Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre Toronto

A yellow door on Harbord Street led me into a calm space amidst the hustle of the city. Sivananda Yoga Centre is an international not-for-profit whose mission is to spread peace, health and joy through yoga. Their Toronto location seems to be a renovated home. I walked in, and to my left was a large, open room (likely used as a smaller, second studio) full of books about yoga. There was a narrow hallway that led me to the reception. The staff were friendly and there was a nice community feel to the place. Down the stairs was a small sitting area and the "change rooms" which were actually just walk-in closets. Cozy. Upstairs was the studio, where they have mats laid down and little bean bag pillows for your head. I liked that they provided mats, though I had brought mine which I laid on top of theirs - extra cushioning yay. There was a nice balcony, with the door open letting in a light breeze. I practiced at their open class which is described as being "an intermediate level class on a drop-in basis, covering 12 basic postures, breathing and relaxation."

The class was 90 minutes long and focused on breath, first and foremost. The 6:30pm class was not at all crowded, only three other individuals practicing at this time. This was unlike any yoga class I've taken before, while the focus is always on breath, I've never spent such a long time solely on breath work. We began the class in savasana, with a song that the teacher sang. Followed by maybe 15 minutes of breathing exercises, kapalabhati (where you exhale and snap your belly), nadi shodhan (alternate nostril breathing), long inhales, holding our breath for 50 seconds and then taking long exhales. I definitely had some trouble holding my breath for that long, but my lungs felt cleansed af afterwards. The remainder of the class were sun salutations, various other postures (like slowed-down leg lifts) and some headstand work. Between every series change, there was a savasana break. The teacher's voice was very soothing and she would cue the savasana break with a musical "om".

I'm used to leaving unheated yoga classes wanting to feel more at peace but I found myself feeling so calm and grounded. The time spent on breathing felt really long to me while it was happening, but I felt the positive effects of it afterwards. Perhaps we should all spend a little bit more time breathing.

Also offered are advanced classes, group meditation, and pujaThey offer a free trial class on Sundays at 4pm! Check 'em out!

Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre Toronto
77 Harbord Street