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Today’s Vancouver Woman


Profile: Gloria Latham

Owner Semperviva Health and Yoga Center

What book is on your bedside table?
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts.

How did you come across the book?
In one of my most favourite places to shop, the book store on Galiano Island.

Page-turner or doorstop?

Would you put it on your Desert Island list?

How would you describe the book in one word?

If you had to design a poster for the book, what would it look like?
It would be very similar to its beautiful cover which depicts a temple in golden sunlight.

What’s the main idea/theme of this book?
Shantaram is a spellbinding story of a man who is an activist with a strong social conscience. When life’s tragedies strike, he becomes addicted to heroin and ends up in prison. He escapes from prison and his story continues in India where he finds himself living in a slum in Bombay and operating a free clinic for the slum dwellers. His tale continues with involvement in the Bombay mafia, passport smuggling, gun running and drug trafficking. This book is certainly action packed, and fascinating because it is all true. Throughout the good and the bad events of Gregory David Robert’s life you can somehow still feel his innate goodness.

List three new words you learned in the book.
I’m not sure I learned any new words. The language is fairly straightforward and clear. I did learn some interesting new names though: Chula, Sapna, Prabaker, Jeetendra.

Who would you recommend the book to?
To everyone who loves to get lost in a story, and fall in love. By Erica Gehrke who bravely joined our Circus at SharedVision as Editorial Intern.

This Week’s Featured Vancouverite: Gloria Latham

by Ehren Seeland in Vancouverites

Hometown: Vancouver, BC

How long have you been a Vancouverite?
All my life—I was born in Vancouver, at Saint Paul’s Hospital, and have spent my whole life in Kitsilano. It’s nearly impossible to move out of Kitsilano once you’ve spent time here.

I am the Co-founder of Semperviva Yoga along with my husband Scott Latham and also serve as the director of Semperviva Yoga Teacher Training.

Semperviva is a collection of five yoga studios which are based in Kitsilano and Granville Island. We run yoga classes 7 days a week, in all styles of yoga, and pride ourselves in having Vancouver’s most experienced and knowledgeable teachers, as well as a great community of students.

At Semperviva, we also offer Yoga Teacher Training five times a year, and host Yoga Retreats on the Gulf Islands and Greek Islands.

Favourite place in the city:
I love Kitsilano. I love that it is a real neighbourhood where you can park your car, walk everywhere and see familiar faces at every stop. It is a health conscious community with a multicultural vibe.

Kits also has great cafes (Artigiano is by far my favourite), restaurants, delis, bookstores, and all sorts of interesting shops. In Kits, it’s only a short walk to the beach, and it’s a great gift to be able to see the ocean and the mountains every day.

Best way to spend a Saturday in the city:
Most of my Saturdays are spent in our studios. It’s a great day to do yoga as most people are off and have more time to linger and chat before and after classes.

We also host many master yogis from around the globe, so I often play tour guide on Saturdays after our workshops have wrapped up. Showing visitors around our beautiful city helps to give me an even greater appreciation for where we live.

Favourite Vancouver restaurants:
I visit East is East almost daily because I love their green tea chai. East is East has a very casual atmosphere where you can share your table with others, make new friends, and easily meet up with old friends.

My other favourite is Piato restaurant, which serves up modern Greek fare with a fun and healthy twist on traditional favourites. Piato features live music on Sunday nights, so this is my favourite night to go there.

Top insider tip for visitors:
Vancouver is the best place to be during the long weekends. The city empties out and those who stay behind move at a slower pace. You’ll see tons of people out walking and having conversations. It allows you to really be in the moment and appreciate this beautiful city.

Interview with Timing and Delivery

Semperviva Yoga has recently stretched its way into the epicentre of Kitsilano’s main drag opening its fifth studio at the corner West 4th Avenue and Yew Street.

So, we decided that it was about time that we pulled back the curtain and cut right to the heart of Semperviva Yoga’s reason-for-being.

To do that, we sat down with with Gloria Latham, co-founder of Semperviva Yoga, to talk about a number of things Vancouverites (and yogis), like you and me, should know, including:

1)  how they got to be who they now happen to be (and why);

2)  if there’s something different about how they treat their customers and the service they give them;

3)  what their plans are for tomorrow, next Tuesday, and five years into the future; and

4)  why people looking to do Yoga in Vancouver should be choosing Semperviva


semperviva-yoga-gloria-lathamT&D: State your name, rank and serial number. If you don’t have one, surprise us.

