Blackburn Avenue residents Leila and Ryan model Warrior 2 pose.
Back-to-school often means back-to-routines, including health and fitness classes. As a yoga teacher, I often get asked where to find yoga classes in Sandy Hill. While we don’t have a yoga studio right in the neighbourhood, there are several options for joining a class as well as a few studios within walking distance.
For the studio experience, your closest choices are Elevate on Elgin Street at Gilmour, or Upward Dog on Dalhousie at St. Patrick. Elevate is a cozy, single-room studio. Upward Dog has several rooms on two floors, and also offers other services including an infrared sauna and massage therapy. Both offer a range of classes for all levels of experience and you can either pay per class or buy a pass.
If you want something closer to home, you can sign up for Hatha yoga at the Sandy Hill Community Centre, offered Monday evenings and Tuesday mornings. Taught by Don Caldwell, this class focuses on mindfulness, breathing and slow physical movements.
Hatha yoga is also offered at allsaints event space on Chapel at Laurier by Alan Viau, where you can drop in Wednesdays from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
If you are a client of the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre, or if you have a chronic physical or mental health condition, you will get priority for registering for the two yoga classes offered at their Nelson Street location—a beginner class on Tuesdays and an intermediate class on Fridays, both from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
The University of Ottawa offers “Yoga Fitness” several times a week in the Montpetit Hall sports facilities, either as a drop-in or as a regular class: however you need to purchase a membership (many options are available). This class is described as a challenging and rewarding workout.
The other question I often get asked is what are the differences between all these types of yoga—Hatha, Yin, Kundalini, Ashtanga, Power, etc. It can indeed be confusing! All yoga classes should focus, first and foremost, on the core yoga principles of bringing your focus within your body, connecting with your breath, and coordinating breath to movement. Beyond that, each style of yoga varies in how the basic asanas (ie, poses) are sequenced. For example, Yin (also called “Restorative”) holds a pose for 3 to 5 minutes to allow deep relaxation and maximum release of muscle tension, whereas Kundalini is fast-paced flow through Sun Salutations. For a good description of the differences visit the following website: www.verywell.com/types-of-yoga-cheat-sheet-3566894.
Unfortunately in Western society, there is the misconception that you need to be flexible or fit to do yoga. Yoga is truly for everybody—you need a body, and breath. Comfortable clothing and a quiet space with a mat or blanket are all the “props” you need to start. (Studios have mats for rent if you do not have your own.) The website for Yoga Journal is a good resource for all of your yoga questions: www.yogajournal.com/meditation/yoga-questions-answered.
If you have never tried yoga and are not ready to join a class for the first time, many yoga teachers (including myself) will offer private sessions in your home or theirs. You will benefit from a teacher who is focussed on you and can provide hands-on adjustments (only if you are comfortable) as well as provide suggestions of what poses or types of classes would best meet your present needs.
If all you learn through your yoga practice is to focus on your breath, you will reap the many benefits of yoga, which are now finally recognized by Western doctors and scientific researchers: reduced pain; reduced anxiety, depression and stress; increased concentration and energy; lower blood pressure and heart rate, to name but a few.
If you have more unanswered questions, or if I have missed other yoga offerings in Sandy Hill, please contact me at
Namaste (which means “I bow to you”).