A few weeks ago, Leena and I went to a climate change support group. The event alternated between conversations in pairs and as a whole group. We talked about our love and appreciation of nature and our pain and worry at seeing the climate crisis evolve. We ended by envisioning new actions we could take, as individuals and as communities.
I thought I would leave the group feeling sad and overwhelmed, but instead I left energized and upbeat. I felt relieved to be sitting in a room of people talking about the crisis, rather than avoiding it.
And it brought Leena and I back to wondering what the practice of yoga can be at this time. If there can be a place for yoga to be a part of the change we want to see, rather than carrying on like it’s business as usual.
Yoga is a business, and Queen Street Yoga exists within capitalism. Yoga can be viewed as a tool of capitalism, a way to keep the cogs in the machine going. Yoga can help reduce stress in the workforce so everyone can keep consuming and the machine of big business can continue, unchecked.
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.
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?
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:
I called it my artist’s retreat, to describe to others why I was going away all by myself.I have always been one to juggle too many balls in the form of jobs, socializing, craft projects and learning new things. A few balls in particular had been dropped for too long, so I decided to set aside some time just for them. I began constructing an agenda of how I’d spend my time on my fantastic retreat: yoga practice, meditation, plenty of sleep, hikes and bike rides through the wilderness, and above all, making a lot of art.
I booked a cabin for the week leading up to the Summer Solstice. I was ready to get up early, tackle my art and get somewhere with my meditation and yoga practice.But my retreat had something else in store for me.
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.
A special message from QSY Director, Leena Miller Cressman:
Happy Holidays from all of us at Queen Street Yoga! 2015 was another exciting year for our studio. We celebrated our 10-year anniversary, our first group of yoga teacher trainees graduated and are now teaching all over KW, our teaching and administrative staff grew, and we’ve continued to expand our class schedule and special programming to serve our wonderful community.
This year has not been without challenges, especially related to ION construction around us and renovations in our building. We are very excited that our facade is getting a facelift, we are getting a brand new sign, and Black Arrow Cycles will be our new neighbour on the ground floor in January.
We have our eye on the long term, and we know that these changes will be wonderful for our greater community in the years to come. But in the meantime, we know that traffic and parking around the studio has been a challenge for our students. We, like many other local establishments, have noticed a decrease in business downtown corresponding with the construction, and our operating budgets are tight as a result.
Thank you for continuing to come to classes and support this learning community despite the traffic and construction. At this time, we would like to ask for your help to keep our programming going strong. In order to maintain the drop-in classes you love, and continue to offer courses, community events and workshops, we need your help! Word of mouth referrals and support are always helpful for small, independent businesses, but now they are more important than ever.
This post was written by longtime QSY teacher Kris Lekin. In this post, Kris offers some insight into re-gaining core strength and support after pregnancy.
Just before I got pregnant in 2013, I was more physically fit than I had ever been. I was deepening my yoga practice, running and cycling daily, and even going to the gym (ok, that was only occasionally – I’ve never loved the gym). Then came the pregnancy (dun, dun, duuun)…with twins! My belly grew large and fast, and so did the rest of me. I accepted it as all being part of the process, but I was troubled by the size I would inevitably be and what that would do to my core muscles. I was aware of the condition diastasis recti (separation of the rectus abdominus muscle into left and right halves) and knew that this was inevitable with a twin pregnancy that went to term. It is a condition that occurs from 30-40% of all pregnancies. While pregnant, I studied with Jill Miller (of the Yoga Tune Up method) to help keep my inner baby carriage (a.k.a. the deep core) strong to support pregnancy and birth. However, the more my belly swelled, the less optimistic I was that I would ever be able to plank again, let alone do a handstand.
I carried my babies for 40 full weeks, and they grew and grew. I couldn’t have been more proud that I had “made it” that long, despite the fact my body had completely changed. A couple of months after delivery, I eased back into my yoga practice and tried to run once again. My body felt foreign. It also felt like my insides were falling out and that my middle wasn’t being supportive in my movements. Continue reading “Regaining Core Strength After Twins – A Post by Kris”
It’s Throwback Thursday here at Queen Street Yoga, and today we are throwing back to August of 2014 when Leena wrote about falling in love with the Tensegrity Repair Series. Later this month we are looking forward to a day-long workshop all about the Tensegrity Repair Series with Vancouver-based teacher Trudy Austin. If you’ve ever been curious to learn more about the flowing movements that Emma and Leena sometimes incorporate into their classes, consider joining us forTrudy’s workshop on October 24.
Ever get up from your desk, and feel your joints creak like a rusty old car? Perhaps due to the amount of time we spend sitting in chairs, seats, and couches in North America, the average person I see has core weakness. This instability in the core is often coupled with tightness and lack of mobility in the hip joints and shoulder joints (and by core, I’m not solely referring to the abdominal muscles, but also muscles of the pelvis, deep core and back muscles.)
The Tensegrity Repair Series is a set of 20 simple exercises designed to restore healthy range of motion to the hips, shoulders, and spine. It helps to build supple strength in the core muscles, and balance and stabilize the pelvis. Overall, I’ve found it to be an amazing antidote to the most common structural and postural imbalance issues that I have personally, and that I see in the general population. It brings that little bit of grease back to our creaky parts.Continue reading “#tbt Throwback Thursday – How I fell in love with the Tensegrity Repair Series”
This post was written by QSY Director, Leena Miller Cressman.
This fall, Queen Street Yoga turns 10! It’s a significant milestone as a small business and as a community. According to this article by Forbes, only about one-third of small business survive 10 or more years. Yippee, beating the odds! In addition to throwing an awesome party to celebrate (more on that later on), I wanted to share some of the story of how Queen Street Yoga came to be what it is today.
Just over ten years ago Meaghan Johnson, a Kitchener native, founded the studio. From the story I remember Meaghan telling me, at the time she wasn’t planning to open a large yoga studio. However, someone tipped her off about this beautiful space with glowing hardwood floors, big windows and high ceilings that used to be a dance studio, but now was sitting vacant. (Before it was a dance studio our space was a club called Pop the Gator- if anyone has photos or stories about that send them our way!) Meaghan arranged to visit the vacant space, and upon walking into the space she exclaimed, “Well shit, now I have to open a yoga studio. This space is too perfect.”
The studio opened with a staff of several other teachers in addition to Meaghan, and always had an emphasis on mindful, alignment-based yoga, with a grassroots community feel. Meaghan once told me that she opened the studio with about $1,000 and slowly invested and grew the business from there. This gradual model of growth, alongside a lot of community support, thoughtful offerings, and caring, dedicated students, teachers and administrators is why we’re still open and still growing today, ten years later.Continue reading “100 Faces- 10 Years of QSY”