Free Zen Takes Toronto

In a city divided by politics and culture, Torontonians are unified by their commitment to being busy and staying stressed.  The trouble is, many have no idea that they’re committed to this lifestyle and that they may, in fact, be addicted to stress.

Tuja wellness decided to do a little social experiment by trying to bring 30 seconds of relaxation to a city known more for going than for letting go. As a yoga and meditation teacher, I planted myself in the financial district with a sign that said “Free Zen.”  The producers for tuja wellness assured me that it could do no harm. In the worst-case scenario, I’d embarrass myself and have to nurse a few emotional wounds after a day of aggressive rejection.  But, I was reminded, in the best-case scenario, people would remember that it’s the simple things – a deep breath or an unexpected detour – that can release stress and open up an opportunity to change your whole perspective on the day.

So, did I find the best or the worst case scenario on the busy streets of Canada’s biggest city?  Luckily, we videotaped the whole thing so we could share the results with everyone.

Courtney Sunday writes the Everyday Mindfulness column for tuja wellness and teaches yoga and meditation in Toronto. 

Yoga On-the-Go: 8 Unique Global Studios

10568908_811011888939591_5349308521966414934_nThere is nothing that I find more inspiring than enjoying a beautiful yoga practice between explorations, feeling the vital breath and energy that renews and invigorates the spirit during an empowering journey through this extraordinary world of ours. That’s why I always bring my yoga mat; you never know when you are going to happen upon the perfect place to practice!

Yoga gives us a “time out” and a “tune in”. It’s an incredible opportunity to slow down during any hectic time and re-focus our energy into the possibility of becoming strong, grounded, and centered. Even when you’re on the move, traveling to any and all exotic locations, taking the space to practice yoga can enhance the experience that you are having. Also, who doesn’t love a little bit of yoga in a place that you have never visited before?

The research was done and we found eight bliss-inducing studios around the globe that will help you sweat, stretch and get your flow on! With your passport in hand, be sure to do yourself a favor and check in to them when the wind leads you to your destination:

1. YogaTree Studios, Toronto, Canada: “Come grow with us” is the slogan, and how very apt it is! With four yoga studios in the Greater Toronto Area, including a fifth location to be added this fall, YogaTree is ready to meet you in the midst of a this bustling, Canadian city. Each studio has its own unique design, catering the vibe to the energy of each unique area of Toronto, and with classes that range from Hot Yoga and Ashtanga to Restorative and Beginner’s Yoga, there is truly something for everyone. An experience not to be missed!

 2. Liberation Yoga, Los Angeles, United States: You walk in, and you immediately feel at home. The studio is designed with comfort, love, and kindness in mind; rice paper lanterns, beautifully painted murals, andde licious Nag Champa incense wafting through every carefully crafted room. There is an enclosed garden attached to the space, so indoor and outdoor classes are part of the menu. Expect a fun, welcoming, youthful vibe and a variety of classes to keep you both pumped and zenned!

3. Rituel Studio, Paris, France: Miss out on your yoga while vacationing in France? “Paris” the thought! Rituel Studio has everything you’d expect in a classic French vibe, mixed with the intensive strength of a fortified yoga and fitness studio. Here, you will find pilates, cardio classes, and yoga for a blend that creates a fit body and calm mind. They even have classes for kids! When in Paris, be sure to stop by for the best of all yogic worlds.

4. Yoga Shala, Reykjavik, Iceland: Amidst the scenic ,Nordic beauty of the incomparable country of Iceland stands Yoga Shala, a bright and blissful space ready to fulfill all of your yoga desires. With reasonable drop in rates, a variety of classes (including Ashtanga, Acro Yoga and Mysore), this studio is the perfect stop for the valiant-hearted adventurer. Classes are taught in English as well as Icelandic, so you will never feel left out of the loop!

5. Hamsa Yoga Studio, Copenhagen, Denmark: Get ready for the ultimate in wellness! When it comes to a healthy life in mind, body, and soul, the people of Denmark really make the grade. This gorgeous and unique studio has nearly eveyr type of class imaginable, whether you like to feel your heart race, or you need to take a moment to wind down. There is also a wellness clinic attached, so make sure to enjoy a skin treatment or thai yoga massage after your practice!

