Finding Your Om in the Concrete Jungle

Published: June 22nd 2010
in News » Local

Torontonians partake in yoga at Yonge and Dundas Square

Helping Torontonians find peace in the midst of urban chaos, Elevate to Exhale came to Yonge and Dundas Square on Monday, an event put together by Toronto yoga and cycling studio, Spynga.


The event was inspired by a similar yoga-themed gathering held in New York’s Times Square, called Mind Over Madness, urging city-dwellers to find their inner calm in a swirl of urban activity.


According to Casey Soer, one of the co-founders of Spynga, it was in a coffee shop in New York where the idea to meld the seemingly opposing workout styles was born.


After dragging one another to each other’s class of choice, “we just started to see that with an accessible teacher, with someone who didn’t take things so seriously, we could get into both,” said Soer.


“We are very anti-gym,” Soer told Shalom Life, speaking of herself and longtime friend, Sari Nisker. “We wanted to create a space and environment where people of different types could be in a community while working out, with no judgment, and no mirrors, so it’s more about the internal versus the external.”


Yonge and Dundas Square, then, is perhaps the perfect location to overcome the juxtaposition of busy and laid back, being the proverbial eye of the bustling storm that is Toronto; its bicycle spoke-like crosswalks alone can be enough to throw anyone into a dizzying agoraphobic haze.


“Our philosophy is to really expose people to two practices that can be intimidating in their own right, spinning and yoga,” said Soer. “We converted a lot of people from Type A crazy spinners [cyclists], like me, who feel they can’t wrap their heads around yoga, and converted yogis into those who will do something more cardiovascular and somewhat intense.”


“The two [yoga and spinning] are quite similar in a lot of ways,” continued Soer, “in terms of balancing a workout; so we [Soer and Nisker] created Spynga, our trademark class of half cycling, half yoga. The yoga is off bike, but there’s a lot of philosophy and yoga breath on the bike, even though it’s still very intense, and then you balance it out with the yoga at the end.”


For Torontonians, the philosophy of balance is an important one.


Indeed, there has been so much going on in our city as of late, with the recent North by Northeast music festival, Luminato, Taste of Little Italy, and the upcoming G20 summit, that it’s been difficult to navigate the streets without using one’s elbows.


And so the goal of Spynga’s Elevate to Exhale was to help Torontonians navigate their minds instead, cultivating calm in the face of our eternally bustling city.


And this is, essentially, the goal of yoga itself – to maintain a state of inner tranquility while holding poses that are at times stressful to the body, a skill that with practice, is eventually carried over into other stressful aspects of life, off the mat.


The event included a day full of yoga classes and seminars, sponsored by Lululemon Athletica and Starbucks Coffee, among others. Lululemon offered goal coaching sessions throughout the day, and donated 100 yoga mats for event participants, while Starbucks provided refreshing shaken iced tea beverages, and iced coffees.


Related articles: (yoga, yonge dundas square, g20, exhale to elevate, Spynga)
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