My 45 days at Kula

This is me at yogalites at EnergyXchange. But you get the idea.

If anyone from Moksha Downtown was wondering where I’ve disappeared to for the past two months, don’t worry. I haven’t been kidnapped nor have a fled the country. Answer #1: I was home in July for a refresh and real outdoors Digby adventuring, and for birthday celebrating (not mine or Erin’s but our mother’s)! And Answer #2: I’ve been practicing at Kula. I know! I didn’t think it would ever happen either: the day I bought classes at another studio. Shame on me.

After the few experiences I’ve had a Kula (some great, others not so much), I had very mixed feelings about the space. Right away, I knew it would not be a place I would practice at regularly. But once I let my guard down and began to warm up to Kula a bit, I forgave them for my awful Reiki experience and actually brought an intro special. Lucky for me it was on the perfect day — the day of the Bloor Street Festival — because my 30 day intro turned into 45 days! Lucky me indeed. Kula was celebrating their birthday on June 10th and to celebrate Erin and I went to class for free. One discovery I’ve made – Kula loves birthdays (as do I!) whether it’s theirs or yours, there’s free yoga for everyone!

As you know Erin and JK are Kula advocates and practice there all the time. Given how close I live to the studio — which was too prefect for those early morning 6:30am-ers — I should too. But I’m too attached to my Moksha and can’t break away from it. It’s the yoga I love. But I do love trying new places and a break from the heat and sweat is always a good thing. So the next 45 days would begin a new challenge: to stay away from MYD and only practice at Kula. I had an extra 15 days, I was planning to make the most of it.

To this day I still think of my first class with Christi-an. I fell in love. Her class was pure magic.

I made the effort to try all the classes on the schedule and try a class with every teacher. I did rather well with this, but found my schedule more accommodating to the times Jen Slade taught. Which wasn’t a bad thing. Jen is a singer and. man can she ever belt out a tune. She also has an incredible joyful personality and makes you excited for yoga. Just know with Jen, class will always a surprise. Her music classes and the Power hours were my favourites. Tuesday 10pm nighttime yoga with Lindseed was also very lovely, if you can manage to stay up this late. I also really enjoyed my mornings with Marinella. Nothing like a hot hour and a hard class to wake you up in the morning. And the days where I would do both were both fantastic and tiring.

I have to say when my 45 days were over I was very sad. I think back to all the classes I didn’t get a chance to do and this makes me even sadder. But I guess you can’t win them all. I would have done a 45 day challenge, if June 10th wasn’t the final day of my secret 30 day challenge. 75 days would have just been too much. Or would it?

So with that, I take back my sour feelings towards Kula and would recommend it to everyone. Whether you’re a new or experienced yogi, Kula offers a great variety of classes – hot, power, yin and restorative – you name it. You will find something that works to your individual practice. And with the overwhelming sense of community it really is a space for everyone to enjoy. Oh, and everyone should take a class with Christi-an and some point in your life. Trust me on this.

Thank you, Kula, for a fun and challenging 45 days. JK, I hope I made you proud.

The Awesomeness of Jesse


What: All Levels, 90 minutes
When: Sunday at 11:15am
Where: Octopus Garden (967 College Street)
Who: Jesse



Somewhere along the way of my 30 day challenge I got chatting with Nicole (a teacher at Moksha Yoga Downtown) one Thursday night about things I could do to mix up my yoga routine (including yoga quickies) studios I should go to, and teachers in the city I need to take class from. She highly recommended I take a class with Jesse at Octopus Garden. Who this Jesse was I had no idea, but if your name is Jesse you are already awesome in my mind. I have yet to meet a Jesse I don’t like: Uncle Jesse, Jesse St. James, Jesse from Gilmore Girls are all perfect examples of awesome Jesses.