 6.  Karma Yoga, Shaghai, China: Vast open studios in the heart of a historic and metropolitan Asian city? How could you skip it?! This studio is warm, bright, and positively enchanting. Located in the heart of Shanghai, you’ll find everything here from power yoga, to beginner’s classes, to meditation workshops and wellness clinics. This studio is all about living the life of the yogi, and you are guaranteed to get the full, authentic experience from the moment you walk through the doors. Outstanding!

7. YogaCara Healing Arts, Mumbai, India: Here, you are communing with the source. Yoga began in India, and so it is an impossibly humbling experience to join in the very origins of your practice. There are classes for all yoga needs, including Ivengar, a type of Hatha Flow that strongly integrates Pranayama breathing with strong, stable movements. You will also find a wellness clinic with massage options, a zen garden, workshops, and a teacher training institute. Be sure to make the trip!

8. Abundance Yoga and Pilates, Auckland, New Zealand: A gorgeous yoga experience in one of the most gorgeous parts of the world! With a strong focus on building strength and endurance in the body, Adundance has some of the best Power Yoga and Pilates classes that you can find, guaranteeing that you will feel refreshed and revitalized with each class. Their community is incredibly open to the stories of new travellers and visitors, so don’t be surprised if they offer you and opportunity to stay with them full time!

Yoga is Universal. It is a fascinating thing to observe how different parts of the world work with their practice and integrate teachings into their daily lives. Having your mat with you throughout the world is not only important to the yogic journey, but it is also a doorway into the soul of your practice. Be prepared for a stretch and a sweat, and you will have the world’s love at your fingertips.


Lauren is a guest writer for the Huffington Post and Social Media Coordinator in Toronto.



David Good on Dharma: That without which nothing can stand

633501560dcd11e39f1222000aeb0ea1_7We can go though life set on auto pilot. Waking up at the same time every day, hitting snooze twice, commuting to work with our ear buds shoved in to dull out our boredom or worse, what if you had to talk to someone we see everyday. We work, head home, watch NetFlixs and start all over again the next day. But what if we stepped off this carousel and asked ourself what do you stand for? What is our Dharma? Does life have a purpose?

This question is a big one that can sometimes induce fear because most of the time we know we are not living a life full of purpose. We sell ourselves short by compromising just to get by. What if you started with baby steps by asking ourself some valuable questions?

What if you saw fear as an opportunity to grow? 

When we look fear in the eye and realize we don’t have to react in a fight or flight response we can start to develop a capacity to handle more of life’s stresses. We can withstand anything because we know its a true opportunity being given to us to grow and get to know ourselves deeper.

Can you speak the truth?

Its going to take all your courage to stand tall and always speak the truth to everyone all the time. No more white lies. Take a deep breath and do it. If you find yourself reaching for a lie, tell the person you have to get back to them with your answer and then make sure you do. Its going to be a little rough and bumpy but people will soon value you as a person they can count on for the truth. On the flip side some people aren’t looking for the truth so be ready for that.

What if you always kept your word?

This one is big, you are going to have to learn to say no if you know you can’t do it. Practice it right now, say NO. You can’t say yes all the time and become the canceller. Soon you will get less and less invites, people will learn they can’t depend on you. Keep your word, think about it before you say yes, can you actually deliver. Become a rock in your life and others. s

Do you have teachers and mentors you can look up to and learn from?

Having teachers and mentors we set our sites on a higher value system. I am not saying teachers and mentors are perfect, actually its better if they are not. But its great to have someone to learn from. Find someone who’s values are close to what you aspire to and spend sometime with them. Successful people hang out with successful people.

Are you willing to keep learning?

Become a student of life. Gobble up books, articles, you tube videos, and take a course you always wanted to take. To really get to know what you stand for you need to get out there and discover the world a bit. Try stuff, make mistakes, learn stuff and find out what your values are. The world is waiting for you.

When we start to get clearer we can stand up a little taller because we know what we stand for. Life is going to get a lot more interesting and you are going to have to be okay with being a little uncomfortable. Living your dharma is not the safe route but its going to be a whole lot more fun.

Screen-Shot-2013-04-24-at-4.37.55-PM-250x378David’s passion is sharing his love for the practice of yoga with over 500 hours YTT, Restorative, Therapeutic and Meditation training under his belt. He asks you to meet yourself on the mat everyday. David’s teaching style is fun, inclusive and accessible to every level. Whether you are a total beginner or a seasoned enthusiast you will walk away learning something about your practice which is bound to enrich your life. Based in Toronto, but never shy to travel around the world  to share his love for yoga with as many people as he can.


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