◊ THE CLASSES: Core L1-2 & #Flowinthe6ix ◊
WHAT YOU NEED
- Water bottle
Yoga Tree will always have a special place in my heart bc it was the first review I did expecting my baby boy. Being a first time parent navigating the fitness scene is hard, so we’ll keep references to the Core Yoga L1-2 class peppered in with updated info on the #Flowinthe6ix class we took recently. Initially, we chose this Toronto staple as our first prego review because we knew we were in good hands with an experienced staff, and were we ever. This super zen yoga powerhouse has been around for 10+ years and has five busy and vibrant locations in Toronto and GTA. We’ve visited the newest Bay & Dundas and Richmond & Spadina studios, and we were pleasantly surprised around every corner with the bright and cheeky decor and amenities akin to a boutique fitness studio without the inflated price tag. This studio has received glowing praise over the years from pubs like BlogTo and Toronto Life and we’ve officially joined the fan following. With the enormous schedule, membership flexibility, and some of the most well known yoga instructors in the city, this studio is a must try.
Yoga Tree has studios in Richmond Hill, Vaughan, Richmond & Spadina, Yonge & Eglinton, and Bay & Dundas. Considering how well spread out the studios are, there’s no doubt you can find one convenient for you. The Bay & Dundas studio is centrally located within steps of the Eaton Centre, Ryerson University and the Financial District and plenty of transit options with St. Patrick station down the street and Dundas streetcars running constantly. Richmond & Spadina is equally accessible, with tons of public transportation options and surrounded by endless King/Queen West cafes and shops.
CLASS SCHEDULE + PRICE
The schedule is PACKED. With both locations having multiple studios they can accommodate over 205 classes per week in everything from hot, to yin, iyengar, ashtanga, vinyasa flow and more. Classes are almost every half hour and range from 50-90 minutes long, and they have more weekend classes than any other studio we’ve seen running until 7:15pm. YAS – thank you! The website is easy to navigate allowing you to search by location, style, and intention (I want to relax, I want to sweat etc.) and they provide an intensity and relaxation level for each class. With their huge team of teachers, that’s all the more important so you know what you’re walking into even if you’re unfamiliar with the teacher. They reserve 50% of the classes for walk-in’s which we LOVE bc it accommodates busy and unpredictable schedules and usually makes for less crowded classes. Yoga Tree also offers a 250 hour yoga teacher training, corporate yoga, mommy yoga, and workshops like handstand workshops and beginner workshops.
Prices are reasonable at $22.12 for drop-in (compared to $20 at Pure Yoga and $23 at Afterglow). They have plenty of other pricing options all of which grant you access to all locations and the more you buy, the better the deal, like the 50 Class Pack which we see rarely and can be shared – SMART. it makes sense to convert to a membership if you’re going more than 3x per week and memberships include the ability to cancel at anytime, vacation extension, and discounts to local businesses. If you’re searching for an even sweeter deal and you’re a last minute Lacy, visit the website and a pop-up box will appear with daily offers. You can also store your mat for $15/month so you don’t have to lug your mat from work or wherever. Basically, they’ve made it as convenient as pos to squeeze in a class on the fly, which we love because #life.
- Drop-in: $22.12
- 10 Class Pack: $180 ($18 per)
- 20 Class Pack: $320 ($16 per)
- 50 Class Pack: $720 ($14.40 per)
- Monthly Membership – $120 per month
Both studios have a similar vibe. They’re clean, modern, and beautifully put together with their quintessential metallic quotes and pops of lime green, but they also feel very warm and homey, like a true neighbourhood studio. The Bay & Dundas studio is ginormous with over 10,000 square feet sprawled between two floors. There are three spacious yoga rooms, a tea lounge, infrared sauna, and wellness centre for massage and holistic treatments. Both male and female change rooms have multiple washrooms and showers, plenty of programable lockers and changing space.
The Richmond & Spadina studio is smaller but also adorable with two bright and airy studios accented with a wall of windows, cork floors (which is yeah for hot yoga), and cute metallic quotes like “mind on my mantra, mantra on my mind“. Being located on the second floor on the corner, the layout is a tad awkward and squishy in the womens change room, but it’s workable and has everything you need like lockers, showers, and complimentary product and tea. Both studios are a shoe-free environment, scent-free (scents are amplified in the heat) and they ask students to practise asetya, which we used at lulu as well. Rough translation: don’t steal our shit. Namaste.
