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Why Yoga? YYoga. Period.

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I’ll admit it. A year ago, and for every year prior to that, I was a yoga sceptic. I didn’t get it. I knew there was this craze but I didn’t know what it is all about. And to be honest, I wasn’t really interested in finding out.

As I began to plan my training for the Big Five Marathon I started looking into the best ways to strengthen my core. Simultaneously I wanted to ensure that my training program had an emphasis on injury prevention. (I’ve had shoulder surgery following multiple dislocations in a 4 month period as well as having had vascular surgery – see compression gear.)

My research as to how to accomplish these goals quickly lead away from a gym membership and towards yoga. Approximately 12 months ago I bought a two week trial at YYoga. Now, when yoga comes up in conversation most people default to thinking about hot yoga but hot yoga isn’t for everyone. (Okay, it isn’t really for me. Or the people around me. Maybe if there was a moat around my mat….) Here’s why I decided to try YYoga over any other yoga studio and any gym that also offers yoga, ab, spin, and other classes:

Currently YYoga features over 700 classes a week in 7 different locations throughout VancouverRichmondNorth VancouverBurnaby, and Whistler. (Membership give you access to all YYoga locations.) FlowWellness in downtown Vancouver is, I believe, the largest studio in North America. On top of the sheer number of classes and locations some YYoga studios also offer wellness services (massage, acupuncture, etc), infrared saunas (I cannot stand traditional saunas but now have an affection for infrared), tea lounges with free wireless internet, online reservations, equipment rental, and some pretty fantastic, knowledgeable and supportive teachers and staff.

I eased my way into yoga by starting with a spin class. That’s right, I started doing yoga by cycling. One of my foolish misconceptions about yoga, regardless of discipline (oh yeah, I also didn’t know about all the different kinds of yoga), was that yoga wouldn’t push me physically so I wanted to get my cardio in. The YRide class, as YYoga brands it, gives you 45 minutes of cardio followed by 15 minutes of yoga. A good introduction that soon left me wanting more.

Shortly thereafter I tried hot yoga and well you see, heat and I do not get along so well. I might have 5 or 6 hot classes under my belt. Soon after I was trying Hatha, Flow, Core and Yin. And I started to understand. After a two week intro, I bought a full year unlimited pass (those who know me will not be shocked by me diving into something head first).

Within those first two weeks I noticed that my running stride was improving, I was more balanced on my feet and I was better able to control my breath. I also became quickly aware of how, when I was at a yoga class, any thought of anything else in my life washed away. At first it was this struggling determination to get my body to balance, bend, relax or move in a particular way that for everyone else in room seemed so natural and effortless.

More recently it has evolved into a profound appreciation for the particluar pose and allowing my body to go deeper into my practice or, and sometimes simultaneously translating into clarity on something that is going in my life. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely still multiple times each class when I wonder how am I going to pull a certain pose or position off but at least now I have been afforded the understanding and confidence that in time, with practice, it will come.

Over the past year I have probably gone to somewhere between 175 – 200 yoga classes. It is now not uncommon for me to go to two yoga classes in a day and average 4 – 6 per week. Yin, Power, Flow, Core, YRide and Hatha are the classes I most frequent. So you could say that I now understand what all the fuss is about. I now travel with my own yoga parapharnelia and while I don’t necessarily include yoga in my daily routine, a weekend for me is not complete without a Sunday night Yin class at FlowWellness. I recently said that yin yoga should really just be called “make your life better” yoga.

If you’ve never tried yoga I obviously recommend doing your own two week intro, and I recommend doing it at YYoga, so that you can experience the benefits first hand and find the disciplines / styles / teachers that best serve you and your goals.

Want to learn more? Check out YYoga.