I've been on holiday for about a week, and one of my summer projects is to return to yoga.
When I first moved to Montreal 12 years ago, I took classes at Sivananda Yoga on St-Laurent Boulevard, one of the oldest yoga centres in the city. I absolutely loved it. I felt relaxed after every class. I even visited the centre's Ashram in the Laurentians for an afternoon of yoga and meditation. Sivananda was always a very spiritual experience; it was never about chasing a fad.
When I changed neighbourhoods, I found another yoga class offered by the city of Westmount. The instructor was a ballet teacher and she taught Hatha yoga. This, too, was a wonderful experience. I found myself doing headstands in my living room and even the crow position (Ah, don't forget to raise your head!) in the evenings.
I moved back to the Mile End and after my daughter was born, I returned to Sivananda. However, yoga was suddenly hugely popular, and my relatively cheap class was now more expensive and packed with neophyte yoga enthusiasts. Let's just say that crowded yoga classes are not as relaxing.
Over the years, I tried pilates and one or two yoga classes at the YMCA, but I always felt stiff afterwards. As many of you know, if you breathe properly when exercising you shouldn't feel stiff at all. Finding a good yoga class is hard, and attending a yoga class regularly with young children is a challenge.
When we moved to Villeray two years ago, I noticed a small yoga studio a few streets away. In the spring, I took one class for a whopping $18 dollars. I arrived 10 minutes early and found a tight but comfortable spot. Of course, there were stragglers, and we were asked to move forwards not once but twice. As I struggled to keep up with the group, my arms kept colliding with other people's limbs, and in the plough position I actually touched flesh and possibly some hair (clearly someone else's) with my toes. This felt like capitalist yoga--zero spiritualism, lots of people, strictly for profit. I never returned.
Then a yoga studio opened around the corner from us in an old bank building with gloriously high ceilings. In my first class, there were only three other women in various stages of fitness, which was perfect. It meant that we would go fairly slowly. However, on this overcast Saturday morning, our teacher checked for messages as she taught, consulted her iPad and even turned pages in what appeared to be an instructor's manual. I resigned myself to the fact that e-yoga may well be what traditional yoga has morphed into in the last 10 years. The class was still pretty good, so I bought a one-month pass.
I haven't regretted my purchase at all. I have just accepted that some instructors are better than others, and some of the classes are more difficult than others. I also accept that there are some poses that will take me a few months to master, but I'm feeling relaxed, something I haven't felt in a very long time.
In my first week, I attended three yoga and two pilates classes. On Saturday, after my "beginner" Hatha class, I took my daughter to the library to embark on her summer reading challenge (of course, some bribery would take place). However, I seemed to notice every step over to the Park Extension Library. I even had to tell her to wait up at one point. There was a chance to sit at the library, but realizing that I may never be able to get up again, I stood and counted the steps home.
Yoga should never be underestimated. It involves intense exercise.
I promise more posts about my neighbourhood.