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.
Arlene started coming to my classes ten years ago, when I was teaching out of a small rented space in Waterloo. One day after class she came up to me and said something I have never forgotten. With a big smile on her face she exclaimed, “I think this yoga is actually making a difference! Yesterday I was playing with my grandkids on the floor, and I realized that for the first time in years, I was actuallycomfortable sitting on the floor with them!”
I think back to that story often. It has stayed with me and became my inspiration for learning how to make yoga more accessible and useful for people in their golden years. Arlene, who was now completely sold on yoga, rallied a crew of friends to help me get a Basics class going at a time that worked well for everyone. I have been teaching that same group of students now every Wednesday morning for the past 8 years. It’s been fun and fulfilling to learn alongside those folks, many of whom are 60-75 now. One of my students, in fact, just turned 85! These past 8 years of teaching this demographic of “goldeners” and the continued studies I’ve been doing in strength and functional movement, led me to develop courses and special content for people 50+, specifically myYoga for Dynamic Aging course that launched last spring.
Hold on a second! I can hear you saying. I wear practical, supportive footwear. I don’t even wear high heels! It is *not* my shoes.
I know. Your shoes may seem like a smart choice. But…it’s probably still your shoes.
Alright, the shoe thing is a bit of an oversimplification. Your feet probably hurt for a number of reasons. One is that our culture has created a flattened world so that our ankles, calves and feet are conditioned to walking only on artificially flat and hard terrain. This has consequences for our feet and our whole bodies, as our feet are deprived of the different kinds of movement and conditioning they would get if they had to walk on different textured and varied ground. And don’t even get me started on how much we sit. So partially your feet hurt because they don’t move enough, in enough different ways.
This thoughtful post was written by Natalie Barrales-Hall, a member of our 2015-2016 Yoga Teacher Training (YTT). Natalie has worked as a community and youth worker, and in February she began teachingQueer & Trans Yoga at Queen Street Yoga. Natalie strives to facilitate safer spaces for students who may not see themselves represented in mainstream yoga spaces or those who may be questioning whether yoga is really for them. Her approach is gentle and permissive, and she invites students to consider a practice of gratitude and self-compassion.
Whether emotional, physical or traumatic, I’ve been thinking a lot about pain. Maybe that is because of the injuries and losses I experienced during the course of the training program (don’t worry, it wasn’t the yoga asanas!), or maybe it’s informed by my work and holding space for people who are hurting, or maybe it’s simply because pain is an inevitable part of being human. Whatever the reason, I’ve been thinking about it and in all my thinking, I’ve started to wonder about the stories we are told and tell ourselves about pain – pain as the cause of loss and disconnection, pain as a source of growth and healing, and what pain says about us and how we show up in the world. In early 2015, I was struggling to understand and manage increasingly severe knee pain which had, for all intents and purposes, come from “nowhere”. In my efforts to alleviate the pain and restore full range of movement, I was encouraged to pursue further testing to rule out any underlying injury. Thus ensued a 4-month long process which concluded with a visit to an orthopedic clinic, where upon reviewing my MRI, I was reminded of one of the first stories I can remember being told about pain: this is your fault. As the weeks passed, I would be offered many more stories by practitioners who suggested that the pain could be the result of a meniscal tear, pelvic alignment and related biomechanical concerns or energy stagnation. Continue reading “Pain and the Other Voices In My Head”
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 blog post was written by Emma, Lead Teacher and Creative Director of Queen Street Yoga.
We chose the holiday wish this year–“Wishing You a Body Positive New Year”–with a lot of care. We hope people will participate in yoga as a way to celebrate and enjoy their bodies, rather than fix or change their appearance.
All the time, but particularly at this time of year (New Year’s Resolution time!) there can be many subtle (and not so subtle) messages from our culture about bodies. About what we should be eating, and not be eating. About what we should be wearing. About how we should look and present ourselves. So much of these messages (coming from advertising, the people around us and even the voices in our own heads!) are focused on appearances, on what our bodies look like, or what they “should” look like. Continue reading “Wishing You a Body Positive New Year!”
