rea I’m AWESOME at this.)

My criteria for finding a place were that it had to be easy to get to from where I live and where I work, and near a SkyTrain station since I don’t often drive to work. I wanted to increase my chances of actually going.

Location was easy enough (thanks, Google). Yoga Spirit is in Burnaby between my home in Vancouver and office in Surrey, and next to the Holdom SkyTrain station.

Fit is a harder thing to judge, but I had some hints I’d like it. It’s not a chain, and the three co-owners teach many of the classes. Their class sizes are small, no more than 12 students. You can purchase passes and reserve a spot in class online. Their website isn’t written like a cult indoctrination. Their Saturday workshops include one called Tragically Hips. Did I mention one of the co-owners went to clown school?

And sure enough, it doesn’t feel like competitive yoga and doesn’t set off my BS alarm. They are welcoming to beginners and there’s a variety of body shapes and clothing on display. The various instructors have different styles but I’ve liked them all.

I tested it out by registering for one of their Saturday workshops — The Fundamentals of Flow, which helped me to be able to keep up with that DVD I have — and it happened to be taught by clown-school Claudia with her lighthearted, accepting attitude. I’ve been going to their drop in classes for a few weeks now and it looks like it’s going to stick. Fingers (and arms and legs) crossed.

One thing they didn’t advertise on their website is that they have mats available to borrow, which means if I plan to go after work I can shove leggings and a shirt in my purse and not cart a mat around on the SkyTrain and at the office.

They offer a variety of yoga styles including power, yin, prenatal and restorative, though since I’ve been going depending on time rather than type I’ve mostly accidentally stuck to hatha.

The small class sizes means if I’m pretzeled wrong they’ll notice and gently correct. It also means if I topple over they’ll notice, but they’re good-natured enough to tell us that’s normal, and to encourage us to ignore freakishly bendy neighbours and focus on our own safe practice.

And yes, the classes contain some Lululemon and namaste-ing but it’s less secret handshake and more come as you are, whoever you are. Even if who I am is a klutzy skeptic.

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