Leslie is a lead teacher at Queen Street Yoga, and this year she will be acting as an assistant for our 200-hour Teacher Training Program starting in October 2019. Leslie has lots to say about the program, as she completed it in 2016. Something Leslie is passionate about is encouraging people to both meet their bodies where they are at, and be curious about their bodies’ capacities for change.
At our first YTT info session back in April, someone asked how much physical practice we’d be doing over the training weekends, and whether it would be advanced or athletic practice. On a separate occasion, another regular student who is considering our program asked if we’d get into more complex poses, like eight angle pose during the training.
Some folks might feel a little intimidated by the prospect of intense group practice being a part of the teacher training process. Others are chomping at the bit to learn how to do more complex, demanding shapes. Looking at the list of applicants we’ve already received, I know some of them love to hulk out and feel the burn – they’re the type to sweat it out in Strength & Flow. At the same time, we’ve got other participants who are more into Yoga for Dynamic Aging, and are passionate about the benefits of restorative yoga.
In acknowledging the various cultural objects and practices that are part of QSY, we are hoping to begin to address elements that may be alienating for some people in accessing our space, or start a discussion with those who might not have considered this topic before. We welcome feedback and critique about our efforts.
At Queen Street Yoga, we are actively working to make our space more inclusive, more accessible, and anti-oppressive. As part of this work, we would like to acknowledge the cultural objects and practices that are present in our studio. Cultural appropriation is a reality in our world; cultures constantly borrow (or take) designs, images, clothing, and practices from one another. However, when a dominant culture, such as North America, does this to less politically, economically or socially powerful culture such as India, and those aspects are used outside of their original cultural context, this can have the effect of reducing or commodifying those aspects of culture in ways that can be disrespectful.
Here are some questions that we try to keep in mind as we consider the presence of cultural objects and practices at QSY. We invite you to try them on for yourself as well.
Students ask me all the time, “Am I doing this right?” about their yoga poses. They will look at me earnestly from their Warrior 2, wanting me to give them some kind of authoritative assessment of their pose. Sometimes they are curious, sometimes they are worried. That question always makes me hesitate. What does “right” mean?
I used to believe that there were “right” and “wrong” ways to do yoga poses. I would look at a photo of someone doing yoga and feel smug if I noticed something “off” about their alignment. My initial yoga teachers told me that there were certain ways of moving or aligning that were “optimal” and that being outside of that was undesirable. Now I think differently.
This post is written by Sara F, a graduate of our 200-hour teacher training program. She’s been our a familiar face on Sunday nights, hosting at the front desk during our 6:00pm $5 Basics. Keep your eyes open for Sara on June 1 at 1:00pm for our Yoga in the Park: Pride Edition.
Have you ever been in a yoga class where the teacher instructs a pose, and you either stand/lay there knowing the pose won’t work for your body, or you silently struggle into it and hope it will end soon?
Or, on a more positive note, have you been in a yoga class where the teacher offers variations of a pose, often with different props? If the teacher gave different options, you have experienced accessible or adaptive yoga, which offers solutions that allow people of allabilities and body types to practice and benefit from yoga. At Queen Street Yoga you may have heard teachers refer to pose options as “bus stops,” and how far you ride down the bus route is up to you.
And if you’re okay with that, let’s talk. If you could do without the inspirational branding of being a better you, or the aspirational promises of hard and fast transformation, then we can have a real conversation. We can look together at the process of yoga teacher training for what it is; a concentrated time of learning and engaging with yourself and with a community.
A lot of YTT marketing that I see rubs me the wrong way. It seems to promise spiritual, emotional and career transformation in a one-shot deal. And, I get why people are drawn to it. Who doesn’t want a quick fix? Who doesn’t want that promise fulfilled?
My first craniosacral treatment was a pivotal moment in my life. Somehow the appointment brought me into a deep place of connection with my mind and body. I left feeling completely relaxed, my movements felt fluid. I felt connected to my core. I wanted more.
What I experienced that day is something I now call the wisdom of the body. I also think of it as the body’s ability to heal and restore itself. This happens when a therapist is able to listen and respond to the body’s intelligence, rather than impose a treatment from the outside. Craniosacral is a form of bodywork that works from the inside out, moving from your body, outwards into the hands of the therapist.
So, how does it work?
Craniosacral Therapy works with the cranium (your skull) and it’s connection to your sacrum (the back of your pelvis). Let’s start with the skull.
