the gift of yoga: what i’ve learned

In these final days of the Gift of Yoga, Kristine reflects on what she’s learned on and off the mat.

gift of yoga

With new international friends made through the Gift of Yoga.

offering yoga to the world

Some have responded to Vancouver’s skyrocketing population density by heading out of the city for a couple of weeks. Others have hurried towards the center of the action, decked out in patriotic uniforms and ready to party hardy with the rest of the world. Given this human tendency of ours to flock or flee from the crowd, you might wonder what happened the moment lululemon joined forces with YYoga and offered the gift of yoga to the world.

Has there been a stampede for bliss sessions to counter the mania happening in Vancouver and Whistler? Yes. And while a few probably balked at the notion of mat-to-mat down-dogging on the studio floor, I haven’t been repelled by the hubbub. Rather, I’ve been spending my Olympics right in the thick of it, where I can experience the energy, meet newcomers, and find out more about just who in the world does yoga.

gift of yoga map

Elim navigates the city with the Gift of Yoga map.

Yes, the women’s lockers might be as scarce as a table in a downtown Vancouver eatery, and the shoe room like a living mass that’s slowly creeping down off the shelves and into the hallway, but my overwhelming impression is that world contains a lot of courteous yogis. Those leaving offer up their precious lockers to those waiting for a space, and people are always happy to rearrange their mats on the floor to let in one more.

It’s thrilling when the instructors start their classes with a survey:

“Who here is from out of town?”
“Who here is visiting from another country?”
“Who here is trying yoga for the very first time?” and hands pop up in response to each question.

a downward dog is a downward dog

The most hardcore of Gift-of-Yoga yogis (and the teachers who teach them) have quickly become fond of that pub situated directly below the Earth studio of Flow YYoga on Burrard Street: every whoop and roar of victory alerts us to the precise status of the hockey games happening at the same time as class.

I’ve laughed heartily every time the hockey fans beneath the floor have shattered the silence of a Savasana end-of-class meditation; I’ve shed tears of emotion along with the woman who tried three times to get her Gift-of-Yoga passcard from lululemon Robson before using it to practice yoga for the first time in 30 years. I’ve dusted off my slightly rusty Japanese and used it to befriend the Japanese gift-recipients I’ve met in class, and together we’ve delighted in the bridges our yoga practice builds across cultures. After all, a downward dog is a downward dog, no matter what country you’re in.

The gift of yoga is a gift that keeps on giving. The crowds might be a little overwhelming, and the act of pushing yourself to the limits, grueling, but as any elite athlete, avid sports fan, or first-time yogi will tell you, the ongoing rewards, not to mention all of the happy memories of Vancouver, electrified, are well worth it.

Have you been in Vancouver to receive the Gift of Yoga during the month of February? Tell us your stories! And for those living outside of Vancouver and beyond, did you know that lululemon stores offer complimentary yoga classes year-round? Check in with your local store and find out how to receive your gift!

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That is a big awesome present.
I had a fabulous time in Yyoga with gift of yoga.
Meeting Kristine is the one of the present of those.

Comment by nami — February 27, 2010 @ 7:46 am

Reflecting back on all of the 17 days of the Gift of Yoga, I’m wishing it was still going on. Needless to say it was an absolutely amazing experience, not only working out and sweating in a totally different way (I do yoga usually once a week, but doing it 17 days straight was definitely something else) but meeting all the amazing people and the camaraderie that was either strengthened or formed during the length of the Olympics. I met a lot of new people (Including Kristine) and those relationships will most definitely last.

Comment by Brendan — March 4, 2010 @ 4:04 pm

I took advantage and loved it! in the city for 5 days, took 3 classes. never been so active on holiday, and the scale thanked me when i got home! it was amazing to try out different styles of yoga which i don’t normally at home. I also introduced a friend to yoga who had never been, and she is now hooked! (not to mention hooked on Lulu, too!)

Comment by callah — March 5, 2010 @ 1:41 pm

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