This summer I am taking a four-month break from teaching, and I’ll be getting on a train and going out to the west coast of Canada. I’m intending to spend some time on the beautiful island of Haida Gwaii, and also visit some friends in Alberta, B.C. and Oregon.
I am excited to take a break from teaching, as there are many things that I am currently learning and churning about human movement, and I want to give myself some time to digest and practice outside of the space of teaching.Continue reading “Emma’s Teaching Break”
We have been offering Registered Massage Therapy and Registered Acupuncture for several years at QSY in our wellness space. This June we are excited to welcome Laura, a Naturopathic Doctor, to our wellness practitioner team! Here’s a post where Laura introduces herself and her approach.
Hello! My name is Laura Tummon Simmons, and I’m a licensed naturopathic doctor (ND) in Ontario. I’m very blessed to say I’m starting my private practice at Queen Street Yoga (QSY) in Kitchener in June of 2016. I grew up in the Waterloo Region and attended Cameron Heights, just down the street, before completing my degrees in Toronto. Currently, I’m transitioning back to the region, while completing an additional clinical residency program at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. I became an ND because I believe in the importance of the doctor-patient relationship, and I wanted to establish long-term care with my patients.
People often don’t know about naturopathic medicine apart from what they may read in the public sphere, so for my first blog entry here with QSY I thought it might be a good place to start explaining a little bit about naturopathic medicine in general, and what you can expect if you or someone you know chooses to see me.
First of all, what is naturopathic medicine? Naturopathic medicine or naturopathy is a field of health care which involves the treatment of individuals with natural therapies and behavioural changes. These therapies aim to support each patient’s condition uniquely. Depending on your case some of these various treatments may include: acupuncture, botanical medicine, nutrition/dietary changes, supplementation, lifestyle changes, hydrotherapy, and counselling. Ultimately, the goals of treatment are to help identify causes of disease in a whole-person model, provide you with sustainable changes and education to help manage symptoms, and potentially prevent future harm. Naturopathic doctors are a self-regulated profession under the College of Naturopaths of Ontario.Continue reading “Introducing Naturopathic Medicine at QSY”
This post is from QSY Director, Leena Miller Cressman about her plans to take a 6-week break from teaching. Leena will be back to teaching January 12. In the meantime, all her classes will still be on the schedule, and will be taught by our other excellent teachers. You can check out the live schedule here.
I love teaching. I love guiding folks through these embodiment explorations we call yoga. I love watching a student take a deeper breath, or release tension from their jaw. I love seeing the exhilaration on someone’s face when they kick up to their first handstand. I love the peaceful, resonant sound of a whole group singing the sound of Aum at the end of class.
Getting to teach yoga as a profession, and lead our community at QSY is an enormous privilege.
When you love something deeply, it can be easy to forget that you still need breaks and healthy boundaries. You still need time to refresh and explore things from a new perspective.
I recently had a great conversation with a university professor friend of mine. I shared with her that it felt challenging to juggle the administrative work of running the studio, teaching public classes, workshops and yoga teacher training, and also make space for research and development and learning. Without much time for my own learning, it was feeling difficult to be as refreshed and innovative as I’d like to be when I teach. She pointed out that this is the precise reason for sabbaticals in the academic world. Every three years or so, tenured academics get a period where they are free from their teaching load, they lessen their administrative duties, and they get to pour themselves wholeheartedly into their research and learning. Since I don’t have a PhD I’ll just call what I need a “learning break.”Continue reading “Leena’s Learning Break”
This post was written by QSY Director, Leena Miller Cressman.
This fall, Queen Street Yoga turns 10! It’s a significant milestone as a small business and as a community. According to this article by Forbes, only about one-third of small business survive 10 or more years. Yippee, beating the odds! In addition to throwing an awesome party to celebrate (more on that later on), I wanted to share some of the story of how Queen Street Yoga came to be what it is today.
