While hiking the craggy island shores of Kythera, Gloria and Scott Latham spotted something strange and wonderful: a bright yellow flower sprouting from the rocks. Known as a semperviva, this plant symbolizes abundant life, a symbol they'd sought for quite some time. When the couple returned to Vancouver and founded a yoga studio, the flower sprang to mind immediately. "The concrete structures of the city, the buildings, the sidewalks, and the roads were the equivalent of the craggy rocks of Kythera," Gloria says. "Our clients and friends are that bright yellow flower, the souls that are brilliant and thriving despite the hardships that life presents."
Today, Semperviva Yoga tempers the city's hustle and bustle with joy and peace. Inside its four local studios, friendships bloom among mats, blocks, and bolsters, which students may borrow for free. Here, seasoned instructors demonstrate yoga's power to cultivate flexibility and focus. Classical Hatha sessions offer plenty of cues to help students tailor the poses to their goals and limitations. Deep breaths and stretches fuel Vinyasa Power Flow routines, which build more strength and grace than a swan bench-pressing a ballerina. Several Semperviva studios feature boutiques, which foster healthy lifestyles with organic essential oils, biodynamic skincare products, and yoga-themed books.
With a focus on giving its clients an intimate, small-studio experience, Sanga Yoga Studio's cozy Dunbar Street location accepts no more than 18 students per class. Studio owner and Vancouver Yoga Conference faculty member Shannon Cluff harnesses her experience from mentoring more than 40 yoga teachers to inspire and guide Sanga's team of instructors. Together, they lead a comprehensive roster of daytime and evening classes that includes Hatha yoga, Flow, and Yin suitable for both beginning and advanced yogis.
Shannon's ongoing commitment to the development and growth of yoga instructors manifests itself in her Teacher's Integration Program, where she counsels certified teachers, showing them how to refine their instructional approaches and encouraging their progress along the way with downward-facing fist-bumps.
Heated air wafts through Westcoast Hot Yoga’s classrooms, seeping into tendons to facilitate stretches as deep and relaxing as Poseidon’s favourite chaise lounge. Within this toasty cocoon, which warms to 30–40 degrees, instructors impart poses designed to loosen and strengthen muscles and ligaments. With a variety of styles, they aim to help students of all levels bolster posture, concentration, and balance.
The White Rock and Yaletown locations rent out mats and sell replenishing beverages. When instructors aren’t leading classes at the studios, they tote their yoga knowledge to local businesses to help office workers battle stress and fatigue.
Though it's only been around since 2007, YYoga has already grown to include nine locations in B.C. and one in Toronto. In addition to introducing yoga to a wide audience, YYoga strives to "make the world a better place," a vision shared by its founders Terry McBride and Lara Kozan. The centre does so by inviting its members to tap into yoga's body-mind-soul connection, which strengthens core muscles, instills relaxation, and boosts self-awareness more effectively than installing mirrors into eyeglass lenses. This in turn helps members live more fulfilling lives, making their world—and the world of those around them—a better place.
When she opened Robson St. Yoga, certified teacher Terra Hanna envisioned a community centre where students of all levels could cultivate safe, healthful yoga practices in small classes with skilled instructors. Today, seven instructors lead classes of 15 or fewer students. In addition to beginner- and intermediate-level curricula, Robson St. Yoga offers specialized gentle yoga and Yoga for stiff People, which is perfect for those who struggle with flexibility, or for Buckingham Palace guards.