As the unofficial home of stretchy pants, Vancouver is easily Canada’s leading yoga hub. In any of the city’s trendy studios, you’ll find first-time yogis downward dogging next to experienced practitioners and world-renowned gurus alike. There are nearly as many studios in the city as there are Starbucks (and that’s saying a lot). But with membership prices pushing into the hundreds, many people have been locked out of a key part Vancouver’s culture.
Enter: Mat Collective, Western Canada’s largest outdoor yoga community. In a city full of pricey gyms and boutique yoga studios, this nonprofit's mission is to make yoga accessible to all. With outdoor classes from June through August all the way from Kits Beach to Riley Park, there's no easier way to get outside and stay fit this summer.
Mat Collective began in 2013 with a modest goal: to save unwanted yoga mats from the landfill. Founders Rebecca Holgate, an avid yogi and yoga teacher, and Selina Pechlaner-Kruk, a serial entrepreneur, wanted to repurpose dusty, unused mats by giving them to people and businesses looking to create a healthier lifestyle.
While providing yoga mats to the masses was a solid start, the duo knew they could do more to give back to the community. It wasn’t long before Mat Collective began offering yoga classes in Vancouver’s iconic outdoor spaces, from the heart of the city’s yoga scene in Kitsilano to Granville Island and East Vancouver. The company’s vision, now, is living in a city where everyone has the ability to practice yoga, free from financial restraints.
MC’s mission actually mirrors the journey of many yogis, too; yoga may start as a form of exercise but, for two thirds of people and 85% of teachers, it becomes a tool for personal growth. Grabbing a class with Mat Collective gives you the opportunity to yoga for free and see if it’s right for you.
We’re fortunate to live in a city with such beautiful outdoor spaces and the glorious backdrop of the North Shore mountains. It would be wrong if we didn’t take advantage of this and practice yoga outside. Vancouver residents and visitors agree: up to 200 yogis, from every neighborhood and all over the world, flow in unison in Riley Park or a spacious grassy area at Kits Beach.
Mat Collective offers classes from June 1 to August 31 each year, and there’s a variety of class types, from power and flow to Hatha and Yin, so you can choose which style suits you. This summer’s schedule was just released but more classes will be added soon — keep an eye on their website or Facebook page for updates.
Ready to hit the mat and experience all that yoga has to offer? Get outside, grab your well-loved, MC-branded yoga mat, and namaste your way all summer long.