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.
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.
Emma from Queen Street Yoga here. And if you are a yoga teacher in KW, I’m jealous of you. 😉
When I did my teacher training, I had to travel. Not to glamourous locations like Costa Rica or India, but to small studios in freezing Winnipeg and land-locked Cincinnati. I travelled because I am picky – I knew who I wanted to study with, and I was willing to go the distance. I slept on couches, spent hours on Greyhound buses. One time I even got turned away from the US border (that is a story for another day). It was exciting to see new places and learn new things, but it was also a slog.
I experienced wonderful bonds and community with the people in my trainings (200hr and beyond), but it was hard to sustain the excitement and conversation once I returned home. Leena was the only other yoga teacher in KW that was studying the same type of yoga as me. So for a long time, it was just her and I, talking about teaching and practicing together.
Leena and I took over the leadership of Queen Street Yoga in 2012 and since then, have created the kind of yoga teacher trainings that we wish we could have taken. Leena also travelled a lot for training, and while it was cool for her to study with Ram Dass in Maui (just a little name-dropping for ya), it lacked the continuity and growth that comes with ongoing community.Our teacher trainings in the last few years have aimed to connect individuals to a lively and regular sense of community – that “thing” that most of us are seeking in our lives. With the practice of yoga and mindfulness at the centre, our trainings have evolved to become transformative communities.
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.
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
This post was written by QSY director, Leena Miller Cressman.
If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you know that we’re not exactly big fans of headstands with the weight on the head around QSY. You can read more about our yoga-world famous post (or was it infamous?) here on our blog and here in Yoga International.
(If you want to know why I joke that it was infamous, check out the comments section on the Yoga International post… good times! My favorite is the commenter “Nico”, who repeatedly refers to me as “Ms. Don’t Do That”. Thanks, Nico, I love the new nickname! All things considered, compared to much of the internet, it’s a pretty tame comments section.)
So while we choose not to practice and teach headstand (and shoulderstand) at QSY because of safety concerns for the issues that might arise from weight bearing on the neck, we do love our handstands and variations of headstand where the shape of the pose is similar but no actual weight is placed on the head (making it a headless headstand). Continue reading “Yoga Tips from QSY- Headless Headstand”
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.