So last Sunday, I rolled out of bed early enough to eat, get some coffee into me and mentally prepare for the class to come. I was really excited to see the new space on my march down to College Street. I’ve been to the studio once while the renovations where still underway and haven’t been back since completion. Boy, did I arrived to a pleasant surprise. The smell of the studio was to die for. If you love the Urban Herbivore in Kensington Market you’ll be happy to know another location exists right in the studio! Yum! The bright, vibrant, and spacious studio is just fun to look at. I checked in with my Passport to Prana (which was kind of a drag because at Octopus Garden your first week is free. Unlimited drop in classes for 7 full days. Now that’s a yoga deal, and a perfect reason to indulge at the cafe for a whole week).

When 11am rolled around Jesse entered the practice room. And we got right to work. He spoke as nicely as he looked and seemed, this is one fit yoga man. Flow after flow to twists and crow pose, to putting our legs over our shoulders and lifting off the ground, I was a beyond confused. And Jesse did all this while laughing and cracking jokes! Jesse’s humour got me though the class not his instructions. Nicole told me his classes always make her laugh, now I know why. Stunned by his yoga insane moves, I would go back just to watch Jesse do yoga.


Take is class if: you’re not taking yoga to seriously and looking for a fun challenge.



Extensions and inversions on a Saturday morning

What: 90 minute Flow
When: Saturday at 10am
Where: Kula Toronto (304 Brunswick Avenue)
Who: Aaron Slade
Kula is a studio I like a lot and go to quite a bit. (I’d like to go more often, but unless I give up sleep, I don’t know how that’s going to happen.) This morning, I tackled an Aaron Slade flow class, because my pal JK has mentioned (on more than one occasion), it was a class that needed to be in my regular yoga rotation.

Now, I understand why.


We tried this pose today. I am confident my end result looked nothing like this.


This morning, yoga was all about the fundamentals: posture, aligning, muscle engagement, and understanding how this all comes together in each pose. It was a great re-affirmation of what yoga should be about and how your body should move in class.

It wasn’t easy. Thinking about the front of your shins, the backs of your thighs, your wrists, your heel, and balance and twist without falling over is a challenge. But it’s a different kind of challenge than most yoga classes. It really forces you to be in the here and now and think about why you are engaging this way with your body.

Aaron’s class was a learning experience, but it was also playful. We jumped up and down, tried hand-balance poses so far beyond anyone in the class that we were laughing at their mere mention. While the class as a whole wasn’t physically challenging, there were opportunities to push myself — sometimes to success (I held crow my longest ever!), others to disaster (I roll what where? Huh? Wait, falling down isn’t supposed to happen…)

After class, I wasn’t tired. Hell, I wasn’t even sweaty. But that’s okay. I left with a better understanding of my practice, and a greater appreciation for how different teachers offer me different things.

And isn’t that the whole point?

Take this class if: you want to get back to the basics. It will take your practice to the next level, I swear!



Om Sweet Om: Detoxing at EnergyXchange


What: “Om Sweet Om” Detox Cocoa Sundays
When: Sunday @ 3pm
Where: EnergyXchange (698 Queen Street East)
Who: Shauna Ireland


I’ve been skeptical of EnergyXhange, despite being so close to my house, because I hate their website. The sound effects and flash animation drive me bananas. They just feel so over-the-top and unnecessary for a website that’s for a gym.

I finally caved on Sunday. After my epic running weekend, I wanted a class that was gentle and relaxing, and it looked like their 3pm “Detox” class would fit the bill. My initial thought? Detox = restorative. As in, lots of sleeping masquerading as exercise.


Soooo pretty!


It doesn’t. The class was 75 minutes of gentle, easy flowing. Lots of movement and breathing. It was a tad more intense than the yin and hatha classes I go to. Shauna, the teacher was professional and soothing, but she spent most of the class up front, demonstrating the poses. As someone who does a lot of stuff wrong (Of course I can touch my toes! You want me to put my leg there? Just watch me!), I found this a bit strange. It’s a fine way to lead a class, but it’s not for me. I like my teachers to get a little handsy.


Even their hallway is pretty.


The best part? Shauna gives you a little head massage at the end. Then feeds you chocolate. Any place that equates health with chocolate wins points with me.

EnergyXchange is stunning and their class schedule is extremely creative. I’m just disappointed I didn’t save my Passport for one of their “Joga” or “Gravity Turbo” classes instead. I can’t wait to look like an idiot during “Hip Hop Yoga.”


