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Credit: Rhonda Dent Photography

The Chopra Yoga Centre incorporates the principles of 'The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga', a book by Deepak Chopra and David Simon.

Mind-body medicine guru Deepak Chopra was recently in Vancouver for the official ribbon cutting at the new Chopra Yoga Centre, a beautiful 8,000-square-foot facility offering a wide range of classes and wellness services, and an amazing cafe

The Vancouver centre is the first Chopra Yoga Centre in the world, with more planned across the continent in the coming years.

The philosophies are based on those of the Chopra Centre for Wellbeing at the La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, California, co-founded by Chopra and the late David Simon, a mind-body physician and author, as well as the principles outlined in Chopra and Simon’s book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga, published in 2004.

Although Chopra’s philosophies are steeped in ancient yogic wisdom, he embraces change and evolution. "Like anything else, knowledge becomes stale if it doesn’t evolve," he says.

"Just because something is ancient doesn’t mean it’s the best. Tradition has value and tradition can be a burden. It has value in that tradition has the great experience of the past but it can be a burden because it doesn’t allow you sometimes to evolve to new levels of creativity and expression.”

Chopra Yoga Centre Embraces Old and New, from Ashtanga to Hip Hop Yoga

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Instructor Chris Duggan, far left, teaches hip hop yoga, a 90-minute class that starts with 45 minutes of dance followed by 45 minutes of yoga. (Image: Chopra Yoga Centre)

"The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga are the anchor, and then we have hip hop yoga, hot yoga, all the different schools of yoga that have withstood the test of time, but also evolved,” says Chopra.

With a variety of classes, over 75 a week, the centre hopes to attract students of all backgrounds and experience levels, whether they are looking to counteract the effects of a sedentary job, increase their flexibility, strength and endurance, or spend time in tranquil meditation.

“Any reason for practicing yoga is a good reason,” says Chopra on the yoga centre’s website. “Enhancing flexibility and releasing stress are as noble a purpose for performing yoga as the awakening of spirituality."

During a pre-ribbon cutting press conference, Chopra reiterated that any entry point into yoga is noble. When asked if it’s necessary to believe in the spiritual component of yoga in order to get the full benefits, he said, “You start where you are” – whether that’s the physical, mental, or spiritual. Chopra said he got into meditation because he wanted to stop smoking.

The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga

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Mayor Gregor Robertson, left, and Deepak Chopra cut the ribbon at the new Chopra Yoga Centre in downtown Vancouver. (Image: Catherine Roscoe Barr)

I stopped by the centre to take the signature Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga class with studio director Danielle Mika Nagel.

Each of the seven laws corresponds with a day of the week as follows:

  • Sunday – The Law of Pure Potentiality
  • Monday – The Law of Giving and Receiving
  • Tuesday – The Law of Karma
  • Wednesday – The Law of Least Effort
  • Thursday – The Law of Intention and Desire
  • Friday – The Law of Detachment
  • Saturday – The Law of Dharma (Purpose in Life)

The class I took was on a Wednesday, so the intention was to embrace The Law of Least Effort – the idea that one’s actions can achieve maximal benefit with minimal effort; to be in harmony with your body instead of straining against it.

After class, sitting on cushy pillows on the floor of the centre’s meditation room, Nagel told me that the idea for the centre came from a group of Vancouver-based investors.

“About three years ago the investors sent Deepak an email to see if he’d be interested in partnering with them and opening a Chopra Yoga Centre,” says Nagel. “He wrote back in 10 or 15 minutes and said, ‘very interested, let’s meet.'

Once Chopra gave the thumbs up for the project, the investors approached Nagel to take part and so she headed to the Chopra Centre for Wellbeing to complete a rigorous Vedic Master program, where she became certified in three disciplines: yoga, meditation and Ayurveda.

Chopra Yoga Centre's Roots in Meditation

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Chopra Yoga Centre studio director Danielle Mika Nagel, far right, developed the Yoga Barre class which incorporates elements of yoga, Pilates, dance and strength training. (Image: Chopra Yoga Centre)

What makes the centre unique in Vancouver’s vast sea of yoga studios? “I think one of the big things is that we have our roots in meditation,” says Nagel. “I don’t know of another yoga studio in Vancouver that has a dedicated meditation room. And also we have some signature classes.”

In addition to the Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga class, other signature classes include Breathe Flow Meditate (a slower-paced vinyasa class focused on breath-awareness, ending with a meditation), Yoga Barre (a blend of yoga, Pilates and dance that incorporates cardio intervals and free weights), and Cho Fit (a shoes-on, circuit-style class taught by a personal trainer).

But it all comes back to higher consciousness, no matter the class, says Nagel. “We want to bring mindfulness and meditation to all styles of practices,” she says.

Fuel Your Workout at the Organic Lives Cafe

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The Organic Lives cafe catered Deepak Chopra’s lecture on the philosophy of yoga, and served ridiculously good raw vegan bruschetta and pizza. (Image: Catherine Roscoe Barr)

The centre has three studios (the main studio, a hot yoga studio, and a meditation studio), two treatment rooms, a large co-ed infrared sauna, a retail area (with books, clothing and Ayurveda products), and the Organic Lives cafe. Whether you’re just stopping in for a salad, wrap, vegan sushi, or dessert, or grabbing an elixir or smoothie after a class or treatment, the Organic Lives cafe has knock-your-socks-off-fantastic vegan fare that uses sustainably grown and fairly traded ingredients.

Drop-in rates are $22 for 45- to 60-minute classes and $27 for 75- to 90-minute classes, and allow you to use the sauna before or after class. Mat, towel, and sauna wrap rentals are $2 each.

Monthly rates range from $78 to $198 per month, depending on the length of time you sign up for and whether you get a base or plus membership (plus membership includes the use of a mat and towel service). All monthly memberships give you unlimited use of the sauna. For a limited time, an introductory two-week all access pass is $49.

The centre also offers many wellness services including naturopathic medicine, acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, Reiki, Jin Shin Do Accupressure, and registered massage therapy.