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.

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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.

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Yoga Teachers are Real People

Kristian Bjonard
OPhoto by Kristian Bjornard


Our 2014 Yoga Teacher Training wrapped up this past weekend, and our graduates are now fanning out across Kitchener, beginning to make their own individual, unique paths in the world of teaching yoga! We wish them lots of continued learning, and send them off with this sweetly humorous post from Teacher Training graduate Tiffany.

I have to admit that, prior to starting my Yoga Teacher Training, I had pretty stereotypical pre-conceived notions about yoga teachers and the kind of lives that they lead. To paint an exaggerated caricature; picture an always smiling, socially responsible and community involved super-yogi. You know the type…they practice advanced postures every day, teach mind melting sequences and are completely body omniscient. (Not to mention the deliciously slow pace at which they seem to live.) Calm. Accepting. Flexible.

So when I started the teacher training program in January, part of me assumed that I would slowly start to adopt some of these qualities- at least the body omniscience, flexibility and calm. My expectations for my asana practice were set high. (Intensity, frequency, progress, etc.) I figured that I’d make it to the studio twice a week and practice for at least 30 minutes on the days that I couldn’t get there. I’d write a couple of new sequences each week and make time each day to do a bit of reading and homework. Obviously, with all of this practice, my hamstrings would open up and by half way through the program I’d be able to perfectly demo for my students…Continue reading “Yoga Teachers are Real People”

Improving without Perfectionism? How to Get Better and Still Love Yourself

Enough. These few words are enough.

If not these few words, this breath

If not this breath, this sitting here.


This opening to life

we have refused

again and again

until now.


Until now.

                    – David Whyte



This blog post is by one of our soon-to-be YTT graduates, Adriane.

Still Learning…

I will start by noting that I am writing this blog post, not because I have mastered the art of improving through self-love, but because I am the one who needs to learn this skill most.

If you are anything like me, you have been perplexed by how one improves without a healthy does of perfectionism. You need to be a little bit of a perfectionist when striving to be the best, right? Well actually, as I have contemplated this more I have come to realize that perfectionism is the one thing that really gets in my way. It is the source of my negative self-talk and -defeatism. In her book, The Gifts of Imperfections, Brené Brown says, “perfectionism is a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from taking flight”.

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Adapting Yoga for a Pregnant Body

This blog post was written by Michelle, one of our yoga teacher trainees, who recently gave birth to a healthy baby boy. Check out her post on adapting her yoga practice for a pregnant body.

I received the exciting news that I was pregnant during my first week of my year long yoga teacher training. As I approach my due date, I’d like to share how I’ve adapted my practice while growing a human being and the benefits that yoga has provided during my pregnancy. The points below are from my personal experience and may not apply to all pregnant students, but I hope they can be useful if you are expecting or if you are a yoga teacher with a pregnant student in your class.

Most Regular Yoga Poses can be Adapted

When possible, I try to go to special pre-natal yoga classes, but they don’t usually work with my schedule. And, as a regular yoga practitioner, I find that pre-natal classes are often missing some of my favourite aspects of asana (poses), such as surya namaskar (sun salutations). Mostly, I continue to do my regular practice and go to open level classes, adding a few adjustments, which I’ve outlined below.
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Don’t “Unfriend” Your Pain — Follow it!

Kate Ter Haar - Pain is inevitableSharon has been teaching Physical Education in schools for many years. She recently retired and has turned her learning towards yoga teaching, participating in our 2014 Yoga Teacher Training. In this blog post she shares about learning to listen to pain and seeing it as a friend trying to help. 

Body Talk

Most people notice pain as it begins.  It is our body talking to us – “Stop what you’re doing!”  Pain is trying to help us and support us throughout our lives to keep us safe. Our own personal goodwill ambassador !  Why then do we choose to ignore such a valuable friend? The way out of pain is to attend to it and be sure to acknowledge it through self-awareness. Drugs and other substances are only a temporary solution to blunt or mask the pain. Welcome the pain and know that through its support early on, you will get well again by listening to your body.

Pain’s arch-enemy is the ego. Your ego is what you think you are. Our ego, we listen to all the time.  It’s what makes us do really irrational things sometimes . . . often even things that hurt us. We really should change things around . . . Listen less to our ego and more to our pain. I think in the long run we probably would be much happier.
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How I “Teach” Ayurveda

candlesAuthor, therapist and yoga teacher Matthew Remski will be teaching a 36 hour Ayurveda Course at Queen Street Yoga starting in January 2015. This blog post illuminates his approach to teaching, and the value he feels Ayurveda can bring to expanding our awareness and creating more balance and richness in our lives.

