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Have you been to this shapeshifting yoga studio in New West?

Pineforest Studios, a photography studio on New Westminster’s Sixth Street transforms into a free yoga studio on Monday evenings at the stroke of 7 p.m. Here’s all you need to know before you go. 

Saying goodbye to a weekend and plunging into a brand new week can be hard. But there is a way to keep those pesky stress hormones at bay, as yoga instructor Cristina Alexandre learned through experience.

Alexandre, founder of Now and Zen yoga, is a full-time operations manager for an analytical lab — “a very stressful job,” she said. But yoga helps keep her “centered.”

“It (yoga) heals me, makes me realize that — you know what — everything is going to be OK.” 

Which is why Alexandre is now on a mission to show everyone that there is a way to be more balanced in life. Though she was into yoga even as a youngster, what really pushed her into taking it up seriously was a certain challenging phase in her life.

“Near the end of my marriage, I really got into it; it really helped me with what I was going through. Yoga, meditation and Reiki (a Japanese form of energy healing) help you ground yourself... put life into perspective.” 

She added, “Sometimes, when your life is falling apart like that, you're not present. You're either behind or forward — you're looking back and regretting things, or you're looking forward with fear. Just learning to be present and grounded, and taking it one day at a time ... yoga really helps with that.”

After her marriage ended, Alexandre took a moment to assess what was one thing that she always wanted to do but never could. The answer was pretty clear: teach yoga.

There were some apprehensions starting out — Alexandre, who is turning 50 this year, had thought, “you don't have old people teaching yoga.” But soon, she decided, “I don't care about my age. I'm just gonna do it.” And so she did.

Alexandre took power, Hatha and Vinyasa yoga classes, besides a series of hot yoga sessions at Vancouver-based YYoga Studio, and became a certified instructor.

She has been teaching at the YMCA in Vancouver on Sundays since 2019, and more recently, in New West — which is also where she is based out of — since April 2022.

Alexandre's dream is to start a yoga studio of her own someday. But for now, she is "testing the waters" in New West. She is renting out the space at the Sixth Street photography studio Pineforest Studios (whom she found through the New Westminster Community group on Facebook) every Monday evening for an hour to take her classes.

“I know that the people that come to my Sunday classes in Vancouver really enjoy it, they find it very healing.” She hopes that New West residents give it a shot too.

Alexandre pays a rent of about $200 a month for the studio space — but charges nothing from her students (the space can accommodate about 15 students at a time). There is a donation box, though.

“If you could put something in there, great. If not, don't worry about it. Just come and enjoy the class,” said Alexandre.

Pineforest Studios is located at 239 Sixth St. Alexandre's Vinyasa Yoga classes happen every Monday between 7 and 8 p.m. It's open to all levels and free of charge. The participants are requested to bring their own yoga mat and blocks. Reach out to Alexandre on Facebook for more details.


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