Leela Eco Spa and Studio is a boutique yoga studio and eco spa situated in the fabulous neighbourhood of Bridgeland, Calgary (full disclosure: I live in Bridgeland and I love it!). The studio space is small, warm and inviting, and makes for an intimate and non-intimidating class experience. The spa area includes several massage therapy and spa treatment rooms, as well as private infared sauna and steam rooms. As the name would suggest, the studio and spa areas are eco-friendly in everything they do, which is a huge bonus for the environmentally-conscious yogi.
Here is my breakdown:
- Location: Bridgeland neighbourhood in Calgary, on 1st Ave and 8th St NE (map). The location is ideal for the growing community of Bridgelanders and there is also an abundance of free 2-hr street parking. Leela is also a stone’s throw from a few great neighborhood restaurants and cafes, including LDV Pizza Bar, Blue Star Diner and deVille Luxury Coffee and Pastries, should you be jonesing for a great meal, latte or even adult beverage after class.
- Yoga: non-heated classes are offered in a cozy studio room (I’d estimate 14 to 16 people would comfortably fit).
- Style: Leela offers a variety of yoga classes, mainly rooted in Ashtanga and Vinyasa Flow styles. Specialty classes include therapeutic, restorative, prenatal, yoga for the low backs and hips and even a sing and read classes for parents and toddlers (cool!).
- Instructor: So far I’ve taken classes with Mina and Jessica; my experiences were so great that I couldn’t choose one so I will tell you about both of them.
- Schedule: Leela’s schedule has recently been reduced for the summer but there are still lots of great class times available (including one of my favourites, 8:30pm – do a therapeutic or restorative class then go straight to bed). Most classes are 1 hr 15 minutes.
- Price: $15 drop in fee, or $11 for students or seniors – very competitive, especially in Calgary where drop-ins typically cost $17 to $20. As with most studios Leela offers package pricing, and with amazing value (e.g. $110 for a 10-pass or $200 for an unlimited 3-month pass). Your dollar definitely goes a long way here.
I knew I’d found a gem of a studio as soon as I entered Leela. One of my main teachers and mentors Jeff Mah introduced me to the new studio manager and therapeutics instructor Jo Ferguson, who has been operating the studio since new ownership took over earlier in 2013. When I went to check out a class, Jo greeted me at the front desk and took me for a tour of the spa area, which was much larger that the storefront would ever lead on. The massage and treatment rooms were meticulously kept and tranquil, and the infared sauna and steam rooms looked so inviting that a part of me wanted to hop right in and skip class altogether. I am happy that urge only lasted for a moment, because class was fantastic. Mina created an inviting atmosphere and was inclusive of everyone in class, especially the first-time yogi, which to me is a sign of a great teacher. Each at our own level, we participated in a fantastic Vinyasa flow class, with a great spin on traditional Ashtanga sequencing, insightful verbal cues and appropriate adjustments. I loved Mina’s demeanor and felt very well-balanced at the end of class. My only wish was that it lasted longer.
About a week later I returned for a class with Jessica and had an equally awesome experience. Jessica’s alignment cues were razor sharp and hyper focused on specific body parts and actions in each asana. It reminded me a lot of Jeff’s style of teaching, and I felt right at home. While re-discovering traditional poses, and trying some not-so-traditional poses, I began to wonder what we were building towards. Surprise: handstands! I love inversions, however, I realize that not everyone does. Jessica made us all feel comfortable by setting us up with partners and walking us through a couple of demos. We safely worked together to refine the pose or try it for the first time, all under her watchful eye. Sidebar: before we had moved towards the pose as a class, we had been practicing little hops in a shortened downward dog and Jessica firmly held my hips and said “ok handstand, Laura” and up I went in the middle of the room. She was able to read my practice and instill a sense of confidence and play in me all in a matter of 30 minutes. To me, also a sign of an amazing instructor.
I highly recommend this studio and look forward to meeting more of the wonderful people at Leela. With it’s welcoming atmosphere, smaller class sizes and great neighbourhood location, Leela is quickly becoming a community hub for Bridgeland yogis. Read more about Leela’s environmental, social and community efforts here.
Oh, and did I mention the lavender-scented warm towel that your instructor will thoughtfully place over your eyes during final savasana? Yeah…
See you on your mat soon,
Have you been to this studio? Have any questions or comments? Leave us your feedback below.
About 8 years ago I came to yoga looking for a way to improve my strength and flexibility for a snowboarding season in New Zealand.Little did I know that the practice would become an instrumental part of my life.Yoga is now the foundation for all things that I value – my personal relationships, singing and songwriting, my day job at an airline, and all the physical activities I enjoy outdoors.
Having completed my teacher training in the Iyengar style of yoga I love classes that focus on critical alignment, particularly those that explore movement in fun and creative ways.My favourite classes are lead by down-to-earth instructors who safely challenge us to try something new and have a laugh while doing it.