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.
I asked people to gather together near my mat, and I acknowledged that we all live and work on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishnaabe and Haudenosaunee peoples. And that a land acknowledgement is only the first step in growing awareness and beginning to redress the harm that has been done and continues to be done to the land and the First Nations people.
I was nervous. I am always nervous to do a land acknowledgement.
I think I am nervous for several reasons. One is that I am afraid people might be angry that I am bringing a political issue into a space where they might not have been expecting it. Another is that I am afraid I will somehow do it wrong, say it in a way that somehow shows my ignorance about the issues. Should I say First Nations or First Peoples? Should I say Indigenous or something else?
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”
Practicing and teaching yoga outside is a big highlight of my summer. I love to take my own practice to the park as soon as it gets warm, either by myself or with friends. I love how soft and forgiving the grass is when playing around with new things like arm balances or handstands. I love feeling the breeze on my skin and looking up at the tree tops while I’m in a pose. To me yoga is about relationship and connection, and in practicing yoga outside the feeling of connection to the environment and the world is more palpable and sweetly profound. I’ve been teaching yoga outside for the past few years (partnering with theCity of Kitchener for Wednesday classes, and sharingQueen Street Yoga love on Sundays) and I love sharing the practice of awareness, breath and movement with new people. Continue reading “Teaching Yoga in Public Spaces: The Power of an Outdoor Practice”
The Gift of Community – Thursday December 13, 2012
When I think about community, I think about my street, my neighbourhood and my network. But I also think about community in the biggest sense and how I’m probably connected to people I don’t know, in ways I can’t even fathom.Continue reading “Reblog: The Gift of Community”