Enliven Your Spine with an Ergonomic Desk

Do you identify with this photo?

posture-skeletonMany of us do. Many of us use computer stations or laptops that are not positioned well for us to maintain healthy posture. Andy, Leena and I have become aware of the effects of non-ergonomic computer use while we’re working away at the studio, and we’ve been experimenting with different ways of elevating our screens, keyboards and mice so that we can work in a more optimal position for our spines. Check out the various desk arrangements we’ve experimented with. We are lucky to have lots of yoga blocks around to play with! Over the course of the day, we alternate between standing and sitting desk arrangements. (Read more about the benefits of standing desks in this article). We also try to take regular stretch breaks (which sometimes turn into dance breaks in the front studio) to move our bodies and rest our eyes.Continue reading “Enliven Your Spine with an Ergonomic Desk”

Anatomy Nerd-Out! Understanding your Lumbar Spine.

During our yoga teacher training this past year, one of our teachers-to-be sent us an email asking for clarification about the lower back and forward folding. What exactly is supposed to be happening back there? It’s an interesting subject and Leena has written a delightfully detailed reply. Check it out!

Q: Can you please help me to understand what the safety concern is for not rounding the spine too much in forward folds? Why do yoga teachers often emphasize a lower back curve?

Are we aiming to tilt the pelvis and have the sacrum be the highest point of our body?  What comes to my mind is that we want a even rounding on the spine, but why? Does it provide release for the sacrum? and if so why should we care about this?

A: The vertebra of your spine are designed for movement, and most people don’t move their spines nearly enough. Think of the positions you spend most of your time in: sitting, laying down, walking. None of these positions require much spinal movement. On the other hand, think of a dog running full tilt. Four legged animals use their spine to locomote. One reason yoga is so great for the body and particularly the spine and nervous system is that it helps us awaken, move, and lengthen the spine through flexion (forward bending), extension (back bending), rotation (twisting) and lateral movements.Continue reading “Anatomy Nerd-Out! Understanding your Lumbar Spine.”

A Year of Yoga Musings

This post was written by Lisa French, one of our newest QSY teachers. Lisa participated in our 2014 Yoga Teacher Training Program and wrote this reflection at the very end of the program. Our next Yoga Teacher Training program will begin in September 2015. If you’re curious about our program, please come to an info session in March or April. Read on for a glimpse into the process of becoming a yoga teacher, through Lisa’s eyes.

YTT 2015 info sessions

This past weekend was the final weekend of a year long journey into yoga teacher training.  It has been everything that I expected and so much more.  Here are some of my thoughts recorded over the span of the entire year in no particular order.Continue reading “A Year of Yoga Musings”

Matthew Remski’s Thoughtful Response to Our Inversion Policy

Lyn Tally- Park Circle Community Yoga
Lyn Tally- Park Circle Community Yoga

Leena’s recent blog post on our Inversion policy has received a lot of attention from the online yoga community. The post currently has over 7,500 views. Matthew Remski, who is part of QSY’s Yoga Teacher Training faculty and is currently teaching a course on Ayurveda here at the studio, has written a thoughtful response to Leena’s post, citing his own research into the intersection of yoga, injury, pedagogy and medical research.

Matthew’s response was published on Yoga International and had over 40,000 views in the first few days. We really appreciate the research Matthew has been doing in his WAWADIA project, and the greater context he is able to place this discussion in.

Continue reading “Matthew Remski’s Thoughtful Response to Our Inversion Policy”

Student Spotlight — Who Came to the Most Classes in 2014?

student spotlightThis Student Spotlight focuses on Jeremy, Barb and Mary, three members of Queen Street Yoga who came to an average of 182 classes each in 2014! Their combined total? A staggering 548 classes. They get the “Highest Attendance Award” from us. Congratulations!

Leena, the studio owner, joked “That’s definitely more than I practiced last year!

Leena and Emma caught up with these avid yogis after an Hour Flow class last week. We took a photo, and they chatted about their favourite poses.Continue reading “Student Spotlight — Who Came to the Most Classes in 2014?”

In This Heart (Emma’s Savasana Songs + Free Download)

This post is brought to you by Emma!

Just before Christmas, I spent an afternoon in a friend’s basement recording studio. QSY students have been asking me for years to record the songs that I sing for them in savasana. I recorded five songs, and will be releasing them periodically here on the blog. Each song will be available as a free download, a gift from the studio to each of you. Thank you for being such consistent and caring members of our studio community!

Continue reading “In This Heart (Emma’s Savasana Songs + Free Download)”

Headstand and Shoulderstand at Queen Street Yoga


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 and on 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?

judy_and_ed- Yogi and Her ShadowsDifferent 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.

Continue reading “Headstand and Shoulderstand at Queen Street Yoga”

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”

Queen Street Yoga: My First Yoga Love

Long time QSY student Carina Gaspar recently moved to Toronto, and she wrote this humorous post for her own blog about “breaking up” with Queen Street Yoga. We’ve since decided with her that we don’t have to break-up, but she can be in a long distance relationship with the studio. We look forward to seeing her on weekends when she’s back visiting from Toronto!

QSY is the kind of place that stays with you long after you go home. Where you feel pulled to go back, as opposed to having to push yourself to go in the first place. Where you feel a little homesick when you’re away for too long. And it’s because it has heart. And kickass teachers. And big windows, comfy blankets, a studio with character and cuteness, an approach that’s holistic and open and fluid. And, at the moment, a pretty rad sticker collection.

Continue reading “Queen Street Yoga: My First Yoga Love”

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”