Take this class if: you’re an experienced yogi looking for something more low-key than your regular practice.







YaxTrax Attack!

Here’s a secret about Toronto: the winters are cold. And snowy. (I know, right? No one has ever told you that before.) This year, we’ve been really lucky, with little snow and mild weather. That changed this week, when temperatures dipped well below zero and Friday brought us our first substantial snowfall .

I don’t mind winter running, but, like many sane people, would like to avoid embarrassment — or worse, injury — by falling on the ice. So I was on the hunt for something that would make winter runs more interesting than out and backs on Queen Street.

Enter the YakTrax.


I put these....where?!


I discovered these snowshoe-like contraptions after reading a review on Run With Jess. After reading several more positive reviews online and finding out they were relatively cheap ($30 at Mountain Equipment Co-op), I decided to give them a go. I’ve spent $30 on stupider things in my life.

The YakTrax are basically a weird sandal that you slip over your shoe. The stainless steel coils act like spikes, cutting through ice and snow to give you a firm grip. I got a unisex medium (because I have GIANT lady feet) and they fit snugly, but weren’t difficult to get on. (I put them on wrong the first time. I figured that out quickly, thanks for the handy “toe” and “heel” labels!).


Success! Now to actually walk with these things...

Success! Now to actually walk with these things...


I decided to give them a try on a recovery run through the Don Valley Trail. It was snowy, icy and uneven — the perfect place for a test run.


Just like running on a treadmill, right?!


How’d they do? They passed with flying colours! I felt sure-footed and confident on ice and on packy snow. They weren’t bad on the parts of the trail that had been salted, either. They weren’t great in loose, powdery snow, but I have no plans to run frequently in that stuff. I just tried it for the sake of trying it today. Running was more difficult, thanks to the extra weight due to the YakTrax and the uneven terrain due to the ice, but not insurmountably so.

It was a challenge. I accepted. I won.

This photo is probably too cocky, isn't it?

I can’t wait to do it again.



The run:

7.0k @ 54:08

The route:


Studio Review: Get Spun

Thanks to my wonderful Mother, Santa knew exactly what to bring me for Christmas this year – anything fitness related. Oh yeah!

Low and behold 5 classes to Get Spun arrived just for me! While I’m still on break from my membership at the JCC, I decided to give it a try. So last Tuesday night, I signed up for the 45 minute spinning class with Christine Ness.


I forgot to take a picture inside the studio! Sorry!


The studio is literally steps away from my work (12 paces to be exact), therefore I have zero excuses for lunchtime workouts next week. The studio, although little on the small side, is cute and cozy and nowhere intimidating like some spinning studios tend to be (at least I think so anyway!). Christine was a delight. I felt great in her class but, afterwards felt as though I could have worked harder. I can’t blame the teacher for this. Either I’m not pushing myself hard enough or I’m a better spinner than I thought. I’ll go with the option two.

I’ve been to a fair amount of spinning classes in the city so far and I’ve come to realize music selection is key. I need to feel the beats to have a awesome class. And I wasn’t feeling the groove this particular night. I like it when a teacher mixes a track to their personal style – you feed off the teacher’s energy this way and I like that.

The best part about this place they offer more than just spinning. With Gravity and TRX training, classes such as the Ultimate Body Training Camp and Morning Bootcamp sound rather exciting. I like the thought of being excited to work out.

I will be sad once my 5 classes are up.




Studio Review: Oh My Soul Cycle

All I can say, 2012 look out. After my soul firing spinning class at SoulCycle the afternoon of New Years Eve (at the cute and flashy Union Square studio).

I stole this picture of their Union Square studio from their website. I hope they forgive me.

I felt unstoppable and inspired to take on the world. Corny? Maybe, but that Charlee is dam good at what she does. Charlee, the Soul teacher of my class, first introduced herself as the “Bitch from LA.” I was totally afraid.