In yoga asana practice there are many positions where we weight bear with the wrists in extension. Think of table pose, downward dog, plank or handstands. In all those positions the wrist joint is in what we call extension. Our wrists are also often stiff and weak from having our wrists stuck in one position for long time when using keyboards, or from other repetitive movements. If we don’t work to re-strengthen and stretch the wrists in different positions, this overuse can lead to pain or even longer-term issues like carpal tunnel syndrome.
This fun Begging Dog exercise is a great way to increase range of motion and strengthen your wrists. We recommend doing repetitions of the exercise regularly throughout your day, especially when you’re working at a computer. Sound effects are optional, but encouraged. 🙂
This post was written by QSY director,Leena Miller Cressman. She was rolling out her feet on Yoga Tune Up self-massage balls as she wrote this post! And she’s found rolling especially helpful to keep her hips and lower back comfortable during her pregnancy.
Do you remember what it felt like to do you first hip stretch in a yoga class? For many of us, the hips are an area of hidden chronic tension and tightness. The first time we move the hips in new ranges of motion, like a deep squat or a pigeon pose, we are astonished at how much sensation and even discomfort can be there. While releasing tension in the hips can feel amazing, and can help give relief to low back pain and even knee pain, some folks also find that stretching and releasing the muscles around the hips can also release interesting emotions.
Thanks to Shakira, we all know that the hips don’t lie. When we do stretches, corrective exercises and self-massage for the hips, we reveal poor postural habits and realize the effects of the hours each day many of us spend sitting. We also sometimes reveal old emotions- such as frustration, sadness, or even bubbly joy- that didn’t have a chance to release at some point in our lives. The wonderful thing about releasing these old emotions through the body and our limbic nervous system (what is sometimes called the “reptilian brain”), is that often we can simply notice and let the old feelings go, and often we don’t need to do much else. It’s a wonderful opportunity to practice being present, and letting the emotions move through us, without needing to judge them, even tell a story about them.Continue reading “Hips Don’t Lie: Yoga Tune up for the Hips”
Have you been missing QSY teacher Emma while she’s away on sabbatical? Catch her in this helpful video with several different versions of one of her favorite restorative yoga poses.
“Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose” (Viparita Karani) is a great way to cool down your body, gently stretch your hamstrings, relax your legs, reduce swelling in the feet, and calm your nervous system. In this video, Emma shows a number of variations, with and without props, to help you find a way to make this pose super comfortable for yourself at home or at the studio.
We have been offering Registered Massage Therapy and Registered Acupuncture for several years at QSY in our wellness space. This June we are excited to welcome Laura, a Naturopathic Doctor, to our wellness practitioner team! Here’s a post where Laura introduces herself and her approach.
Hello! My name is Laura Tummon Simmons, and I’m a licensed naturopathic doctor (ND) in Ontario. I’m very blessed to say I’m starting my private practice at Queen Street Yoga (QSY) in Kitchener in June of 2016. I grew up in the Waterloo Region and attended Cameron Heights, just down the street, before completing my degrees in Toronto. Currently, I’m transitioning back to the region, while completing an additional clinical residency program at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. I became an ND because I believe in the importance of the doctor-patient relationship, and I wanted to establish long-term care with my patients.
People often don’t know about naturopathic medicine apart from what they may read in the public sphere, so for my first blog entry here with QSY I thought it might be a good place to start explaining a little bit about naturopathic medicine in general, and what you can expect if you or someone you know chooses to see me.
First of all, what is naturopathic medicine? Naturopathic medicine or naturopathy is a field of health care which involves the treatment of individuals with natural therapies and behavioural changes. These therapies aim to support each patient’s condition uniquely. Depending on your case some of these various treatments may include: acupuncture, botanical medicine, nutrition/dietary changes, supplementation, lifestyle changes, hydrotherapy, and counselling. Ultimately, the goals of treatment are to help identify causes of disease in a whole-person model, provide you with sustainable changes and education to help manage symptoms, and potentially prevent future harm. Naturopathic doctors are a self-regulated profession under the College of Naturopaths of Ontario.Continue reading “Introducing Naturopathic Medicine at QSY”