An Ohm for One’s Own: Montreal Yoga on the Cheap

aym-title-logoIt was a bitter cold, gray Thursday, with the harsh, light kind of rain that feels just a hair away from snow – and to make the walk to class even worse every muscle in my body was sore from hitting the U’QAM gym a bit too hard the night before.

What better to brighten my day than some nice, relaxing yoga, at the preferred rate of college students: free?

Last week, Champlain’s director Genevieve Lord posted information about five free yoga classes offered around the city. I chose Ashtanga Yoga’s Thursday afternoon community class. Offered as a way for prospective instructors to get their feet wet in the studio, the hour-long course is led by different people each week and has no set style.

Ashtanga is a convenient five-minute walk from campus, on bustling St. Catherine Street. Even just the ashtangastudio’s small lobby was an oasis after walking along the crowded neon mainway outside. A sweet girl behind the counter had me sign on x agreeing that if I broke my back due to a lack of flexibility I wouldn’t sue, rented me a clean yoga mat for $2, informed me that shoes were to be taken off, and I settled barefoot in the hardwood, painting-strewn room to read an available magazine of yogi poetry and wait for my class to start. An incredibly beautiful, harmonized OHM rebounded from the end of the prior class and I made my way inside as the other students filtered out.

The community class was quite full, but not overcrowded. Our pack was an eclectic mix of college-age young adults and hip looking middle agers. After a few minutes of stretching and checking out the window’s view of the bookstore across the street, class began.

DSC02045-624x351Our day’s instructor, a tiny, loud, wire-y woman in jeggings and fluffy zebra print legwarmers, was a little bit high-strung. She messed up her commands a few times and continuously apologized for being frazzled. However, unlike any other yoga instructor I’ve experienced, rather than silently moving through the room and pressing the backs of people who were struggling, if she noticed a chunk of the class was performing a move incorrectly she would stop the whole class and demonstrate how to adjust one’s form, explaining exactly how each part of the body is affected by slight alterations. It wasn’t an advanced course by any means but the instructor used all the traditional names of moves (bhujangasana vs. cobra), so if one hadn’t done yoga before the class may have moved a bit too quickly.

But the panicked glances and extended pausing and comparing between every student, whenever our instructor’s view was turned and she quickly shouted a slew of barely discernable moves, revealed that most of the students were not intense practitioners but instead there to mooch a free offer and get a good stretch, too. In general the class was a relaxing, and rejuvenating, way to spend an hour between classes.

I walked back down the sidewalk home beaming and feeling renewed, muscles limber and spring to my feet. Let the temperature drop and the rain fall down, I’ve got my ohm to keep me warm.

Ashtanga Yoga is located at 372 Ste. Catherine West, suite 118, Montreal QC. This season offer two free community lessons, with a $2 fee to rent a mat if you don’t own one: Monday mornings from 8:30-9:30 am and Thursday afternoons from 2:00-3:00 pm.

– Melissa Nelson, Professionnel Writing Major, Fall 2014