First of all, I don’t really teach. I used to think I was teaching, back at the dawn of my nine-year span of leading this course. But sitting with clients for all that time has shown me that the best I can and should do is simply facilitate better conversations about personal and social health. This requires my learning as much about a student’s circumstance as I can share with them in terms of Ayurvedic theory. This means creating a learning space that’s conversational, which makes sense for a practice that’s nothing if it’s not about empowerment.

The baroque details of formal Ayurveda can be listed, memorized and regurgitated, but the real art lies in the discussion of principles between people who experience them differently, fueled in part by the Socratic questions of a facilitator, but more robustly by seeing how other people feel and narrate their experience towards an attentive appreciation for the intelligence of their flesh. It’s also good to have people examine each other’s hands and listen to each other’s pulses – not to form opinions (until much later), but to first appreciate the diverse ways in which the flesh speaks. The main tool I try to empower uses the embodied poetry of daily experience: how to take dictation from what is felt.

Here’s an incomplete list of principles that have crystallized in my particular river of Ayurvedic facilitation…
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10 Days of Silent Meditation – Leslie’s Learnings on Aches & Pains

This post was written by one of our work trades and Queen Street Conversations organizers, Leslie! Leslie spent 10 days this past summer in meditation at the Ontario Vipassana Centre. In this post she shares what she learned from sitting still and breathing.

Experimenting in mind-matter

Did you ever wonder what it might be like to get up at 4 AM and sit directly on your ischial tuberosities (those are your sitting bones 🙂 ) for ten or more hours… for ten days in a row? Me neither – but this past August I did happen to find out, and am here to report back on exactly how that kind of thing feels. It’s tough and it hurts, but wouldn’t you know, it’s worth the struggle.

The precise details of this experiment in living monastically can be found on the website for the Ontario Vipassana Centre – a fully-functioning retreat and service space in the tradition of S.N. Goenka, offering the opportunity to learn about and practice Dhamma and the meditation techniques of Anapana and Vipassana. For me, a school teacher in summer-mode, the schedule was punishing. The noble silence was astounding. And with seven hours of self-directed meditation time and three and a half hours of group sitting, the mental work, boredom and solitude ran the gamut from insufferable to incredible. With a mere six-week course of introductory meditation at Queen Street Yoga under my belt, I pretty much dove into the deep end after one quick toe-dip.

So what exactly happens when a run-of-the-mill yogi (in the modern, Western, I “do” yoga  kind of way) gets serious about exploring the reality of their mind-matter conscious experience?

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Korean Comfort Food in Downtown Kitchener


Queen Street Eats


When a fall chill seeps into your bones, there’s nothing like warm, spicy soup or rice nestled in a piping-hot bowl. Korean cuisine offers my favourite comfort food to partner with autumn’s arrival. And I’ve found some tasty options at Shinla Garden in downtown Kitchener.

Located on King Street, Shinla Garden doesn’t look like much — you may have walked past this small restaurant without ever trying the cheap but tasty fare inside. But once you step inside, it’s well worth the the slightly cheesy background music and plain decor.

What to order? Decisions, decisions…

BibimbapAre you a Korean newbie or a long-time kimchi lover? Either way, an excellent first choice is Dolsot Bibimbap. It’s the ultimate Korean comfort food: a thick stone bowl heated in an oven, filled with white rice and topped with sauteed veggies, dried kim (seaweed), some meat and a fried egg. Top this with a mild hot sauce to your own taste and stir it all together to hear the satisfying sizzle of your meal getting acquainted with the hot stone bowl.

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How Yoga Teacher Training Helped me Find My Voice

KayVee INC - Wearing your heart on your sleeve

Has speaking in public ever been a fear of yours? One of our Yoga Teacher Trainees was dead-scared of speaking in front of people – now 8 months through the program that has changed a great deal for her. Read on to hear about Jess’ journey in finding her voice.

Finding my voice

Months ago (I can’t believe it’s already been that long) we started our teacher training program by introducing ourselves and by sharing an item that was particularly special to us. We sat in a circle and shared our names for the very first time. When the spotlight hit me, I shared that public speaking, or speaking in any group setting really, made me extremely uncomfortable. It was something I was consciously working on, but it still proved to be a bit of a hurdle. I’d brought a mala necklace with a smoky quartz stone, that I had recently started wearing, that acted as a constant reminder that I could open my mind to connect with my voice. Even just sharing this with the group made my palms sweat, my heart race and my face hot. Explaining the discomfort made me even more uncomfortable- shocking, right? I knew that this program would challenge me in more ways than one, but I also know that they very best kind of learning and growth comes when you are uncomfortable. So here I was, ready to learn.

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