Your skull is miraculous. It is a moving, pulsing structure. You may tend to think of your skull as one piece, like a coconut, but it does in fact have seams or sutures that join the bones of the skull together. These sutures have a zigzag pattern and the reason for that is that your skull actually moves, expanding and contracting with a rhythm; a pulse that is created as your cerebrospinal fluid circulates. Your whole body rolls within this rhythmic tide, causing not only movement within the skull, but also throughout your whole body. It travels along the spine to the sacrum; shoulders and arms roll In and out, hips and legs roll in and out, organs rotate around their axis.
This post is by Kristina Domsic, one of the facilitators of our upcoming Seeds of Intention: Yoga & Nature Retreat, May 24-26.
One of the things that makes our upcoming Seeds of Intention retreat unique is that participants will get to try out Forest Therapy, also known as Shinrin-yoku, or Forest Bathing, with a certified guide. This is an amazing way to explore the beautiful landscape around Harmony Dawn retreat centre. The landscape of rolling meadow, gardens, and forest around the centre have so much to offer.
When people first hear about the idea of forest therapy, they often have an intuitive sense of some of the ways this practice could be beneficial; since we were young, many of us have heard that fresh air is good for us! When we have felt overwhelmed by stressful situations, loved ones might have suggested we go for a walk to help shake it off and gain some new perspective. That part makes sense.
So, why not just go for a simple walk outside on your own?
Well, going for a walk outside on your own is definitely a good idea. But, there are also some stand-out benefits to joining a guided Forest Therapy session! Here are some of the highlights of what you can expect on our Forest Therapy sessions at theSeeds of Intention Retreatthis spring:
The first thing I learned in my yoga teacher training surprised me.
I assumed we would start with poses, or even yoga philosophy. But the very first thing we were taught was the importance of learning our students’ names.
My teacher went over strategies for remembering students’ names, and said, “Even if you have to ask their name every class, make the effort. It shows that you care, that you see them, that they are a real person to you.
Now that I’m in my tenth year of teaching, I cannot say how invaluable that first lesson has become. It is something I think about in every class that I teach. I love saying hello to people and voicing their name. I can tell that some people are surprised that I have made the effort to remember them, and by their smiles, I can tell that they appreciate it.
There are so many different kinds of yoga students.
There are the quiet ones who want to meditate on their mat before and after class. There are the chatty ones who talk everyone’s ear off at the water dispenser. There are the earnest ones who listen with rapt attention during class, and the jokers who heckle the teacher in good fun.
I have a tender spot in my heart for all my students, but I have a special spot reserved for yoga buddies, pairs of friends who come to class together. Usually when people come in pairs I get to know them a bit more. They tell me about how yoga is a part of their friendship. They come to class more regularly because they have a friend date and they don’t want to miss it! Yoga buddies often make the whole feeling of the class more like a hangout – they are more likely to crack jokes to each other in class, which makes everyone laugh. It’s a good scene.
When you see the class title Strength & Flow, what feelings or images come up? Does it make you think of a bootcamp class at the gym: grunting and burpees and shouting? Or maybe it brings up an experience of tightness in your body. One of the most commonly cited reasons for coming to yoga that I hear is, “I want to become more flexible.” Those same people often wonder if going to a class focused on strength is going to make them feel more stiff, rather than more flexible. We’ve got news for you: strength is flexibility’s best friend.
First things first though; don’t be nervous to try this class! You should know that Strength & Flow is actually quite doable, and nothing like bootcamp or gym class. The great thing about it is that it’s just as customizable as our other classes. The depth of your squat, the amount you can hinge at your hip, the time you spend time in plank, or the number of push-ups (with knees down if you want!) is up to you. You can sense the balance between fatigue and energy in your body on that day, and act accordingly. (And that’s where it becomes yoga.)
So why not “Flexibility & Flow,” when we know that flexibility is a goal for most people? Flexibility gets singled out as the physical quality that folks most desire. I get that – I began yoga without being able to touch my toes, and I used to fume with frustration and envy in seated poses because there was no way that I could straighten my knees, or tilt my pelvis forward – my back was rounded, my hamstrings felt tight, and that was that.
But: is flexibility all that it’s cracked up to be? And is passive stretching even the best way to feel and move better? You can probably tell that I don’t necessarily think so.