◊ THE CLASS: City Yoga X Front Gallery (Yoga) ◊
WHAT YOU NEED
We’re laying out this review a little bit diffidently than we normally do. We’ve had a legit obsession with City Yoga X in Edmonton for a while now and we’ve been trying to figure out the best way to write a review and give you all the deets of the company without it being irrelevant. What we mean is, City Yoga X is a roaming (mostly) yoga class in Edmonton, which operates by-donation, will always be found in a new location, with different instructors, a different vibe and a unique class. Although every experience will be quite different, every class and City Yoga X’s ethos, is centered around asking “is there a different way to bring yoga to my community?” SO! To get all the information we could, we sat down with the creator of City Yoga X, Ula Kaniuch, and asked her a bunch of questions to learn more about her vision. Her responses are interspersed throughout this inte-review, so it’s not our typical style, but guys – you NEEDED to know. You’ll see why they’ve earned full fruits.
|Question: “Why was City Yoga X created?”
As a new teacher in Edmonton I was lucky to find a home early on, and as soon as I stepped into the new studio I closely tied the success of the studio to my success as a teacher. So when the studio shut down suddenly, my heart broke. I got a flood of messages from students asking how they could access yoga near them, and following up to inquire where else I was teaching.
The day it happened, I was in Vancouver for a sweatcation, and after reading the final message from the studio owner, I asked myself the question: Is there a different way to bring yoga to my community? There have been several studios that shut down in Edmonton, and it seemed that opening another one was not the simple solution.
Over the next several months I started asking students, researching unique concepts and looking for inspiration. One day while out walking in the Legislature Grounds I stumbled across a perfect spot for outdoor yoga. Craving to teach more, I posted to social to ask if anyone would come if I taught a free class, and the response was positive. Taking a leap of faith I asked a handful of local teachers to try a month long project of providing free yoga in the downtown core. We built out a schedule and went rogue. Week to week I started posting when students could attend and we discovered that Edmonton was looking for what we were offering. I had to tell the teachers we could potentially get kicked off the grounds, and we were committed to going as long as we could, it was all an experiment.
As the month flew by and August was coming to a close, I realised I couldn’t leave the project, and my students, once again. City Yoga X needed a solution for the shift to moving indoors but we also knew we could not take on a lease, and didn’t really want to commit to one. We began to reach out to local businesses, students started to give suggestions and referrals, and soon we were able to start popping up in fun spots around the city. We discovered local businesses were happy to help and it allowed for a unique solution.
City Yoga X has no fixed location, but you’re not practicing in your living room. Never being tied down to a location has given City Yoga X the ability to try new ideas, partner with unique individuals, and create experiences like no other fixed studio can. They take recommendations from students on where classes could be held, so it naturally passes the filter of “would students go?” This means you may attend a class in the basement of a historical building downtown, in an art gallery in Oliver, or in the middle of the Legislature Grounds in the summer. No matter what though, they look for spaces that are locally owned and in line with their values and culture. Once that’s nailed, they’ll get creative and move things aside to unroll a mat and create space for a unique fitness class you couldn’t have imagined.
The class we attended with City Yoga X was held at the Front Gallery on 124th street, and the gallery provided a perfect location for us to get into our practice. The space was open and airy, with polished concrete floors and art by local artists. A welcoming, creative instructor and a great representation of Edmonton’s yoga community had us feeling all the good feels from the start.
|Question: “What are some of your favourite locations that City Yoga X has held classes?”
Some spaces that we got great feedback about have included the basement of El Cortez where we hosted an all hip-hop rocket class. The neon lights, and underground vibe leant well to getting us into the mood for playing around with handstands and getting out of our comfort zones.
Panthers Gym has also been a gem to teach out of. We packed out a class for a long weekend Monday and got to introduce our yogis to one of our non-yoga spaces – fun fact: we like to box throughout the week with the crew there. We recently held a boxing workout with Panthers to support their fighters and we packed the gym full. Who knew yogis would have so much fun punching things!
Urban Timber downtown has graciously hosted us several times, letting us play Drake as loud as possible while surrounded by the warm wood and brick of the business. We can’t stop drooling over the environment they’ve curated.
You can find us now on a regular basis at The Front Gallery on 124th street. The owner believes in our vision and we could not be any more grateful to have found a partner in the community that opens her doors and rolls out her mat with us. Being surrounded by art and in a beautiful setting lends to the experience of the practice.
CLASS SCHEDULE + PRICE
City Yoga X offers one class a week on average, occasionally two, and they’re usually a yoga flow, sprinkled with a bit of yin. While this isn’t as diverse an offering as we may be used to, we’re still giving a full pineapple because the idea behind City Yoga X is that they’re offering classes that are different than your local yoga or fitness studio. While the classes aren’t too frequent, they definitely don’t leave you wishing for more diversity in your practice. One of our favorite things about City Yoga X is that you never know what you’re going to get or where you’re going to get it.