GL:  Gloria Latham, cofounder of Semperviva Yoga (with my husband Scott Latham) and director of Yoga Teacher Training

T&D: How (and why) did Semperviva come to be?

GL:  Semperviva came out of my frustration of working as a pharmacist. I wanted to be in the health field but my job felt very disconnected from true health.

T&D: In simple terms, perhaps to someone who isn’t familiar with Yoga or the ‘West coast vibe’ at all, explain what Semperviva does (and why they do it better than the rest).

GL:  Semperviva is committed to offering the best Yoga experiences possible. We provide our students with the most knowledgeable, inspiring teachers, and our studios and staff are warm and welcoming.

Semperviva Yoga provides Yoga for Every Body, all ages and all abilities. It is important to us that no one feels intimidated in starting a yoga practice and that they are able to continue to learn, grow and be challenged as their practice progresses.

T&D: Explain a typical day for you (and the staff) at Semperviva, if there is such a thing.

GL:  Our first class at Semperviva starts at 7:00am; our last classes end at 9:00pm and our Yoga Teacher Trainings end even later. The days are long but the work is soooooooooooooo fulfilling.

We get to turn people onto yoga every day and this is very rewarding. We get to share in people’s success stories. We are blessed with an amazing community of students.

The day includes everything from daily maintenance and cleaning, to working with our amazing web team, to teaching Yoga Teacher Training. There is never a dull moment. We have a beautiful base of students here in Vancouver and through our programs in Greece, we are able to connect to students internationally.

T&D: We’ve seen a groundswell in the Yoga scene over the past few years, including some serious ‘swanky’ competition on the local scene. Do you have any thoughts on this?

GL:  The demand for yoga is definitely growing because people understand its value as a system of complete mind body fitness. It is the perfect antidote for these stressful times.

Our focus at Semperviva is to provide the best classes possible with Vancouver’s most experienced teachers, in the most welcoming environments. This is our ongoing commitment to our community of students.

T&D: Why should people consider Semperviva as their Yoga provider?

GL:  (T&D: she is now speaking in bullet point form, and we like it)

  • Over 40 experienced, inspiring teachers
  • Over 145 classes per week in all styles of yoga
  • Five locations to choose from; passes are valid at all Semperviva locations
  • Most affordable classes in town
  • Friendly, knowledgeable Yoga Advisors available to guide you to the most appropriate classes for you
  • Ongoing workshops to help you further your practice with the world’s most sought after teachers such as Seane Corn, Shiva Rea, Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, Mark Whitwell, Sarah Powers, Max Strom and more
  • Internationally recognized as a leader in Yoga Education
  • Local and international retreats

T&D: Is yoga a trend? What would your advice be to the non-Yoga masses (who have embraced phrases like ‘downward dog’ and the benefits of stretchy yoga wear) as they wrestle with this?

GL:  That would make yoga the longest lasting trend in history (well over 5,000 years)!
Yoga is not something you do. It is a way of life. It starts out as something you explore in a yoga studio, on your mat but then it seeps out into your life. You will find yourself calmer and less reactive, you will sleep better, eat better and feel better than you ever have before, and you’ll be in great physical shape on top of all of that! I can’t think of one valid excuse to not start a yoga practice and keep it going for the rest of your life.

T&D: How do you focus on your customer and make them feel like they’re important to you?

GL:  Our students mean everything to us. They are our entire reason for being. Being able to teach is a great gift and we will do everything we can to provide the best yoga experiences possible for our students.

We offer lots of free community events at Semperviva such as free classes on Christmas Day Class, Valentine’s Day, and Mother’s Day. It’s a great way to bring people together, build community and make new friends.

T&D: What have some of your criticisms been (either as an owner or as a business)? What’s changed because of it?

GL:  Our classes are always full. In response we keep adding more classes and have opened new locations (T&D: like the one we’re sitting in)
T&D:  Part of the customer experience, we think, is getting something ‘when’ you want it and ‘how’ you want it. How does Semperviva satisfy this equation?

GL:  We offer a full range of styles of yoga, throughout the day. The only day we ever close fully is New Year’s Day.

We provide a tremendous range of teaching styles in our schedule in order to accommodate all students regardless of their abilities.

T&D:  Describe the best and the worst customer experience with Semperviva that you are aware of.

