As promised in an earlier post, I will touch on one of my fave affordable fitness programs out there right now, Passport to Prana.
The premise is simple. For $20 yogis purchase a pass that gives card holders one class at nine (formerly 10, but one seems to have left the program for whatever reason) different yoga studios across the city. Pass holders are told to show up 15 mins prior to class time (there are no restrictions to the class time or type) in order to sign in properly. Studios that are part of the program enter your pass # into the Passport to Prana system, and Passport to Prana ticks off that you’ve been to that studio and ask that you fill in a survey about your experience. The survey is not necessary, but it does enter you into a draw for some slick yoga gear.
The program has spread like wildfire across Canada and the US. In Toronto you can pick up at $30 pass that gives you access to 60 studios! This is the first year for Passport to Prana to appear in Winnipeg, so fingers crossed it continues for another year. The card expires June 30, 2011—still plenty of time to try out the studios. I’m loving it so far!
To get your hands on a card, all you need to do is visit the Passport to Prana website. Note: if you’re going to do this with friends (like my co-workers did) then it’s better to order multiple cards at once as there is a $3.00 mailing fee for two cards or less ($1 for each additional card) attached to each order.
I’ve been to 7/9 of the studios on the list so far and have tried everything from flow to Moksha to Iyengar to Bikram styles of yoga. The studios and teachers all have different vibes and styles that each have their pros and cons. Some may prefer a more disciplined practice while other people just want to relax and let their inner hippy shine.
My experience at Bluemoon Wellness Centre on Sunday definitely fell into the latter category.
Who: Bluemoon Wellness Centre
Where: 684 Osborne Street South, (Upper Level). There’s a teeny tiny sign in the upper window from the outside.
Best for: All levels who want to get up close and personal with a friendly teacher in an intimate setting
Style: Slow flow yoga practice (there are many other styles, but this review is based on this particular class).
Time: 10:30-11:45, Sundays.
Studio: Tiny. I can’t imagine it fitting more than 8 people in the studio comfortably. The website charmingly calls it a “boutique-style” setting. The hardwood floors are nice and clean; they don’t creak too much. A pole in the left centre of the room is a bit of a shame that cuts up the space. Words like “Relax” and “Live” set the relaxing atmosphere of the room; a golden cross-legged frog statue is a playful and whimsical touch. Amber painted walls with dark brown accents and cream-coloured window shades are all soothing earth tones. There are no mirrors. Hippy/oceanic (not too new age-y) music plays throughout the practice–it suited the room and yoga style, although some may find it distracting. Mats are available to use if you forget/don’t have one, which is always a bonus. I couldn’t spot a mat rental fee anywhere either. Foam block supports are also provided and there are some colourful blankets for use as well.
Vibe: Laid-back, chilled and welcoming. Sometimes an intimate space can be intimidating since everyone can see every little move you make. There is nobody to hide behind. But when you have a friendly instructor then it can be a really positive experience. In this case, the teacher greeted the other two classmates by name with a warm smile and some friendly chatter. She asked a few questions about my practice experience and didn’t make me feel like an outsider at all. Lots of smiles all around.
Cost: Used my Passport to Prana card. First time class is only $5! Drop-in is $14. Class passes are value priced: 5 classes $60, 10 classes $95. Unlimited pass for one month is $70, 2 months is $130 and three months is $175. Those are some of the cheapest passes I’ve found in the city from what I can recall. I noticed a cash box in the studio, so it’s unclear if they take credit cards/debit. I’m assuming you could use cards through the massage side of the business (see bonus).
Experience: I was sore after this class, but that was probably mainly due to the fact I haven’t practiced yoga in a few weeks. As the flows repeated I could feel my body open up through each sequence. For the final series of breathing, I felt my breath flow through my upper body much more freely after all that opening up. I felt rather tired after this class though. I went home to nap for 1.5 hours when normally I feel energized. I assume the relaxing breathing at the end knocked me out. The class also started a bit late and ran a bit long, which was fine in my case, but could be problematic if you’re on a tight schedule.
Bonus: There is a massage parlour attached to the studio. Prices are pretty reasonable too: 30 mins, $35, 45 mins $45, 1 hr $60, 1 1/2 hr $90. I’m thinking of booking a massage there in the near future as the reception area looked pretty cute and I liked the unpretentious, relaxed vibe of the studio.