The pricing with City Yoga X is another reason we’re giving them a full pineapple. The classes are by donation only and occasionally the proceeds go towards a particular great cause, like a recent City Yoga X Panther Gym class where the set $20 donation went towards the gym’s athletes for their next boxing tour. The best place to look for the next class is via their website or Instagram, and you can register for classes on Eventbrite. Classes are typically posted over a week in advance and sometimes more, which provides ample time for YEG’s mobile yogis to plan out their sweat schedule.
|Question: “Why do you use a by-donation model for your classes?”
I made the choice to try by-donation classes, having faith that in the end, it would all balance out. I trust that students give what they can, when they can. I also know that the teachers want to teach, and if they believe in the concept of by-donation they would hop on board. It has worked great and has allowed us to keep things casual at the door. We put out a jar and don’t hover over it, letting students drop in what they can.
A by-donation model has also allowed us to build trust and relationships with our students. Rather than worrying about payment we spend time chatting and connecting. As teachers, we’re committed to offering yoga no matter what. We believe in what it can do for our community, and the students know it. We teach you even if you can’t donate.
As they roam around Edmonton, City Yoga X has focused on staying consistent with their messaging and experience via social media and online. They may not have a front desk to greet you, but they connect through messages over the week and in-person once they pop up at a location. You’ll see a huge variety of people at their classes, and a vast range of skill levels.
The class we attended at the Front Gallery was nothing short of a blast. The instructor and the owner of the gallery were greeting people as they came into the space, and inviting them to check out the art, lay out their mats, and chat amongst each other. The instructor made sure to learn everyone’s name, and before we officially started our practice, we took turns introducing ourselves to the group. This may not be everyone’s jam, but we came to this class expecting an experience that would challenge us and immerse us into our community, and holy we got it.
|Question: “What would you describe the “vibe” of City Yoga X as?”
Our vibe is an expression of who we are in real life. We love yoga, but we also love to run, box, work out, go for coffee, listen to hip-hop, and are students ourselves. We don’t worry about nailing the perfect posture but are happy to show that there is a beauty with the moments in between.
With my background in art and design and the support of Des Iles Photography, it’s been a dream come true to show yoga as we see it. A practice, with imperfect moments, an art form, and an addition to a fuller life.
As we mentioned, the instructors for City Yoga X are as varied as the locations. For the class we attended, our instructor Kristine Owen Wood, had her own unique vibe that she brought to the class. As a former dancer, we experienced a class that was rhythmic and challenging, while also being totally funky and weird. To put it bluntly: Kristine led us though a class that was, hands down, the funkiest flow we’ve ever experienced largely because she was creative in both her poses and her explanation of the poses. She would demonstrate the more complicated poses for the class first, and then walk us through step-by-step while she walked around the room to provide individual corrections.
|Question: “Tell us about some of your regular instructors, and why they’re a part of City Yoga X”
I met Danielle through my Yoga Teacher Training and lululemon and I knew she was perfect for what we wanted to create with City Yoga X. She’s always looking to enrich and empower others through the practice of yoga as they connect with the self. Creating a space where students can explore through modifications and variations for all student levels. She also knows how to curate the perfect funky playlist and you can expect to experience elements of evolved ashtanga and vinyasa balanced with breath work and meditation.
The Yin to our yang. Mallorie has guided restorative and mindful classes for us that highlights her exploration of self while practicing on the mat. Creator of Gather Sacred, she’s committed to a life that brings together her community, creates sacred moments, and supports and inspires those in her life. A gentle soul, her energy is contagious and we can always count on her to guide a well-crafted sequence. A teacher trainer herself, we are lucky to have her onboard and supporting our vision.
LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY
WAY HARD | HARD | MIDDLE OF THE ROADSIES | CHILL | HELLA CHILL
We’re rating the Front Gallery class as Middle of the Roadsies, but we’re still giving it the full pineapple because the options were there for us if we wanted to make it Way Hard. Kristine took us through an exploratory flow inspired by the rhythm of sun salutations, and while the practice could be adjusted for your experience or desired pace, it kept us moving for the full duration of the class. The class started by immediately throwing us out of our comfort zones and having us introduce ourselves to the room at large. From there, we moved into a series of poses that flowed seamlessly into each other, continually giving us the opportunity to challenge ourselves, or hold back if we weren’t comfortable. Kristine was ready and willing to let you know how to adjust each pose to be more advanced (i.e. handstand prep) or there were a few people in the room opting to make the class pretty chill, and Kristine also helped them through the flow so they stayed with the group.
|Question: “What level of difficulty are City Yoga X’s classes?”
My request for my teachers is that all levels have fun. We often teach the “bus stop method” way. So you get off at the point that fits your practice. Most of our classes are flow, sprinkled with a yin once in a while. As a new student (very common in our classes), we will offer variations and modifications, and for the experienced yogis, we offer the chance to move forward. We won’t hold you back, this is your practice also and we don’t restrict.
We know that not all the work happens on a yoga mat, so when possible we partner and work with others to create experiences. From creating conversations to setting up social mixers, workouts, and wellness challenges, we like to keep things real.
Web: www.cityyogax.com E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Instagram