Six months of Passport to Prana down, one more to go

February 2, 2010

The Toronto Passport to Prana expires at the end of the month. Since buying it in August, I’ve managed to try a class at 24 different studios. Not bad…it’s not as many as I’d have liked to have tried so far, but things got in the way (travel, the holidays and a few colds and coughs that knocked me out for weeks at a time).

(For those of you unfamiliar with Passport to Prana, the pass costs $30 and it entitles you to one class at each of the participating yoga studios until the specified expiry date for your city’s Passport to Prana. The program is currently available in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver and it just launched this week in San Francisco.)

With one month to go, and a current Montreal Passport to Prana Giveaway (enter now!) I thought I’d give you an honest review of my experience thus far with the Toronto passport:

My favourite class

Vinyasa 1 with Fiona at YogaSpace. The room is clean and airy and large enough to accomodate the many students in attendance. She played new age-y-type music during the candlelit class and I always appreciate having  music on (there’s only so much ujayi breathing I can listen to without getting bored).

And there was something about the way she led the class that made me really want to try and do all of the vinyasas as best I could. “Don’t you give it your all every class?” you ask? Nope. I’ll admit it, sometimes my effort is half-assed.  (especially so if I’m feeling frustrated and thus discouraged — more on that later). There was just something about Fiona’s instruction I personally found really inspiring.

My least favourite classes (it’s a tie)

Moksha Yoga Danforth, where an ashtanga class takes place in “reduced heat”

I should preface this by making it clear that hot yoga is my biggest nightmare. Not that I’ve ever tried it, but me and heat are not a good match and I had no plans to try any of the studios offering only hot yoga. So here’s a tip for everyone who also is not a fan of heat: If a class is offered at a hot yoga studio and is described as “reduced heat”, “reduced heat” is not, I repeat not, regular room temperature. At Moksha Yoga Danforth, I was right next to the thermostat and it hovered around 29 degrees. And the only place I want to be in that kind of temp is taking a dip in the ocean, not dripping sweat doing sun salutations in a dark, grubby room. And yes, I understand it wasn’t technically hot yoga temperature, but “reduced heat”? Misleading!

Kula Yoga Toronto, where a Basic class is not so basic

“Extend yourself from the Earth,” said the teacher, in that heartfelt tone yoga teachers use.

“I’d like to extend myself away from this class!” is what I thought in my head, having just mouthed “I. Am. Not. Happy,” to my friend on the next mat over.

I’m sorry, but if a class is Basic, I don’t think that the five increasingly advanced levels a certain posture should be instructed and more than that, when nearly every student can accomplish the most difficult level, the studio should consider altering the class description for that time slot.

I understand the teacher needs to tailor the class to the level of students in attendance, but the not-basic instruction and yogis around me just served to frustrate the hell out of me. And  yes, I totally get that this goes against what yoga is all about — it’s not competitive or about feeling inadequate. It’s all about being present and recognizing how you are feeling that day and using that knowledge to guide your practice…but I still think a Basic class should be just that, with a focus on proper alignment of the basic postures at a moderate pace.

Poorest customer service

I’d like to end things on a positive note, but to arrive for a class at Energia Athletics and find out the class was cancelled that because there was training happening that day and that “if you were a regular or if you’d called, you would have known,” that simply is just not good enough. Was it posted on the website, you know, where that thing called the schedule is posted? No. Could they have shown a little more finesse in handling this situation? Yes.

Don’t get me wrong — I love trying different teachers and comparing different types of yoga and teaching methods. And the price is a steal, when a single yoga class can typically set you back about $16!

Other tips on getting the most out of your Passport to Prana:

Arrive 10 minutes before the class is scheduled to start. Since you’ll be going to studios you’ve never visited, there’ll be forms and waivers to complete, so budget in time for this. Besides, you’ll get to nab your preferred spot in the class (You’ll find me to the side of the middle of the class, in case you were wondering).

Be prepared to spend time researching classes and schedules online. The Passport to Prana website keeps a log of which studios you’ve tried, très convenient! But finding a class that suits your schedule and preferences can be time-consuming. But on the plus side, there are so many classes and studios to choose from, you can almost always find one that fits your needs…

…Unless you’re only able to go to classes on the weekend. Know that on Saturdays and Sundays, most classes tend to be held around 10:30 or 11 am. Which will be difficult if you have a conflict. This timing of classes can also make going for brunch a headache (If you’ve ever tried to get a table at noon at Saving Grace or Lady Marmalade, then you’re familiar with the very long wait at that time, too!).

How about you? Have you been enjoying using the Passport to Prana? Has trying different types of yoga and new teachers affected your practice? Do tell!

P.S. Already excited for the next Passport to Prana for Toronto? You’ll have to wait til its launch in April.

Filed under: Fitness Swellness,Healthy Swellness

Tags: , , , , ,

8 Comments Leave a Comment

  • 1. Kat  |  February 2, 2010 at 2:46 PM

    24? I was impressed with my 15!

    I agree that YogaSpace is one of the top studios in the city. I’ve never had a bad class there.

    I love the Passport to Prana program, it’s given me the push to try lots of new studios so that now I feel comfortable shopping around when I need a class. (I’ve been doing yoga for ages so I’m always looking for the more advanced ones.) I would actually say to go 15 minutes ahead for most studios, especially if it’s an after-work class.

  • 2. healthandswellness  |  February 2, 2010 at 10:34 PM

    Ha ha, I’ve been going for “ages”, too (first class more than 10 years ago, granted I haven’t always gone regularly) and still consider myself level 1!

  • 3. healthandswellness  |  February 2, 2010 at 10:35 PM

    Ok, and now I feel better about my 24! My original goal was to attend every studio except for the only hot yoga ones. Alas, life got in the way!

    What type of yoga do you prefer, and are you into hot yoga?

  • 4. Kat  |  February 2, 2010 at 10:39 PM

    I love hot – just started it a year ago. (My first Iyengar class was almost 15 years ago!) Not a fan of Bikram, but I like Moksha. I find hot yoga makes me more flexible and I feel awesome afterward.

    But I still find time for Ashtanga and flow classes, esp at YogaSpace, or Ian at the Sanctuary is awesome.

    Also, I’m a terrible overachiever. Apparently yoga hasn’t cured that, so I aim for the hard classes…

  • 5. Switching to whole-grain &hellip  |  February 10, 2010 at 12:13 PM

    […] almost as high as bacon does in terms of my favourite ingredients. So when I came home starving after a yoga class this Sunday, it was the perfect super-quick meal to pull […]

  • 6. Yoga studio review series&hellip  |  March 7, 2010 at 7:11 PM

    […] If you’re looking to compare notes, KLJ also got the passport and reviewed a few studios at her blog, Working up a sweat in Toronto. Karen Kwan also offers her TO passport experience summary at Health and Swellness. […]

  • 7. Turkish delight « H&hellip  |  March 30, 2010 at 9:18 AM

    […] 30, 2010 Hot yoga is not for me, but I’ve accidentally found myself in a “reduced heat” class more than a few times and walking over the grubby floor in my bare feet made me shudder — the […]

  • 8. Look like you do yogaR&hellip  |  April 26, 2010 at 2:55 PM

    […] The 2010 Passport for the T-Dot launches officially this Saturday, May 1st, and expires February 28, 2011. Think of how many downward dogs you can accomplish in all that time. This year, there are close to 70 — yeppers, SEVENTY — studios for you to try out. (Don’t know how Passport to Prana works? Check out my review.) […]

Leave a Comment


(required), (Hidden)

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

TrackBack URL  |  RSS feed for comments on this post.

Recent Posts


Recent Comments