Yoga & The Importance of Touch: Self Massage and Massage Therapy

katerina garceaThis post is from Katerina, one of our Registered Massage Therapists. Katerina attends regular classes at the studio and in this blog post considers the relationship between yoga practice and therapeutic touch.

Queen Street Yoga is a place of many things for me. It is a workplace, a third place (a place between work and home) and a spiritual place. It is a place where my understanding of anatomy and kinetics of the human body is deepened. It is a sanctuary where my learning from all these faculties meets and marinates and becomes the type of knowledge that can only be called embodied wisdom.

The Importance of Touch

Lately I have been contemplating the question, “How can massage and yoga work together to help us heal?”. This has lead me to think about the role of touch in the health and healing. As a massage therapist my job is to create an environment where my clients feel safe and relaxed with my touch; an individual on my massage table should always feel like they are the one in control. In massage, touch plays the role of a tool in a tool-belt designed to help us journey towards a healthful relationship with our body. Massage can be used as a tool to decrease a muscle spasm, scar tissue and pain,Anthony Easton- Seraphic Massage and during the last year I have also seen massage used to help Alzheimer’s patients return to a sense of self and aid anxiety sufferers in feeling control over their symptoms. Massage with a trusted therapist can be an experience of healthy and safe touch. As adults we may experience less touch in our lives than we did as children, and therapeutic touch can be an important part of experiencing our bodies.Continue reading “Yoga & The Importance of Touch: Self Massage and Massage Therapy”

Water Kefir – post by Leena

image (2)Gut health has been in the news a lot lately. It seems like every week I come across a new piece of research about the inner environment of our guts and implications of the levels of good bacteria and probiotics in the gut for our overall health. And I’m not just talking about physical health, new studies are showing that probiotics may even improve mental and emotional well being and decrease anxiety. This interview I heard on Science Friday from NPR News discusses how probiotic-laced broth reduced anxiety and stress in mice.

In humans, this interesting study found that four weeks of regular intake of probiotic yogurt by healthy women affected activity in the brain regions that control central processing of emotion.Continue reading “Water Kefir – post by Leena”

Learning to Breathe Again; A Singer’s Reflection

This post is from Marg, who teaches our early morning Sunrise Practice. In this post she shares about her experience of learning to breathe as both a singer and a yogi, and shares a breathing technique to practice in child’s pose.

Many years ago, at the age of 22, I took up yoga. I had recently won a national singing competition. One of the first things my yoga teacher said to me was “I know you’re a singer, so I hate to tell you that you don’t breathe very well.”  I was dismayed. I thought I understood a lot about my breath. What more could yoga teach me?

Over 25 years of studying, practicing, singing professionally, teaching and coaching voice, I came to the realization that I did learn at least as much about breath from my yoga practice as from all the wonderful voice teachers with whom I had worked.Continue reading “Learning to Breathe Again; A Singer’s Reflection”

Dreamy-Creamy Coconut Chickpea Curry

This recipe was created by Leena, and she thought it was so easy and delicious that it might be worth sharing with the QSY community! This dish is very allergy friendly, which makes it great for potlucks… It’s vegetarian, dairy free, gluten free, nut free, but still super delicious!  

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Continue reading “Dreamy-Creamy Coconut Chickpea Curry”

Eating with Your Hands – A Practice to Explore

pallavi_damera- food cooked by meWe are intending to explore mindful eating at our upcoming Weekend Yoga Intensive, Rooted in Practice. Rooted in Practice is intended to be a mixed-level, urban yoga retreat and a chance to dive deeper into the practice and conversation of yoga. Read more about Emma’s experience with mindful eating in this week’s post.

 

I generally try to avoid starting stories with the sentence “When I was in India…” because I’m a yoga teacher that tries to show that not all yoga teachers fit the stereotype of yoga teachers. What’s the stereotype? You know: did their teacher training in India, is a vegetarian, wears mala beads all the time, drinks smoothies, basically everything in this hilarious video. I try to drink coffee and eat meat in public, and wear something other than yoga pants, and talk about things other than yoga. But, I have been to India (though not for my yoga teacher training), so sometimes I do need to start stories with the sentence “When I was in India…”. So here we go.Continue reading “Eating with Your Hands – A Practice to Explore”

Glen’s WOW Moment with Yoga in Mexico

You might remember Glen from the blog post “A Heart-Warming Letter about Yoga from QSY Student Glen Campbell”. Glen continues to warm our hearts with this post about his recent trip to Mexico, and a connection he made with someone around the practice of yoga. You will want to read to all the way to the end of this post. We promise. 🙂

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I recently returned from an amazing trip with our neighbours to a resort in Manzanillo Mexico. It was an all inclusive type resort that included all meals, drinks, and daily activities including a 10am class every day called “ Stretching and Yoga”

The yoga class was located outside on a grassy area between one of the pools and overlooking the ocean. We would be taken through a series of yoga poses and stretches with a relaxed savasana to end the session. There was no singing of “Om”, no talk of breathing techniques or overall theme. It was different to what I’m used to at Queen Street Yoga but that was fine. I enjoyed the practice although it didn’t compare to the teachings at QSY. It was great to be outdoors in the warm morning air.Continue reading “Glen’s WOW Moment with Yoga in Mexico”

A Climate Change Collage

Emma shared this post about climate change and yoga teaching on her own blog yesterday morning. We’ve reposted it here to share it with the wider QSY community. 

