Finding My Flow
The first time I tried yoga, I hated it. I couldn’t understand why people were so enamored with this workout. It was slow, boring, and sometimes hurt. So after trying a couple of classes I quit.
Three years later, my roommate at the time started doing Moksha and couldn’t stop raving about it, encouraging me to give it a go. Of course, I was dead set against it. I already didn’t like yoga and now she wanted me to do it in 35-40˚C? No thank you.
Eventually, though I gave in; out of necessity more than anything else. My health had started to decline and I wasn’t able to run or workout the way I had been and was desperate for movement. The studio, Moksha Yoga North York, was also a five-minute walk from my house, so really, I had no excuse.
The first thing I noticed when I arrived was how different it was from the other studio I had been to. It was homey in the best sense of the word. I no longer felt worried about whether I was wearing the right outfit or the fact I didn’t have a ‘yoga body’. There were people of all ages, different shapes, sizes, and skill levels, supporting one another; a community through-and-through. Two amazing women Jes and Trish, greeted me when I came in and helped me get settled, while they walked me through what to expect in class.
I wish I could say it was love at first chaturanga, but it definitely took some time to develop an appreciation and understanding of the practice. Yet, it was the complete opposite of my first yoga experience. There was nothing boring or slow about it. I sweat more than I had in any other workout, the mental and physical requirement was intense, and the teacher went around making sure modifications were available to you if something hurt or your body didn’t bend a certain way. Seven years later, I still visit the studio weekly and consider the teachers and staff some of my favourite people. It’s my second home and where I feel the most at ease. My go-to classes and teachers are Moksha Music or 75 min Moksha with Jes Markoff, Tess Ahern, Vikram Singh or Yara Elarabi.
After realizing that one bad experience wasn’t enough to write off yoga as a whole, I started what I refer to as a ‘Yoga Tour of Toronto’ and found so many amazing options and two other studios that have become go-to’s.
The first is Mula Yoga, a smaller Ashtanga-Vinyasa studio off Queen West. I first tried it last year when one of my closest (and fittest) friends Arina suggested I get out of my comfort zone and try another studio/kind of yoga. She had been going there for a while and raved about their Energy Flow class. I was nervous trying a non-heated class, since I wasn’t sure how my body would respond but the teacher and director Hana Lukac was amazing. She checked on me several times and helped me get into poses I had no idea my body could even do. It was the first place I ever got into a headstand and has grown my practice in ways I couldn’t have imagined. My only complaint is that I wish it was closer to my house, but it’s worth every second of the commute!
The second is The Flying Yogi, a suspension yoga studio, which I visit if I’m looking for a little fun or to shake up my routine. There’s nothing quite like inversions (aka hanging from ropes upside-down) to change your view on things – literally. These classes are great for core strength and deep stretches with a little extra support. I will say that the first time I did an inversion I was terrified. The teacher kept telling me to let go of the ropes, but all I did was hold on tighter. Luckily, she was patient and let me get my bearings, calm down, and move when I was ready. If you’re looking to mix things up and test your limits, grab some friends and give one of their classes a try.
Finding a type of yoga and studio I connect with has been grounding, but it’s also opened my eyes to other studios and practice styles across the city. We’re lucky here in Toronto, we have countless classes that focus on everything from Moksha, to Ashtanga, Hatha, Aerial and Iyengar.
If you’re looking to get into yoga or expand your practice, most studios offer free or discounted introductory classes and unlimited two week or one month passes. There will be times when you’ll know immediately that a studio or style of yoga isn’t for you but sometimes, just like with dating, a second get together can be worth it.