The outdoor terrace had just the right ambience for a yoga session, with its arched canopies and being enclosed on all sides with walls covered in vines and their leaves. They had a space set aside for doing yoga apart from the dining tables for patrons. There were not too many people here to eat outside as the sky was grey. Fiona, director of marketing for Yoga Vieux, had a little secret to share with me however. She had prayed to the rain gods and they had decided to keep the rain at bay — for the yoga session, at least. And, even if it had rained, they have a huge conference room indoors to take the yoga mats to.
As we all sat down on our yoga mats, Fiona introduced us to Tanya Dawe, one of the yoga instructors at Yoga Vieux Montreal. With a big smile, Tanya guided us through the asanas (yoga poses) with twists and bends. As a guy who spends a lot of time hunched over his desk writing, I really needed the stretch. Being a little out of shape, I wondered if I could keep up. As if Tanya read my mind, she reminded us that yoga is a discipline that embraces all body types and allows people to go at their own pace. There were many times during the routine where she let me go into a reclining baby pose (a pose that allows you to rest), while guiding the more able-bodied in more warrior-like poses. With a soothing voice and graceful hands, Tanya also encouraged and helped those of us who need it to make adjustments to our poses.
There was music in the background and it was just right for a yoga workout. It included different genres including those inspired by traditional Indian music. All were soft and either inspired you to strike a pose or to gracefully move into another one. Tanya closed the session with the traditional Indian salute of Namaste and her own mantra, “The light inside of me sees the light inside of you.”
After we rolled up our mats, lunch was laid out on the table. My mouth was watering – everything looked so exquisite. There was a leafy green salad with just the right amount of dressing, a buttery soup and garlic toast topped with grilled vegetables (including eggplant, tomatoes and artichokes) and goat cheese. Tantalizing for the vegan. There was also a chilled cider from Domaine De Lavoie, a local vineyard in our very own Quebec. It was so potent that I felt like I had knocked back two tall beer cans. It definitely got everyone sociable.
Tanya, not one to be shy before the cider, started to share stories of some of her yoga adventures. Whether it be a yoga retreat in Costa Rica, a course in Bali or yoga with killer caterpillars in Hawaii, she definitely has the breadth of experience you would expect a yoga instructor to have. Fiona, also down-to-earth, was eager to share her inspiration for helping to create the yoga lunch which she has dubbed Fall into Yoga. She shared that the Old Port has a lot of people hiding in their condos, not expecting anything but tourist activities. She wanted to get these people out of hiding to take part in the best that the Old Port has to offer. Exercise. A Fine Meal. A Good Drink.
Part of being a reporter is being a critic. But, try as I might, I had a hard time finding fault with the yoga lunch. It’s when all the right ingredients and the right people come together at the right time. That’s when you know that the people behind it all have an eye for taste and love doing what they’re doing.
Ladies, if you are just getting into yoga, I don’t think you’ll be able to find a studio with a more down-to-earth bunch. If you want to incorporate yoga into your busy lifestyle, then you can’t beat yoga followed by a vegan lunch/dinner. And if you are looking for that perfect second or third date, then try doing yoga and then sharing a cider with your boyfriend-to-be. Tanya and some of the other girls in attendance let me know that yoga is an activity they often share with their boyfriends.
Fellas, if you are looking to build functional strength, it would be a good idea to supplement your weight-training routine with yoga. I know a lot of guys like to pooh-pooh the fru-fru, but the secret to a strong body is in having tough and flexible joints, ligaments and tendons. Yoga helps in this area and Tanya is flexible (no pun intended) enough that she can adapt yoga for those who are looking to build muscle. One thing is for sure, your joints will be strong enough to allow you to be able to lift more after a few of these sessions. And if you really want to impress a date or your girlfriend, then this is the perfect rendezvous. Women love yoga and doing yoga with them means that you are flexible (again, no pun intended) enough to share in an activity that they enjoy doing.
You can enjoy Fall into Yoga lunches on Thursdays, from October 1st to October 22nd. Lunch is from 12:15 to 1:15 pm with 30 minutes of Vinyasa Flow + vegetarian meal + sparkling apple juice. $25. Happy Hour is from 5:30 to 7:00 pm with 45 minutes of Vinyasa Flow + vegetarian hors-d’oeuvres + Hugues hopped cider. $30. Classes are also offered en Francais. Call Yoga Vieux Montreal at 514 992 9642 for reservations.