cow town yoga Billboards on your way out from the airport in Calgary, advertise commercial real estate opportunities in Fort McMurray, Canada’s infamous Eldorado, the site of the Tar Sands.

Now, known to be one of the planet’s largest global warming disasters, the Tar Sands are responsible for the Rocky Mountain’s melting glaciers as well as risi
ng cancer rates downstream. Canada, however still re-elected a prime minister responsible for catalyzing this invasive project, Stephen Harper, just last week.

Harper happens to hail from the heart of conservative country, i.e. Calgary and it was with trepidation that we headed east last Thursday to teach at Yoga Mandala in Calgary’s Marda Loop area.

We were thankful to connect with a strong comm
unity of environmentally conscious, liberal-minded yogis in Calgary who charted us on a beyond the obvious tour of Cow Town.

Here are some my favourite picks from our weekend visit.

Communitea in Canmore: a mee
ting place, music hall and tea house / lunch bar in this forty minutes away from the city, Whistler-esque nature town, serving delicious vegetarian options, organic teas in a serene

environment. A perfect, healthy stop before tackling the Grassi Lakes hike. We loved their matcha.

The Coup in Calgary: an aptly named vegetarian restaurant, that hopes to offer an alternative to the many “stuff your face with ribs larger than your face’ steakhouses that abut most street corners in Calgary. The Coup’s menu ran from simple to sophisticated, highlighting locally sourced, organic ingredients. The “el sombrero” is a standout on their brunch menu as is their fresh limeade.

Vastu Chai: “make chai not war” is Vastu Chai’s motto. War will probably be furthest on your mind when you sample the lovely Avni Soma’s, delicious and soothing Vastu Masala Chai. Available in both a black tea or roiboos blend, Soma’s chai contains valerian as one of its unique, medicinal ingredients, along with traditional chai spices such as nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper and ginger… mmm.

She packages Vastu Chai in biodegradable containers using vegetable-based inks, embellished with a pretty paisley pattern, using only organic and fair trade loose leaf teas and spices. For a list of Vastu chai retailers go here.
Yoga Mandala: This lovely studio is located in the Marda Loop, a quickly gentrifying Calgary neighbourhood. We love their cool yet serene vibe, the lovely laid-back owners Melissa and Kevin and their wonderful sangha of teachers and practitioners.

We’re looking forward to heading back to Calgary in 2009. We’re also hoping for another Canadian election soon.