Posted by: Nikkey Ward
Guest Author: Nikkey Dawn W.
As well as working for The Whistler Insider, Nikkey is a freelance creative who specializes in design and also happens to be a yoga instructor. You can see more of her work here.
Whistler’s active lifestyle, free-spirited community and downright soul-satisfying views make yoga a natural fit for this place. It is not uncommon to see a Downward Dog or Warrior II at the beach, on the lush grass of Whistler Olympic Plaza or on a mountain top. It is believed the original yogis, the Vedics, took deep into the woods and caves to hone their practice. But before you get the headlamp out, keep in mind the development of contemporary asanas (postures) took place much later, likely both indoors and outdoors. So it begs the questions – where is the BEST place to practice yoga?
At a Studio
Studio owners put a lot into making their space peaceful and free of distractions so that you can really tune-in and unify the body, breath and mind – the intention of yoga. Basics like a level floor and available props are just the beginning of the benefits of practicing yoga in a controlled environment. Instructors are able to communicate clearly, make adjustments and create an atmosphere using lighting, music and sometimes scents. Studios also provide a hub for community and many people enjoy having a ‘home’ studio where they feel comfortable and supported to grow.
Whistler offers three yoga studios in the Village and one each in the neighbourhoods of White Gold, Creekside and Function Junction – all with a unique vibe and different styles of yoga. You could go to a class every day of the week and never do the same one twice. Drop-in passes are a great option for visitors and available at all of the local studios. Yama Yoga and White Gold Yoga also offer Karma (or Community) Classes so even those on a ski bum budget can reap the benefits of a yoga practice.
In the Great Outdoors
A healthy yoga instructor population and more beautiful outdoor spaces than indoor studio space have given rise to a strong outdoor yoga trend in Whistler. Your senses receive a lot more input outside – making it more challenging to truly practice. While making shapes with your body is still fun, it is important to realize if you can’t tune-in with distractions present (like flying Frisbees or friendly dogs) you can open yourself up to potential injury. Especially if the ol’ ego makes an appearance, encouraging you to unsafely push your limits or rush through your practice self-consciously.
At the same time, heightened senses and aligning with nature can greatly enhance your experience. The key to practicing outdoors is picking your location (and time) carefully and starting with shorter sequences until your focus improves. There is nothing like breathing in the fresh mountain air during pranayama or feeling the grounding energy of the earth beneath your feet. Locals’ favourite outdoor yoga spots include Alpha Lake, on-mountain along the snow walls of an ancient glacier and by the Fitzsimmons Creek at Rebagilati Park. For those who love the calming effect of water, stand up paddleboard yoga or SUP Yoga is a totally unique way to practice that can be done on any of Whistler’s lakes, with classes offered by Backroads Whistler, The Adventure Group and Whistler Eco Tours all summer long.
At a Festival or Event
Inspiring backdrop? Check. World-class instructors? Yep. Warm fuzzies from the energy of the crowd? Guaranteed. Attending a yoga event or festival is a one of a kind experience, and can be a great introduction to practicing outdoors. It also gives you the chance to learn from instructors you wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to. Here’s a few Whistler yoga events just around the corner:
108 FUNdraiser, June 26
This event at Whistler Olympic Plaza will have some of the Corridor’s favourite yoga instructors leading attendees through 108 Sun Salutations with music and entertaining local MC, Ryan Proctor. The 108 FUNdraiser proceeds will go to relief efforts in Syrian refugee camps and the families resettling in Whistler and Squamish. The Sea to Sky community is one-of-a-kind for having fun while supporting those in need and this event should be no different!
Wanderlust, July 28 – August 31
You may have heard of this little shindig before… it is a four day festival with SO many different types of yoga to experiment and play with. Wanderlust has something for everyone, including outdoor concerts and a lecture series, Speakeasy. World-renowned speakers will be exploring topics such as Doing What You Love, The Spiritual Practice of Fitness and What Yoga Has To Do with Tinder. You can also get into the flow with the outdoor adventure options- guided hikes, trail runs, ziplining, and rafting.
Cornucopia Nourish Retreat, November 17 – 20
This fall retreat to re-connect with what feeds you and immerse yourself in community at Cornucopia Whistler. Each day is greeted with meditation and yoga before fueling your body with healing local foods prepared by expert chefs. Afternoons are spent exploring Whistler’s landscape and rich history before thought-provoking seminars where you’ll gain the tools for self-care and a life of balance.
Yoga’s history is steeped in myth and mystery and we may never determine the BEST place to practice but the gurus have always made one thing clear – it is the intention behind your practice that counts. However or wherever you practice, there is no ‘bad’ yoga!
Visiting Whistler for the Tough Mudder Half? Stay a day and stretch out and restore those tired muscles with a little yoga at the 108 FUNdraiser followed by a trip to the spa. Or if you want to immerse yourself in yoga make the trip for Wanderlust Whistler – you can find accommodation and more at Whistler.com.