But, to my surprise this bitch was the right amount of inspiration mixed with “I’m going to kick you ass”. She danced, she swore and almost made me cry with her words of inspiration and sights for 2012 – this could very well have been from the dark, and majestic mood of the classroom (we spun in the dark to candlelight).

Regardless, the 45 minute work out contained arm dips, running sprints, and core crunches! And if that wasn’t enough there was a complete arm workout at the end! Gah!

Me in NYC before my Soul Cycle workout. I am happy because I have yet to know what is in store for me.

With 2 pound lightweights for the last 10 minutes or so of the class, Charlee worked our triceps, biceps, and shoulders real good – we did arm raises, curls and lifts while spinning. True story.

The studio was warm, welcoming and gorgeous and the staff were super friendly and helpful. If I lived in New York I would be a Soul-oholic (only if my wallet could afford it). Someone needs to bring the Soul flavor to Toronto. And fast. If not, I may just do it myself.




Passport to Prana: Kula & The Yoga Sanctuary

I’ve been doing yoga, off and on, for about five years now. When we moved to Toronto, I became a dedicated student of Emma O’Neill for about two years, attending her Sunday morning class at The Yoga Sanctuary religiously. Emma is great and I highly recommend her, but once I started running, I found that I couldn’t do both long runs and an intense yoga class every weekend. So the yoga had to go. Since then, I’ve been bouncing around, trying to find the right mix of yoga and running, and trying to find classes that fit my hectic work schedule.

I haven’t found that yet. So I got a Passport to Prana.

For those not familiar with Passport to Prana, it’s an annual pass that let’s you try different yoga studios in the city. It’s available in Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Victoria, Vancouver, and Winnipeg (in addition to Toronto, of course!) and it’s A STEAL at $30. That’s right: $30 gives you access to what feels like a billion (it’s actually about 70) studios in Toronto, Oakville, Burlington and the surrounding areas. Even if you only go to three classes, it’s totally, completely worth it.

So I decided to try to chronicle my Toronto-yoga journey here. I have 52 weeks and plan to use the pass once a week, trying out as many studios and different kinds of yoga as I can.

Kula in the Annex

Class: Wednesday, 8:30pm Hot Hour
Teacher: Leah
Score: Nailing a headstand (with the teacher’s help and wall-support)

This class is a bit of a cheat. I’ve been to Kula before (it’s the home studio of my pal JK) and I love it. The temperature is right, and the teachers offer the right mix of challenges, playfulness and therapy. It can occasionally get too hokey for my tastes (a class I took near Valentine’s Day was love-themed), but overall, it’s my favorite studio I’ve been to so far. It’s just too far from my house to go to regularly. Boo.

Leah was a sub, and she was a new teacher. Her theme for the class was based on a card she got at a fairy reading — something about being playful and seeing things from a new angle. It worked better than some of the other themes I encountered. Leah’s transitions were rocky, but the class was exactly what I needed in the middle of CBC Books Giller madness.

The Yoga Sanctuary: Danforth

Class: Monday, 7:15pm, Yin
Teacher: Sue
Score: Almost falling asleep in savasana

Another cheat. Shhh, don’t tell the yoga studios! Sue’s yin class is the class I go to whenever I need to stretch and don’t want to do other yoga. I’ve been to a handful of yin classes at Moksha, but this one is hands-down my favourite. Sue is very cheerful and explanatory, which I enjoy, but she is repetitive. For example, she explains her theory behind how deer pose got its name in every class. Once a month is all I need here. But the studio is lovely and has the added bonus of being uphill and near a grocery store, so I can grab dinner supplies right after and then soar down Broadview on my way hom. (Okay, I get that this isn’t exactly fair crieria in my judging of yoga classes, but I’m new at this. Give me a break.) This class attracts a lot of newbies, which is great (welcome to yoga!) but it also means that if you look like you know what you are doing, you won’t get a lot of attention. And I like attention. I’m insecure like that.

That’s it. No more cheating. My next class needs to be a studio I’ve never been to before, with a teacher I’ve neve rhad before. I’m scared. And excited.

I just hope by the end of this I’ll be able to do a headstand.

I’ll also take real pictures next time.