Core L1-2 was super diverse in experience and age and evenly spilt male/female. Half the class was warming up before class with handstands and vinyasa, and the other half were whispering with friends or lying in stillness. For #Flowinthe6ix at Spadina, the crowd was younger on the whole (makes sense for the location), still just as many men as women which is always nice to see, and it was a more advanced group. Read on for why, bc that was necessary. Overall, there’s no doubt the class goers to YT aren’t fussed about what everyone else is doing; people are there for themselves and to connect with their mat.
- $2 mat and towel rental. On that – if you’ve ever wondered about the difference between open vs. closed cell mats, see this awesome review for more info
- Programable lockers
- Complimentary products, hairdryers, q-tips, make-up pads, etc.
- Infrared sauna and wellness centre (Bay & Dundas)
- Retail boutique with Onzie, Swell, Manduka blocks and mats, sage sticks and more.
INSTRUCTOR + STAFF
YT was founded in 2007 by Debbie Fung and Jason Lu, an unstoppable duo that left their corporate jobs at 23 to open their first studio in Thornhill. They built it from the ground up, doing most of the construction themselves and in no time had expanded beyond their humble beginnings to take over pockets of Toronto. Their team now is massive with over 85 instructors, which can be a challenging to have a consistent experience or know what you’re going to get, however the quality of instruction we receive here is always top notch. Plus some of our fav teachers are here, like Queenie and Jonathan Phair, and Margaret Coffey and they often rotate across locations.
Jovian – Core L1-2
YT suggested Jovian’s Core L-2 right out of the gate as his class has a loyal fan following and we get why. He started yoga in 2010 and graduated from Yoga Tree’s own teacher training program. Jovian’s style is fun, fluid and dynamic and he excels in offering modifications for every pose so that beginners and advanced yogi’s alike can find a challenge. He kept our focus on breath and he was keenly aware of what I was doing to make sure I was comfortable with the preggo modification (no belly lying or back lying after week 20 btw). He hung around after class to offer additional guidance on advanced poses making it obvious how passionate he is about his community.
Amanda – #Flowinthe6ix
She has a voice like Jillian Harris. No joke, when I closed my eyes, I thought Jilly popped into Toronto for this iconic Friday favorite so I liked Amanda immediately. As a pro dancer, dance teacher, visual artist, and dedicated yogi, Amanda brings a constant and creative approach to yoga. Her teaching style is fun, free, and FAST. She led one of the most challenging classes I’ve EVER taken because of the pace, the transitions and the fresh takes on traditional poses. Best part though was working through difficult poses, Amanda would interrupt with “yo, don’t be afraid to add movement and breath to this balance. It’s hard but it’s supposed to be FUUUN”. That’s Amanda’s vibe. She has a Bach of Arts degree from Ryerson and also completed the YTT from Yoga Tree.
LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY
WAY HARD | HARD | MIDDLE OF THE ROADSIES | CHILL | HELLA CHILL
We’re rating this Middle of the Roadies bc it had pockets that challenged us, but we weren’t feeling the burn for the entire hour. That said, it’s exactly what I wanted as I navigated the class with my new bump. Set in non-heated room to soft music, it focuses on developing proper posture, strength, stability, flexibility and control. After warming up we did multiple rounds of sun salutations that built on the same sequence over and over, and Jovian gave the option to try poses like side crow, flying pigeon and eka pada koundinyasana (flying leg arm pose). Overall the class, obviously, focused on the core and I was’t sure if that was appropriate for me being pregnant. Granted you have permission from your physician, core strength during pregnancy is actually super important. Core strength (i.e. not just your six pack) also refers to your deep core which is comprised of your pelvic floor and transverse abdominals, both of which are important to stay strong during this time of change. So in summary, we’ve been told this class is ok to attend preggo, as long as you stay connected with what feels ok for your body.
This class is in “reduced heat” which means less hot than a full hot yoga class but still warm. It’s set to an energetic, urban and curated playlist of local artists (love) and it is WAY HARD. No question. Advanced poses like three legged dog to push-ups and crow were part of the vinyasa series but it was the constant movement and short holds of poses that made for such a vigorous class. Amanda demonstrated certain poses, but a large portion of the class she was giving verbal queues. Some would get lost if they assumed the next position without listening because the sequence was not typical, so it goes to show that she challenged us physically, but challenged our awareness and ability to listen just as much. That ended up creating a strong sense of being present because you had to concentrate so intensely on what you were doing, it forced your mind to be nowhere else but in that room. We left feeling like we’d taken a true break from the day to focus on ourselves and we got a full-body, proper sweat sesh in the meantime. Check.
To try these classes or anything else, see Yoga Tree’s schedule here.