Vancouver Sun: In a city where the profusion of yoga studios rivals that of coffee shops, it is hardly news when another one opens. But the new yoga centre at Hastings and Granville has something the others don’t have.
The name Deepak Chopra.
Chopra, a healing arts super star, is a medical doctor, pioneer in mind-body medicine and author of 64 books including the Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. The wellness centre he co-founded with David Simon MD in Carlsbad, Calif. is a mecca for many seeking emotional or physical healing. It also certifies instructors in Ayurvedic medicine, primordial sound meditation and yoga.
Having the Chopra name on the Vancouver yoga centre instantly elevates it above the others. But managing director Sharam Rafati says the name comes with a promise of integrity to all that Chopra stands for.
“You can’t just have a name on the door and expect people to come,” he says. “That is not what is going to make this a success.
“By bringing Chopra yoga to Vancouver we are increasing the level of consciousness by introducing yoga and meditation to the community. We have Deepak behind us, but solely for the purpose of his philosophy and bringing that spirituality into the game. It wasn’t our way of making this a successful business.”
The Chopra Yoga Centre is an 8,000-square-foot space with two large yoga studios including one for hot yoga, wellness facilities, a raw food counter and luxurious shower and sauna rooms.
Backed by five local business people, the centre promises to incorporate Chopra’s seven spiritual laws of yoga into its programs and create the same vibe as the Chopra Wellness Centre, so that it feels like an extension of it.
It is the first of 16 similar centres that the Vancouver team plans to open in North America in the next seven to 10 years.
Each centre will have a director who is fully certified in the three pillars of the Chopra Wellness model; Primordial sound meditation, yoga and Ayurvedic medicine — so that the tone of the studio reflects the philosophy of Chopra wellness.
The Vancouver centre has 32 yoga or fitness instructors teaching classes in many of the yoga forms as well as blends such as Cho-fit or hip hop yoga. It offers guided meditation each morning. After it irons out the kinks of opening, it plans to offer members the opportunity to receive their own personal mantra, as per Chopra’s primordial sound meditation, in the next few months.
As for Ayurvedic medicine, Vancouver’s director Danielle Mika Nagel has been fully certified and will be able to answer questions about it, but that component is not in the cards for the centre immediately, says Rafati. The centre does have a naturopathic doctor, however.
Nagel says the philosophy of the centre is that it doesn’t matter what form of practice you have as long as you do it with intention and mindfulness. Mindfulness will be part of every program at the centre, including its cross-training, Pilates and dance conditioning classes.
“If you are practising, and if you are practising with intention and mindfulness, that is the goal of yoga,” Nagel says. “It is not just to become stronger in your body or more flexible. It is to find exactly what is good for you and embrace that.”
Rafati has practised meditation since his first year of university 17 years ago. He believes it to be an essential part of his life, helping him to achieve his goals and calm his mind.
But when he started doing yoga three years ago, he found it raised his practice to another level.
“Meditation with yoga is a lot better than meditation by itself,” he says. “and I am sure that if you are just practising yoga, when you do it with meditation, you will find the same thing.” Still, spirituality is a personal thing, says Rafati. They won’t be foisting it on anyone.
“It will be available for those who want it,” he says adding that their goal is to make it more accessible.
The centre also features a raw food café by Organic Lives, massage therapy and a large infrared sauna.