Just over ten years ago Meaghan Johnson, a Kitchener native, founded the studio. From the story I remember Meaghan telling me, at the time she wasn’t planning to open a large yoga studio. However, someone tipped her off about this beautiful space with glowing hardwood floors, big windows and high ceilings that used to be a dance studio, but now was sitting vacant. (Before it was a dance studio our space was a club called Pop the Gator- if anyone has photos or stories about that send them our way!) Meaghan arranged to visit the vacant space, and upon walking into the space she exclaimed, “Well shit, now I have to open a yoga studio. This space is too perfect.”
The studio opened with a staff of several other teachers in addition to Meaghan, and always had an emphasis on mindful, alignment-based yoga, with a grassroots community feel. Meaghan once told me that she opened the studio with about $1,000 and slowly invested and grew the business from there. This gradual model of growth, alongside a lot of community support, thoughtful offerings, and caring, dedicated students, teachers and administrators is why we’re still open and still growing today, ten years later.Continue reading “100 Faces- 10 Years of QSY”
We are excited to introduce weekly Community Acupuncture at QSY with Registered Acupuncturist Nir Saar! In this post QSY director, Leena, explains the primary functions of the nervous system, and how exhaustion of the nervous system can lead to a myriad of health problems. Leena is a big proponent of restorative yoga and acupuncture, and she details how restorative and acupuncture can help regulate and heal an exhausted nervous system, and boost your health on many levels. Read towards the end of the post to get a sense of how Community Acupuncture, which is super affordable, will operate at QSY.
Stress is a dirty word in our busy North American, urbanized society, and no doubt many of us experience stress on a regular, if not daily basis. But more technically speaking, at the level of the body and nervous system, stress is actually neutral. It’s how we process stress that makes all the difference.
Stress is what your body/mind does to adapt to change. Our bodies evolved in environments where responding to change usually involves some amount of muscular action, like to run away from a tiger (muscles spring tighter to take action, eyes focus, heart rate increases), and the mode of your nervous system called the sympathetic mode is utilized.Continue reading “#Selfcare: Community Acupuncture and Restorative Yoga at QSY”
When I first started teaching at Queen Street Yoga in January of 2011, I felt like the luckiest person alive. I had just finished my teacher training, and Meaghan (QSY’s founder and then-owner) came to a class I was teaching in Uptown Waterloo, and hired me on the spot! I was nervous and excited to start teaching at QSY. The first regular class I taught was a Thursday community class at 6pm.
A year later I was teaching drop-in classes on Wednesdays and Saturdays. When I first started teaching on Wednesdays and Saturdays, the class sizes were much smaller. I often taught classes of 2 or 3. Now the classes are full of regular students, usually no less than 15 (and the occasional Saturday is overflowing at 35!) It has felt so rewarding to build relationships with so many people over the years. I have often said to students that my teaching is a co-creation – I couldn’t do it without them! (Really. I would just be talking to an empty room.)
My teaching schedule has been getting fuller and fuller in the past few years. I teach a number of pre-registered courses (Intro to Yoga, Yoga for Round Bodies) and I oversee the Intro to Yoga program, mentoring our new teachers in how to most effectively teach beginners. I love teaching Rest & Renew, and the pace of teaching Basics classes really appeals to me (lots of time to get exploratory in the subtle movements and sensations of the poses.) This September Leena and I will begin teaching our second Yoga Teacher Training program, with an amazing group of enthusiastic learners.Continue reading “Emma says Goodbye to Wednesdays and Saturdays”
We’re pleased to announce a new class is joining our schedule starting in May:
Queer & Trans Yoga
Sundays 6:00-7:00pm with Shannon Knutson
A class for folks who self-identify as queer, trans, LGBTQ+ and want to be part of a positive community space. All abilities, bodies, and sizes are welcome and celebrated in this beginner-friendly class. Sliding scale price ($3-15) with all proceeds going to local Queer and Trans-Positive organizations.
