I started practicing yoga at my old gym, mostly taking restorative classes on Monday nights. Even though this gym had an industrial ambiance, the fitness studio was actually quite nice. Large windows let the warmth of the sun seep in. I would watch it go down as we moved slowly from pose to pose, sinking into savasana along with the sunset.
I began to fall in love with that feeling, that total calmness that I had never experienced until those moments. My gym didn’t offer very many yoga classes, so I picked up the Passport to Prana card and started checking out studios in my neighbourhood and around town. My journey led me to Studio Blue.
Located at Dundas and Dufferin, Studio Blue isn’t like other yoga studios. You won’t find any incense burning here, though you can find candles on Thursday’s candlelit power melt class. Instead the space is bright and welcoming, warmed to a sweet 26 degrees Celsius. Owner and teacher Jessica McIntyre has made a point of getting to know each person who practices at Studio Blue, and usually it’s her who welcomes you upon your arrival.
The studio celebrates its one-year anniversary on February 10 and McIntyre threw a party this past Saturday to celebrate. Champagne flowed as people showed gratitude towards McIntyre and the space, appreciating all the things that make this studio unique.
“The vision for the studio is sort of I guess two-fold, where it’s a welcoming space where anyone can come and practice and feel like it’s their studio,” McIntyre explained after class one day last week. “The other vision is actually about the classes, that they follow a story arc.”
McIntyre likes to start her classes with a gentle warm-up before building up to a peak pose and melting back down again. They are challenging classes influenced by her passion for athleticism and her background in competitive swimming. The style itself is something she picked up on when she was living in London, England, where she worked full-time for a shoe company and taught yoga on Saturday mornings. The studio she taught at was fun and playful, and it was different than classes she’d taken in Toronto, down in Mexico, in Europe, the U.S. and beyond.
She decided she wanted to open her own studio when she realized she loved her part-time job more than her full-time job. “I was like, this can’t be what life is like. My part-time job–my hobby–can’t be my favourite part of my week. I can’t work this hard and not like what I’m doing.”
So she pitched her idea for a new kind of yoga studio to investors, and once she got them on board she moved fast, moving back to Toronto and opening the studio six months later. After renovating the space, it was time to decorate. In big red letters, “practice playfully” is painted on the hallway wall, a reminder to not be so serious.
“I feel like we take ourselves so seriously in everything that we do, this doesn’t have to be one of them,” she says. “I want to push people physically to do cool new things as we build strength and flexibility, but at the same time it’s not a competition. It’s just for fun and to feel good, so if you leave feeling good socially and physically then I’ve done my job.”
Studio Blue is located at 1457 Dundas Street West just east of Dufferin. Drop in classes are $19 each and community classes are $10 each.