|Ashtanga Yoga Victoria|
“Mysore” is the traditional way of learning Ashtanga yoga and is named after the Indian city where Phattabi Jois lived. Mysore is a self led practice, through Ashtanga postures (also called Asanas). This “self-practice” is performed under the guidance of a highly experienced teacher, who helps the student advance through the series by teaching new asanas when it is safe to do so.
|Reception and boutique|
Since Mysore is a self-led practice, you can practice any time you want and for as long as you want. There are long sessions of Mysore classes on their schedule and you would drop in when it’s convenient for you. Another benefit is the individual attention you get from the instructor. Since everyone is doing their own thing, the instructor will walk around and help you with what you are currently working on. Lastly, Mysore is great for working at your own pace. For example, if you have injuries that require modification, the instructor will show you different asanas to work on.
|Women’s change room and mat storage|
Unfortunately, it was the last day of my short vacation at Victoria, BC so my schedule was rather tight. I wasn’t able to try the Mysore class but I did join their Hips ‘n’ Hammies class, led by Sachiko Walton.
Ashtanga Yoga Victoria is located in the heart of downtown Victoria at 560 Johnson St. As with downtown locations, parking can be a little hard to find but there are definitely options. The closest parkade is the Bastion Square Parkade, which offers the first hour for free! The studio is located on the second floor of a quaint building with high ceilings and beautiful windows.
|Men’s change room|
The studio spreads out through a few units on the second floor of the building. The receptionist, boutique and changes rooms are located in unit #203 and the main shala is in the unit just adjacent to it. The washrooms are accessible in the building using a key from the receptionist.
When you enter, you will be greeted warmly by the receptionist behind the desk. There is an assortment of yoga gear for sale, featuring Manduka yoga mats, clothing, towels and bottles of Ayurvedic potions. Do be sure to arrive earlier if this is your first visit as the check-in process requires an online waiver form and payment system. I really liked the idea of going paperless since it’s so eco-friendly and they even email you a copy of the waiver!
The women’s and men’s change rooms are small rooms tucked away in a hallway behind the receptionist, with the women’s being slightly larger. Both rooms offer mat storage space should you want to keep them there, although I’m not sure if there is a rental fee.
Since I wasn’t accustomed to yoga studios being in separate suites, I stumbled into an empty room behind the change rooms and thought that was the studio. It was small, but so beautiful – exposed brick walls, gorgeous windows and so warm! Unfortunately, Sachiko chased after me and told me the shala is in the unit next door. Oops!
The main studio room (shala) was even more beautiful. It had almost floor-to-ceiling windows, making the room invitingly warm and bright on a cold winter day. The shala can comfortably fit 12 yoga mats with plenty of space between you and your neighbours and allow the instructor to walk freely.
|Props – bolsters, yoga blocks, straps|
After committing to a barre class the day before, the Hips ‘n’ Hammies class was perfect to stretch my tired and cramping muscles. Sachiko led the class through a few Sun Salutations A and B series to warm up our bodies for the asanas. The stretches consisted of a variety of standing forward bends, standing hand to big toe (front and side), dancers pose, triangle pose, lizard pose, seated straddle poses and pigeon poses. These poses were great for opening the hips and hamstrings, as advertised in the class name and description. Throughout my yoga practice, I’ve become pretty familiar with these poses and often use them to train for my flexibility. For this class, I was hoping to learn a few more poses to incorporate into my practice, and receive feedback and adjustments on what I was currently doing.
|The secret room I stumbled into!|
Ashtanga Yoga Victoria specializes in Ashtanga yoga (evident in the name!) and a Mysore style of teaching. AYV embraces the yogic traditions and practice, rather than making significant modifications to cater to the western mainstream fitness classes. The studio is a great introduction to the history and philosophy of yoga – from calling it a shala instead of ‘studio’, dedicating many web pages and resources to enlighten students on what yoga is, and the deity statue and photos of gurus at the front of the room. With the breathtaking high ceilings and grandeur windows, you’re sure to find inner peace as you settle into your practice with AYV.