By Erika Kindsfather
On Saturday, yoga enthusiasts gathered at Montreal’s Jacques Cartier Pier in the Old Port for the Lolë White Tour. Lolë, a women’s athletic-wear company started in Montreal, has held the White Tour for the past five years, drawing over 50,000 yoga practitoners dressed in white to join together at the community-minded event. The first White Tour was held at the Olympic Stadium in 2012. Over the years, Lolë has chosen distinctive and visually-stunning sites to hold their events, including the Grand Palais in Paris, Central Park in New York, and a number of art museums in Canada, the United States, and Europe. Though Lolë’s main White Tour events are in Montreal and Toronto exclusively, their On the Road event programming brings more intimate sessions to various communities worldwide.
Upon arriving at Jacques Cartier Pier at 8:15 a.m., I was greeted by friendly volunteers who directed me to the VIP and media tent entrance. I was given a gift bag and escorted by a very sweet volunteer to the VIP tent. Rolled-up yellow yoga mats speckled the ground, organized in rows and semi-circles oriented towards the main stage. The VIP tent was comfortable and welcoming, a feeling that radiated throughout the morning. Two professional masseuses from Strøm Nordic Spa were available for 10-minute massages, and the tent was equipped with two buffet-style stations of light food, fresh fruit, vegetable juices, Pure Leaf iced teas, and Rise Kombucha. Ample and comfortable seating was available in the tent, and supported groups of chatting friends.
After eating breakfast, I enjoyed a massage from a professional who exuded the same positive energy as the volunteers that greeted me. Around 9 a.m., the weather improved and I took a walk around the venue. I entered the large main set-up where numbers of tents were bordering an open gravel area. Each tent contained promotional material and samples from a variety of wellness-minded companies, including Biotherm skincare, Pure Leaf, Bio-K Probiotics, Metro, and others. Lolë had a tented pop-up shop with athletic wear, and Pandora had a tent with glass cases of charms and bracelets. Many people occupied this area, all wearing white and sporting their Lolë gift bags. Most people seemed to have come in groups, chatting as the lines at different booths passed or smiling with one another as they walked towards their new yoga mats.
With the sky cleared and a light breeze taking the edge off of the sun’s warmth, the Old Port had transformed into the perfect environment for outdoor yoga and festivities. Two small stages were set up among the lines of yoga mats, and four artists took to them in pairs and began performing yoga acrobatics. As I wandered through the venue, I noticed that the event attendees consisted of people of all ages, including some babies and toddlers. The event from the start felt welcoming, open, and inclusive, which was reflected in the crowd that gathered.
Musicial group Beyries performed a short set featuring songs off their new album Landing and continued to play soothing synth and vocalize during the yoga session. I unrolled my yellow Lolë mat (gifted to each participant) and enjoyed an hour-long guided class by Nadia Bonefant, Selena Isles, and Dawn Mauricio. The class was taught in English and French, with the instructors alternating languages. Selena Isles’ instruction particularly struck me, as she made the crowd laugh and smile while encouraging engagement among neighbors. During Vrksasana (Tree Pose), everyone was encouraged to extend their arms to touch the shoulder of their neighbors for stability, forming rows of friends and strangers linked together. Yoga professionals occupied the smaller stages to ensure that those farther from the main stage could still visualize and follow the poses of the instructors.
The class was beginner-friendly, and the instructors occasionally gave tips to modify the poses based on individual abilities. The class ended with a prayer in unison and was followed by a short meditation lead by Dawn Mauricio, who spoke affirmations to a quiet crowd. I left feeling energized, and even as the rain began to re-appear, my spirits remained high.
Lolë White Tour presented by Pandora was divided into three sessions: morning, afternoon, and evening. Each featured different activity schedules.
Lolë White Tour takes place annually in Montreal. Keep an eye HERE for next year’s event. Artist Beyries is playing at Club Soda on September 15th as part of Pop Montreal.