GL:  I honestly can’t think of anything that negative (THANKFULLY). The most positive customer experience for me has been our Christmas morning class, and our Yoga Teacher Trainings. I teach a free class every year on Christmas morning and then my family and I serve breakfast to the class.

Our Yoga Teacher Trainings are such rewarding experiences. I believe that yoga training is the most empowering personal development program there is.
T&D:  The new space on West 4th Avenue (former home of Coast Mountain Sports at the corner of Yew Street) is very well put together. How long had you been contemplating an expansion and how did it come about?

GL:  We have always wanted a location on West 4th. Our presence in Kitsilano felt incomplete without it. My husband contacted the landlords of the building 5 years ago, and the opportunity finally opened up just before Christmas.

T&D:  What’s your five year plan for Semperviva? How does the new space advance this?

GL:  In five years we hope to continue to be the strongest member of the Vancouver Yoga Community, and continue to be internationally recognized as a leader in Yoga Teacher Training.

Our new space provides us with great visibility which helps increase awareness of all our studios, retreats and Yoga Teacher Training.

T&D:  Who has been your role model or inspiration in life and/or business?

GL:  A great inspiration for me has been Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa. She is an amazing teacher, and has touched so many peoples’ lives. She works tirelessly, travelling and teaching all over the globe while still maintaining the largest yoga studio in North America, Golden Bridge Yoga, with her husband Gurushabd Khalsa.

T&D:  In 30 words or less, put the following words into a cohesive sentence: chipmunk, public transit, live music, and salad bar.

GL:  While riding on public transit to a great salad bar I know that plays live music, I spotted a chipmunk in a tree. (T&D: she used 23)

T&D:  Finally, what would you like to know of our readers (to be answered in the comments section)? Ask away!

GL:  What’s keeping you from making a commitment to a yoga practice?

So there you have it, Semperviva Yoga’s story and commitment to customer service in a Yoga context!

Thanks to Gloria and the Semperviva team for taking the time (and effort) to speak with us.


Joy Yoga interviews Gloria Latham

Semperviva’s Gloria Latham talks to Joy Yoga about work, play and a kickstart to a dream.”I always say that yoga is simply practice for life. In yoga we put ourselves in uncomfortable positions and challenge ourselves to remain calm, and balanced by using the breath. This is simply life training. In life, we find ourselves in uncomfortable situations constantly, and automatically through the practice of yoga, the breath techniques we learn in class filter into our lives and provide as with the calm and balance we need to live a full and more peaceful life.’
Read the full article here

Semperviva voted # 1 Yoga Studio in Vancouver by Courier

Semperviva has just been voted the number 1 Yoga Studio in Vancouver for 2010 by the Vancouver Courier. When myself and Scott started Semperviva, our business plan was simple. To create a space that would help people to feel good about themselves and their lives. When I see results like this we realize that what started out as a dream is truly a reality.

Today’s Woman – Making every moment count

Gloria opened Vancouver’s Semperviva to make yoga accessible to as many people as possible. An ardent advocate of doing yoga in nature, Gloria also leads retreats on the Gulf Islands as well as the Greek Island of Kythira.“Gloria is revolutionizing yoga in Vancouver,” enthuse one of her students,“and bringing it to those who would otherwise avoid it. She’ll change the world!”
Read full article here

Yoga’s a perfect fit for Vancouver

Journalist Gail Johnston talks to Gloria Latham about the benefits of Yoga. “Tranquility is just one of the benefits of yoga. So is getting into better shape. According to Latham, yoga-derived physical fitness is different than that of conventional exercise. Herself a runner, Latham explains that going for a jog gives you a great high, but it’s followed soon after by a crash. Not yoga. “The breath work involved in yoga completely regenerates you,” she says. “Obviously, regular yoga practice yields greater flexibility, which only becomes more important with age. Yet all too often people shy away from it because they fear they aren’t pliable enough. Latham stresses that there is a form to suit everyone.”
Read the full article here

Inside Vancouver Feature, Oct 5th 2010

Best way to spend a Saturday in the city:
Most of my Saturdays are spent in our studios. It’s a great day to do yoga as most people are off and have more time to linger and chat before and after classes.

We also host many master yogis from around the globe, so I often play tour guide on Saturdays after our workshops have wrapped up. Showing visitors around our beautiful city helps to give me an even greater appreciation for where we live.

Read the full article