In the past few months I have been re-inspired (particularly by this article) to set the tone of my yoga classes to include the awareness of rapid climate destabilization (aka climate change) as a present reality and backdrop to the “personal” or “internal” practice of yoga. I have also started to (subtly, slowly) introduce issues of race/racism and gender/sexism into the space of my asana classes. I hope to become more skilled at grappling with these pieces in my own life, as well as making them familiar vocabulary/reference points in my classes. I feel a bit clumsy at the moment, almost like I am learning to teach all over again.  These pieces (grappling with the reality of climate change, naming and responding to systems of oppression) feel closest right now to my spiritual core, so it makes sense that I am sharing them as part of my practice. I appreciate and acknowledge the work of others that continue to inspire and inform me in this arena (some of these others include Christi-an Slomka, Michael Stone and Matthew Remski). It is also such a gift to work side by side every day with Leena Miller Cressman, who values these pieces with the same fervour as I do, and together we are bringing these pieces to life at our studio.

So, last night in one of my classes at Queen Street Yoga I shared a passage, a poem and a question. I called it “A Climate Change Collage”. In my recent reading and searching for insight about the decline of the ecological world, I felt as if a conversation was emerging between the different pieces I was reading and collecting. I cobbled them together and read them to my class to frame our practice for the night. The passage was by Martin Keogh, from the introduction to a book of essays called “Hope Beneath Our Feet: Restoring Our Place in the Natural World“. The poem was by The Reverend Victoria Safford, and I had heard it read aloud by Parker Palmer during a recent podcast produced by On Being. And the question was from an interview between EcoBuddhism.org and Joanna Macy, which a mentor had shared with me earlier in the week.

Continue reading “A Climate Change Collage”

Unearthing Ideas of Privilege in Yoga

DSC_3578Kristina recently graduated from our 2014 Yoga Teacher Training Program and will be sharing her laughter and love of yoga at Queen Street Yoga, alternating teaching the Friday 5:30pm Hour Flow with her fellow YTT graduate Marta! Kristina wrote this piece about privilege in the yoga community after our October 2014 Yoga Teacher Training Weekend, in which we looked at the various ways that folks with different kinds of privilege (because of their race, gender, body type, sexuality) might experience a yoga studio (and the world) differently. 

Cath in Dorset- Assistant Gardener
Assistant Gardener by Cath in Dorset

I’ve been practicing yoga for about five years now.  As with anything new, in the beginning, I felt a little bit out of place.  I was uneasy about getting dressed in the change room with everyone else, uncertain of where to place my mat in the class room, and sometimes embarrassed about my inability to move with strength or grace through many of the postures that everyone else seemed so comfortable with.  Those fears were quickly dissolved by realizing that I wasn’t alone – others around me seemed to face the same fears, and those who had been around the block a few times were generally friendly and welcoming.  All was good.  What I didn’t realize was that this quickly-found comfort was, in many ways, a product of my privilege.

Continue reading “Unearthing Ideas of Privilege in Yoga”

A Heart-Warming Letter about Yoga from QSY Student Glen Campbell

Glen Campbell wrote this letter to us about how yoga has changed his life. He feels that yoga has played a large part in lowering his blood pressure and allowing his body to do a “natural bypass” to assist a blocked coronary artery. It has also helped him relate more effectively with his teenage son, and enjoy running his company. We are so happy that Glen stepped out of his comfort zone to join us at the studio, and we are so happy to see him so regularly in class! 

It was January of 2014 when I got hit with some bad news regarding my health. I had the same health issue five years earlier and it had returned. It was my heart again! I had been doing all the right things (diet, weight loss, don’t smoke, reducing stress and exercising) but my body rejected the stents that were put in my right coronary artery. It was 100% blocked again! My doctor told me nothing can be done surgically as it’s a difficult repair. Drugs were my only option and to just hope for the best. Every day I woke up and wondered if this would be the day I would have a heart attack. I could get through my day but if I did a little more than moderate cardio I could feel the pain in my chest. It was hard to plan for the future when I didn’t know if I was going to make it through the day. Not a great way to live. It was the darkest time of my life.

Continue reading “A Heart-Warming Letter about Yoga from QSY Student Glen Campbell”

The Power of Laughter

DSC_3578Kristina recently graduated from our 2014 Yoga Teacher Training Program and will be sharing her laughter and love of yoga at Queen Street Yoga, alternating teaching the Friday 5:30pm Hour Flow with her fellow YTT graduate Marta! Kristina is a tree-hugger by day, yogi by night.  In her spare time she loves to knit, cycle, take photos of tiny things, laugh with friends, and drink tea.

 

Matthew Grapengieser - Amazing Laughter sculpture by Yue MinjunPeople often comment on my laughter… I laugh a lot!  And I’ve heard all sorts of opinions about my laughter – it’s the “best ever”, it’s too loud, it’s like a bubbling brook, it’s inappropriate at times…

But my favourite is always when people tell me that hearing my laugh causes them to laugh – it’s true, laughter is often contagious!  And what’s wrong with that?  I know how good laughing makes me feel – and it only feels better when I see that spreading around me.

Laughter as Medicine

I think a lot of people could use more laughter in their lives.  Laughter is, after all, the best medicine, right?

Well, according to research, yes.  A good laugh can go a long way.  Laughter can have physiological, psychological, social, spiritual, and quality-of-life benefits.  Better yet, our brains can’t distinguish what is causing us to laugh.  Whatever the cause of our laughter – a natural response to a funny joke, a contagion caught between friends, or self-induced fake-it-till you make it laughter – our brains perceive it the same way, releasing the benefits into our bodies.

Continue reading “The Power of Laughter”