Our intention is to provide a gathering place for yoga practice for those who may feel underrepresented in yoga studio communities, and help create a safer space where students can celebrate who they are. Queer and Trans Yoga is for all levels, and we will focus on breathing, mindfulness, and strength-building in a supportive and body-positive environment.
A private, all-gender changeroom and washroom is available at the studio.
An optional community gathering to share coffee/tea/snacks will be held once a month after class. Join our Facebook group “QSY Queer and Trans Yoga”, or call or email us for details and updates.
This post was written by Leena Miller Cressman, director of Queen Street Yoga, about her current thinking and understanding of inversions.
We recently added the following statement to our “Studio Policy and Etiquette” document that we post around the studio andon our website. We are the first yoga studio community that we know of to make a public statement about this. We hope that this adds to important conversations about safety and risk in the wider yoga community.
Inversions at QSY: We choose not to teach full Headstand and full Shoulderstand (where weight is placed on the head and neck) due to safety concerns for the spine. We ask that students do not practice these poses before, after, or during public classes for the safety of all QSY members.
What’s an inversion anyway?
Different styles or traditions of yoga define inversions differently. Most generally, inversions can be any pose where the head is at a lower position than the heart and pelvis. This could include simple and common poses like downward-facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) or standing forward bend (Uttansana), but also arm balancing poses like handstand or forearm stand. The two poses often called “full inversions” in yoga literature are headstand (Salamba Sirsasana) and shoulderstand (Salamba Sarvangasana). Many teachers, such as BKS Iyengar, have gone as far as to say that headstand and shoulderstand are the King and Queen of all yoga poses.
What is Scent Sensitivity? A number of QSY community members (students and staff) have reported being impacted by scents present at the studio. As we seek to be an inclusive, welcoming place for all, we would like to do our best to reduce the risk of our students and teachers being negatively affected by scents in our studio.
The vast majority of fragrances are synthetically created, and many contain ingredients that can be harmful to your health. These fragrances are added to everything from shampoo, to laundry detergents, to candles and household products. Many chemicals used in synthetic fragrances are derived from petroleum and include benzene derivatives, aldehydes and many other known toxins and synthesizers capable of causing cancer, birth defects, central nervous system disorders and allergic reactions.
Scents enter our bodies through our skin and our lungs. The chemicals in scents can cause many different reactions. While some people are only mildly affected by scents, others have severe reactions. Some common symptoms include: headaches, migraines, dizziness, weakness, shortness of breath, nausea, asthma.
QSY aims to be a scent-free environment.
We ask that all students and staff refrain from wearing any scents to the studio. This includes: scented deodorants, hand creams/lotions, perfume or cologne, scented lip balm and other scented products. If at all possible, we ask students who come regularly to our studio if they would consider switching their laundry detergent to an unscented product. Laundry detergents cause some of the most severe allergic reactions for some of our students.
Fragrance-free options at local Kitchener stores: Full Circle Foods -Desert Essence Organics Shampoo & Conditioner, fragrance free Shoppers Drug Mart -Life brand Body Wash, fragrance free -Live Clean brand Shampoo & Conditioner fragrance free -Balea brand Bar Soap, fragrance free -Dove brand Bar Soap, fragrance free
Practicing and teaching yoga outside is a big highlight of my summer. I love to take my own practice to the park as soon as it gets warm, either by myself or with friends. I love how soft and forgiving the grass is when playing around with new things like arm balances or handstands. I love feeling the breeze on my skin and looking up at the tree tops while I’m in a pose. To me yoga is about relationship and connection, and in practicing yoga outside the feeling of connection to the environment and the world is more palpable and sweetly profound. I’ve been teaching yoga outside for the past few years (partnering with theCity of Kitchener for Wednesday classes, and sharingQueen Street Yoga love on Sundays) and I love sharing the practice of awareness, breath and movement with new people. Continue reading “Teaching Yoga in Public Spaces: The Power of an Outdoor Practice”