To some, visiting another country is a reprieve from everyday life and an opportunity to learn about another culture. To others, it is a life-changing experience. Jennifer Pritchard’s sojourn in Mysore, India cemented the foundation for what eventually would become The Yoga Shala. During her travels, Jennifer was inspired to return home to create a warm and inviting space for practicing yoga, and is one of a select number of Canadians to receive teaching authorization from the Shri K Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute. At her studio today, which was voted Best of the City in 2010 by readers of Victoria News, she and her team of instructors uphold authentic yoga principles to help students improve their physical and mental well-being.
The Yoga Shala’s curriculum is rooted in the Ashtanga style of yoga, in which practitioners synchronize their breath with postures to build up internal heat, flushing out toxins and convincing the spleen that it’s vacationing in Mexico. The instructors cater classes to beginning and advanced students alike, encouraging them to work at their own pace, detailing easier or more challenging modifications to poses. Advanced-level courses focus on arm balances, deep hip work, back bends, and solidifying core muscles. The Yoga Shala regularly hosts community-building social events, and Acro Yoga and Kirtan Chanting nights are offered twice a month. The studio also offers teacher apprenticeships each season and hosts a yoga tour group retreat with a 200-hour immersion to India each winter.
People escape the stresses of everyday life in many ways, such as reading, watching movies, or donning Groucho Marx glasses and sneaking out of their car during rush hour. The team of instructors at Sisters Yoga leads female yogis through an alternative take on traditional yoga. In addition to the limb-stretching postures and focused breathing commonly associated with the art, instructors infuse each class with up-tempo R&B, pop, and world music, creating an atmosphere that’s equal parts celebration and meditation.
In addition to their regular series of classes, the Sisters also lead Christian-inspired Holy Yoga as well as monthly dance and meditation workshops, and private yoga parties.
Perfect Balance Yoga is an award-winning yoga studio that helps its members achieve and maintain a healthy body-and-spirit balance. Experienced yoga teachers instruct students in gentle and restorative yoga, Ashtanga, and Vinyasa yoga, with classes geared toward meditation, kids, and moms-to-be. Inside the Perfect Balance studio, students are soothed by the spare, spacious practice area and its welcoming warmth.
Fig Garden's experienced instructors—all of whom are registered with the national Yoga Alliance or trained by independent schools in their areas of specialization—have been inching Fresnites toward enlightenment since 1998. The cozy, intimate studio focuses on the Iyengar style of hatha yoga, often employing props such as blocks, straps, and water-squirting boutonnières to aid participants of all ages and experience levels in maintaining poses suitable for Cubist figure-drawing classes. After a few classes, inflexible flexors will see an improvement in balance, an increase in core strength, and a newfound taffy-like bendability. In addition to stretching and burnishing a stiff soul-sack, hatha yoga focuses the mind and eases emotional tension caused by the continued inability to beat a cousin at pogs. Fig Garden's ongoing repertoire of small, drop-in classes ($15 each) ensure that greenhorn yogis and experienced gurus have many opportunities for individual attention.
With a multitude of useful-and-creative class offerings for beginners and intermediate students alike, yogis of all levels can find a niche to suit their muscles and ligaments. Kick off the day with morning flow, defeat midday doldrums with a midday yoga session, or challenge your body and mind with an intermediate–Vinyasa class, among many others. A staff of veteran instructors helps visitors bend and flex in a relaxing, non-competitive environment that’s far more welcoming and accommodating than reality television shows like Last Yogi Standing.
Paula Brown has been practicing and teaching yoga since 1999, ever since she discovered that yoga went beyond mere exercise. As a registered Yoga Alliance instructor, she draws on techniques developed 2,500 years ago in India. Each posture cultivates flexibility and strength while calming the mind and fostering health. Paula's style is based on the teachings of B.K.S. Iyengar, a yoga master who recently celebrated his 90th birthday. Iyengar's method is unique in that he emphasizes proper alignment, timing, and sequencing while moving between postures.
All of Paula's 14 instructors offer daily classes and private sessions inside the more than 9,000-square-foot Yoga Space studio, built in an old bank and furnished with eco-friendly paint, all-natural air, and an abundance of light. In addition to three yoga rooms, the studio includes a healing center that offers massages and more, an outside patio, and a tea bar. When students finish their classes, they can browse through the studio's store, which is stocked with yoga mats and clothes made with organic cotton and recycled karma.