I just started an unlimited 2 weeks for $40 new student special at Ahimsa Yoga, which now occupies the space previously known as Octopus Garden. This is an excellent studio for expanding your yoga practice, and students who have already established a regular practice will benefit the most.

Ahimsa still retains popular teachers from Octopus Garden like JP Tamblyn and Elke Schroeder. The space has been renovated a bit and there is now a receptionist area. The changerooms are still small but classes are now scheduled with a generous 30 minutes in between, so there is no longer any bottlenecking. Amenities include a shower, two washrooms and mat spray.

The greatest change however, are the classes and the curriculum. Ahimsa doesn’t offer your standard class descriptions, but there are some equivalences. Sukha is very similar to a restorative class with gentle poses held for longer periods of time, making heavy usage of props. I’ve taken 3 classes so far and the teacher I had (Angela) also began each class with a different breathing/meditation exercise which was great. The Sthira and Vinyasa classes are quite vigorous and they will not appeal to those looking for a slower, hatha based practice. They strike me as quite similar so far, except the Sthira has a more set sequence than the Vinyasa.

In terms of difficulty, I would place Sthira and Vinyasa classes at the more advanced end of what would be level 1-2 in most studios offering Vinyasa. Although the Sthira is described as level 1, there is actually quite a major gap between the Sukha and Sthira class and I would highly recommend that students considering the Sthira to have a well established practice.* Most notably, the Sthira teacher did not ask if this was anyone’s first yoga class which is something that I find is common with level 1 classes in other studios.

So far, the classes have been excellent. I have taken classes with Elke (challenging and original sequences), Angela (attentive with a very relaxing voice), Morgan (cheerful and great for an upbeat class). Do note that the studio is not spacious and the more active classes may fill up quickly. I would recommend going to class early – at least 15 min – just in case. Do not arrive late as people may not be able to rearrange their mats to accommodate you!

edit: *There is a one hour Foundations class that is not as fast paced and rigorous than Sthira. It is like a challenging level 1. Students seemed to have an established practice and were familiar with sun salutations A/B etc. Also, to further shed some of the mystery around Ahimsa’s classes, the Virya level is basically the sequences of Sthira, except with less instruction and executed at a faster pace.