Sometimes when I am teaching, I feel a bit like a stand-up comedian. Depending on the mood and tone of the class, I might crack a lot of jokes, and add silly sound effects. Like a stand-up comedian, I try to poke fun at assumptions in our culture, usually those particular to the context of a yoga class.
With a sense of irony, I say things like:
“And if you can’t do crow pose, just know that you’re not as good of a person as everyone else.”
“Come out of this pose whenever you want. But you might not. Because peer pressure is real.”
When people laugh, I know I have struck a chord. The laughter denotes recognition of some sliver of truth. The truth that we still might be holding ideas about our physical abilities being equated to our moral character. Or how we have been conditioned to go along with a group, instead of listening to our individual needs.
Last week I experienced a huge win while teaching my Wednesday night Intro to Yoga class.
I have been teaching Intro to Yoga for 6 years. I have re-written the curriculum three times, trained numerous teachers to share it, and this spring it is undergoing it is fourth reincarnation.
The Intro includes all of the basic poses of yoga: downward dog, plank, lunges, Warrior poses, bridge, etc. Over the years I have learned how to integrate props into the class, making the poses more doable for more people. I have learned how to sequence the classes in a step-by-step way, introducing the poses and transitions slowly over time.
But something was still missing.
People who found certain poses challenging, for example a lunge, would come up into the lunge and wobble side to side. Their balance might improve a bit from week to week as they tried it again and again, but I noticed it would usually take the wobbliest students several months before they started to seem steadier in their lunge pose.
You might have noticed some gradual changes in classes at QSY. Leena and I and many of our teachers have been incorporating movements like squats and push-ups into our yoga flows. “Where did the Chatturungas go?” you might be wondering. “Why are we doing squats in a yoga class?” You’re not alone in wondering this! This post will let you in on how and why our yoga teaching is changing and evolving …
You might have heard this term, as it has been getting a lot of buzz in the last few years. Functional Movement refers to movements or exercises that prepare the body to do the things that you do in everyday life – like get in and out of your car or bed, stoop down to pick up your toddler, carry groceries or keep yourself from slipping and falling on the ice. A lot of yoga poses can help you feel stronger and more able to do these movements, but many yoga poses are not that functional – they don’t help you become stronger or more flexible in “useful” ways. There can be different kinds of benefits to some of these poses – maybe they invoke a quality of reflection or introspection, even if they don’t help you move better in your daily life. We think there is room for all different kinds of movements in a yoga practice, whether they are immediately useful to you, or useful in a less tangible way.Continue reading “Where did all the Chatturungas go?”
We originally posted this article and ten tips about establishing a home practiceon our blog in 2014. These tips are still relevant now, and with our building a home practice workshop around the corner, we have been thinking about home practice a lot lately.
No matter who you are, keeping up a home yoga practice can be difficult at times. Heck, even our Yoga Teacher Trainees struggle with it sometimes! We showed our YTT’s this articleon 10 Tips and Tricks to Establishing a Regular Home Yoga practice and asked them what they thought.
“My adjustment card is always turned to green but I rarely get hands-on adjustments from the teacher. I am starting to take it kind of personally. Why aren’t I getting more hands-on adjustments?”
Queen Street Yoga had this question posed to us by a student and we want to respond to it. There is a big conversation about hands-on adjustments going on in the yoga community that includes conversation about teaching styles and qualifications, consent, and trauma awareness. Emma is one of the Co-Directors of Queen Street Yoga, and this is her current thinking/reflecting around common assumptions about hands-on adjustments. We welcome your comments, feedback, and conversation around this topic.
Assumption #1 – Yoga teachers are fully qualified and trained to give manual/therapeutic* adjustments.
Restorative yoga is a powerful healing tool that helps to reduce stress and support the body’s innate responses toward balance and health. As a very gentle form of yoga, restorative yoga integrates resting postures, breath techniques, and meditative relaxation. Read on to discover more about our upcoming immersion into this practice.
Here are three reasons why our immersion into Restorative Yoga is for you.
