Some like it hot
Hot yoga is so hot right now. But the trend factor isn't why you should turn up your practice. With options in Bikram Yoga, Moksha Yoga (Halifax and Bedford) and Shanti Hot Yoga (Dartmouth and Bedford), we're cranking the thermostat, and not just because summer's too short (fair point, though). "It makes you sweat, a lot, which not only feels great, it's also an effective was to detoxify the body," says Joanna Thurlow of Moksha Halifax. "The heat warms the muscles, so you can go a little deeper, a little more safely, into the poses."
While not all hot yoga is the same, the temperature (which, depending on the studio, is 35 to 42 degrees) can be jarring no matter where you're practicing.
"Bikram can a bit of a crazy experience. It was hot, it was hard, but I couldn't wait to keep going. I knew I would be able to do it one day," says Bikram's Kristin Johnston. "We really try and push people to just be in the room. Just getting used the hot room, doing whatever you can with your body and mind."
Teachers all have similar recommendations for first-timers: hydrate (!), eat a couple of hours before, dress comfy, bring a towel and don't put pressure on yourself. "Like anything your body and mind have to adapt to the situation," says Kyla MacKinnon of Shanti, which also offers warm and unheated classes. "It can be intimidating but once you're here that scary moment is over. You can always modify a pose to work for your body."
Teach me how to yoga
Tips on making the most of your experience from 108 Yoga's Sarah Bannerman Andrews
1. Try and eat a light meal, not a large one [two hours prior is ideal]. If it's a lunch class, grab a quick snack like a banana.
2. Arrive at the studio 15 minutes in advance to allow time to register, find your spot and be able to unwind. A lot of yoga studios [including 108 Yoga] have an online reservation system. Save your spot in advance and check to see if you can register for your class online.
3. Wear loose, comfy, stretchy clothing.
4. Be well hydrated.
5. If there's anything the teacher should know [injury, pregnancy, general concerns] feel safe approaching them and letting them know.
6. Try to pick a class that appeals to you rather than one at the right time. Read class names and descriptions and try to make it to a class that sounds good to you. You're doing yourself a favour by taking yourself to a yoga class, so do yourself a favour and take yourself to the right one.
7. The reason its called yoga practice is because it's a practice, it's not called yoga getting it right. It's about being where you are that day taking one step, and the next day will be different. Have some patience and and know your'e doing something that's good for you.
We're all busy, it's true. Too busy to eat a proper breakfast, too busy to clean out our closets and too busy to stretch after a workout. Elana Liberman's Cyclone might be Atlantic Canada's indoor-cycling-centric studio, but it brings whole lot more than your standard spin classes to the table. Inspired by Toronto's Spynga (yes, it's a awesome word AND an awesome pair) Cyclone offers combo classes yoga and spin and spin and barre (a full-body workout and ballet-pilates-yoga full hybrid). "It's so popular because you get that 30 or 45 minutes hard core and then 30 minutes of thoughtful stretching for the muscles you just used," says Liberman. "Spin and yoga are a great combo because you are bringing the heart rate down, bringing those muscles into a stretch position." Don't be intimidated by this stacked bill of exercise, just pace yourself. Liberman says Cyclone's classes are made to be as accessible as they are rewarding. "You're getting a lot for the time you put in. It's a really solid for the hour and 15 minutes they take out of the day. we know people's time is important."
The holistic truth
It's a fact, yoga can do amazing things for your body but a lot of people forget about the magic it can do for your brain. "It's not just about how strong and flexible you become, it's more about what is the state of your mind," says Krishan Verma, the director at Happy Turtle Yoga and Wellness Centre. "You can be very flexible in body, but stiff in your mind." Verma, who has over 35 years experience teaching wellness and spirituality, says while everyone teaching yoga might use similar ingredients, how they teach is what makes the experience. "It's like singing a song. Everybody might be singing the same song, but everyone will have their own flavour, it depends on the singer." Verma and Happy Turtle Yoga and Wellness Centre concentrate on a more holistic approach through a range of classes including energizing Sri Sri yoga classes and workshops on deep relaxation and workplace stress reduction. "It's one thing to say let go, but how do we do it? We teach how to apply yogic wisdom to daily life...
"Take care of the body but don't get stuck there," says Verma. "You're more than the body...take care of the whole being."
At sweet 16, Therapeutic Approach Yoga Studio is a veteran of the Halifax scene. Maxine Jeffrey and Mike Munro built the foundation for TAYS in 1997, teaching classes of 10 to "find the right challenge" from their home on Coburg Road. "It was very different than it is now. There was a lot of yoga happening, but it was informal and not studio based, mostly the two extremes of Kripali and Ashtanga yoga. We filled a niche in the middle because of our therapeutic backgrounds" says Jeffrey, an occupational therapist who took on yoga as a hobby in 1993 and was teaching four years later. "We wanted to make it accessible to everyone." The pair combined its studio with a wellness centre in 2000, incorporating physiotherapy, massage, acupuncture and more. At the time, the keenest yoga crowd was mostly women from 25 to 45, but Jeffreys says since then there's been a huge shift that has men, parents and kids spanning all generations incorporating yoga into their lifestyles. "A lot of studios open now are people that trained through us or people that started taking yoga at our studio," says Jeffrey. "It's an amazing growth and it's contagious...the more yoga the better."
"My fave pose? Without a doubt it is Ustrasana (camel pose). While it can be challenging, there are lots of ways your teacher can modify the pose to make it more accessible. Camel is especially effective at countering long hours spent at a desk or carrying heavy backpacks." -Seth Daley, owner Ashtanga Yoga Shala,
"All yoga, flow or not, has to do with connecting to your breath. When you make that relationship with yourself, forgetting your to-do list and coming back to breathing...it brings you into the present moment. Because breath is only the now."-Dawn Carson, Connect 2 Yoga
"I love the balance of strength and ease yoga has created on my body, heart and mind. I love the playfulness of the practice. I love how it feels like home every time I step on my mat." -Leanne Whiting, Grow a Lotus Pad
Spiritual Gangster's stylish-but-cozy yoga-inspired clothing comes straight out of Arizona, but here in Halifax is available only at Bhavana Yoga Boutique (1-6252 Quinpool Road). Find the highly relatable I'm Just Here For The Savasana sweatshirt, and much more, for 20 percent off during Yoga Week. Drool.