BRITISH COLUMBIA

Vancouver Yoga Studios: Where To Find Your Inner Peace

11/02/2013 01:07 EDT | Updated 11/03/2013 05:19 EST
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Vancouver offers so many paths to yogic peace, it's hard to know which one to choose.

But there's something for everyone in the city's abundance of yoga styles and studios, says Christine Price Clark, a teacher trainer at the Vancouver School of Yoga.

"Yoga is a practice that brings people together," she told The Huffington Post B.C.

"It brings you more together from the inside, gives you a place you can always call home no matter where you are."

Clark says that particular yoga styles appeal to different kinds of people. Some may be attracted to the physical aspects, others the spiritual side.

Hatha yoga is the art in its most basic form, using simple asanas (poses) and breathing techniques at a slow pace, with close attention to postural alignment. The practice is perfect for beginners because it allows them to learn postures that they will encounter in many other types of yoga.

It is offered at most venues around the city including Semperviva and YYoga, Vancouver's biggest studios.

Check out the styles of yoga that are available in Vancouver and the studios where you can do them. The story continues below the slideshow:

Vancouver Yoga Styles

Practitioners looking for a more spiritual approach may be interested in Kundalini, a style of yoga that dates back to 500 BC. The aim is to relax the spirit using a series of asanas, meditation, chanting and breathing exercises such as inhaling through alternate nostrils and the Breath of Fire, which involves breathing in concert with abdominal contractions.

Kundalini is offered at a number of studios but Yoga West brands itself as the home of the art in Vancouver, offering classes and teacher training.

Ashtanga Yoga also appeals to those seeking a spiritual experience. Students must follow eight steps on a path to inner peace.

The first four are known as "external yoga," and involve physical exercises and breath control. The last four are known as "internal yoga," and consist of meditating and reflection on how the practitioner relates to their sense organs.

It is offered at numerous studios including Ashtanga Yoga Vancouver and Babylon Yoga Shala.

Athletes looking to break a sweat have any number of intense yoga styles to choose from.

Vinyasa Flow is one of them. Siobhan Keely, staff manager at Yogacara Studios, describes the style as more energetic than Hatha.

"The term 'flow' refers to the fact that the practitioner is 'flowing' from one pose to the next, often in a sun salutation, and the flow being coordinated with the inhalation and exhalation of the breath," she says.

Bikram and Moksha will also make you sweat, if only because they're practiced in warm settings.

Bikram uses 26 specific asanas in a hot room in order to flush toxins out of the body. Moksha, meanwhile, has 40 poses and classes are organized around a theme, whether breathing or abdominal strength.

Power yoga appeals to athletes because it focuses less on meditation than intense physical movements. Muscle endurance and burning calories are the central aims, while yin yoga is a slower style that's recommended for athletes. The practice uses long poses in order to reach down into the bones and ligaments.

Power, Vinyasa Flow and Yin Yoga are all available at Yaletown's Westcoast Hot Yoga.

For injured practitioners, Keely recommends Restorative yoga, which is available at Yogacara Studios.

"It's a very relaxing class," she says. "Your body is boosted by bolsters and props, as well as it relaxes your mind. As a result, you're helping yourself heal."

In Iyengar, a wide range of poses is accentuated by the use of props such as ropes, belts, blocks and wooden gadgets. Poses can be simple or extremely difficult, and can be adapted to a particular student's needs. The Yoga Space on Fraser Street is a studio dedicated to the practice.

People seeking a unique approach to yoga also have plenty of options around the city. Chair yoga, a less strenuous approach that allows students to carry out poses sitting up, has proven very popular with seniors.

Meanwhile, Anti-Gravity yoga suspends students in hammocks three feet off the ground, increasing the space between one's vertebrae and relieving back pain. It's available at Steve Nash Sports Club on Granville Street downtown.

Finally, for the kids, there's YogaButtons Studio, which teaches yoga poses inspired by nature and combines them with games, music, stories, crafts and more.

Whatever your needs, in Vancouver, there's definitely a yoga for that.