In The Beginning

I was born and raised  some years ago in Toronto. My parents actually were hippies, my dad a vietnam draft-dodger and my mom a hippie.  My parents married and lived in then hippy – now yuppie – Beaches of Toronto.

When I was a child, I remember my parents meditating on the Beach, but they didn’t do yoga. I have never really associated Toronto as a yoga center, but I  am wrong.

When It Began

Back in the 1990s, when yoga was growing rapidly in Vancouver,  yoga in Toronto was still being run out of a few studios literally in the entire city. While the majority of yoga was something that was  being done by a few people out of community centers, churches and their homes.

It is with the start of Lululemon in 1998 that gave Bay Street its first sense that yoga was a profit making enterprise. Lululemon raised $327.6-million through its initial public offering  and was much higher than anticipated and now has hundreds of stores world wide.

Different Growth Styles

While yoga in Vancouver grew specifically in communities like Kitsilano, as one or two studios per brand, in Toronto they grew as franchises.

The 1990s saw the expansion of yoga brands like Yoga Space, Yoga Tree, Power Yoga who began  franchising all over the GTA.

Yoga once something that only applied to the counterculture hipsters, yoga has moved away from the ashrams and into mainstream and main street.

From my experience, it seems that the surge in yoga’s popularity  in Toronto stems from one main fact: those who live on the west coast of Canada have an easy going state of mind which yoga fits well into. While  the state of mind in Toronto is a place of business, and as yoga has been something that has been able to monetize (as yoga franchises and Lululemon  have shown) its finding a solid place in the competitive business market of Toronto.