After this immersion you will be able to:
CUSTOMIZE a restorative yoga sequence to meet your specific needs
A few years ago, my yoga teaching went through a big shift. Research was emerging about stretching and biomechanics that challenged the way I thought about the benefits of yoga. There were many assumptions about the body and yoga and movement that I had to re-examine. For a time I felt like a fraud, like I shouldn’t even be teaching yoga, if so many of my core understandings were being challenged! It was difficult, but ultimately I am glad that I went through it. I feel like I have emerged with more humility, and an understanding of how little I know, how little is known about the incredible diversity of embodiment, how much there is left to discover. And at this point, I am committed to being a forever student of human movement, and I am actively seeking out different influences, paradigms and teachers to add to my understanding, my movement practice, and my teaching.
A year ago I took my first Axis Syllabus class in Toronto, and I have been seeking out this kind of movement exploration ever since. From January through May I regularly drove to Toronto for Axis Syllabus labs, and in June I flew down to Boston for a 5-day workshop with the initiator/founder of the Axis Syllabus. Since returning from my 4 month sabbatical, I’ve been studying privately with Axis Syllabus practitioners in Toronto. I’ve created the upcoming Movement Explorations workshops happening in January and February as a way to share some of what I’ve been learning about this past year with the community at Queen Street Yoga. Continue reading “Sliding on the Floor in Socks – Movement Explorations with Emma!”
My friends and family were super-supportive of my deep dive into yoga through teacher training, and I’ve been enthusiastic to talk about my experience overall.Though my physical practice wasn’t consistent directly leading up to the start of the program, few people expressed surprise that I would pursue my yoga teaching certification.However, for reasons that I will attempt to share, I kept my plan to apply for teacher training on the down-low initially.
While I’d practiced at QSY many years ago, I was by no means a regular face-about-the-studio in 2014, when I first learned about QSY’s yoga teacher certification program.That year, I took notice that the course was being offered, gave it some surface-level thought, and then proceeded to dismiss it, rhyming off the many reasons why the timing wasn’t right.
Fast-forward to Spring of 2015, and I was creeping the QSY website once again, keeping my eyes peeled for teacher training updates for the coming Fall.When I saw that an info session was being offered later that year, I decided to attend.
The info session was a casual and intimate gathering facilitated by the directors of the studio, Leena and Emma.We sat on the floor in a circle—more on this format later—introduced ourselves, our individual interests in teacher training, asked questions, and got answers. Continue reading “My Yoga Practice: An Unexpected Realization”
I work as a mediator with a local organization called Community Justice Initiatives (CJI). Our work is rooted in the principles of Restorative Justice (RJ), which looks at unique ways to repair the harm done to people and relationships by engaging the individual who caused the harm, the people affected by the harm, and the community. By creating a safe place for conversation to happen, meaning and understanding can occur between the people involved and the community to restore relationships and allow for healing.
Recently, at the Waterloo Region Restorative Justice Circle, a collective of like minded individuals promoting RJ, we discussed how Waterloo Region is a hub of Restorative Justice. Rooted in strong aboriginal and Mennonite traditions, Restorative Justice principles are ingrained in much of the good work that is done throughout our Region, and elsewhere. There are local organizations we naturally look towards for leadership around Restorative Justice, CJI and Conrad Grebel as examples, but we wanted to cast a larger net and identify other organizations who approach their work and role in the community from a restorative perspective.
For me, Queen Street Yoga (QSY) exemplifies this restorative approach to community. Take a look at their vision statement. The three sections of QSY’s vision statement are Rooted in Practice, Growing Community, and Cultivating Vibrant Lives.
In yoga asana practice there are many positions where we weight bear with the wrists in extension. Think of table pose, downward dog, plank or handstands. In all those positions the wrist joint is in what we call extension. Our wrists are also often stiff and weak from having our wrists stuck in one position for long time when using keyboards, or from other repetitive movements. If we don’t work to re-strengthen and stretch the wrists in different positions, this overuse can lead to pain or even longer-term issues like carpal tunnel syndrome.
This fun Begging Dog exercise is a great way to increase range of motion and strengthen your wrists. We recommend doing repetitions of the exercise regularly throughout your day, especially when you’re working at a computer. Sound effects are optional, but encouraged. 🙂