YTT circle

Reflections on Yoga, Social Justice and Inclusion

This guest post is by Christine Witmer Lang, a long-time yoga and meditation practitioner, a member of QSY’s 2015-2016 Yoga Teacher Training program.

Reflections on Yoga, Social Justice, and Inclusion

Before I began Yoga Teacher Training, I admit I spent very little time thinking about the broader social and cultural aspects of yoga. Like many things that come into our lives, I came to yoga aware only of what this practice could do for me. I enjoyed the challenge of the physical movement through poses, the integration of breath, and the continual invitation to be aware of how my body felt as it moved through a sequence.  Yoga gave me a sense of embodiment and calm, which over time permeated into other parts of my life.  Through yoga, I believed I had found a home.  Yoga made my life better, my body stronger, and my mind clearer.  It felt as though yoga had been made for my body and temperament – as if yoga had been made for me.

Through discussion on yoga teacher training weekends, through readings, videos, and workshops, I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that yoga has a history and cultural complexity that extends far beyond our North American understanding of its practice. The very practice through which I learned embodiment has been cut off from its roots, and has suffered a disembodiment of its own. Continue reading

Video

Yoga Tips from QSY: Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose Variations

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.

 

Pro Tips: Continue reading

Kombucha

This post comes from Leslie Stokman. Leslie is QSY’s resident chalk-board artist extraordinaire, a recent graduate of our yoga teacher training program, and a SCOBY-growing Kombucha aficionado!  

What’s delicious, good for you, fun to make, and kind of like having a pet? KOMBUCHA! Read on to find out what it is, how to make it, and how you can get your hands on your very own SCOBY.

Kombucha is something of a probiotic tonic, or just a healthy replacement for pop, depending on your way of looking at it. You can buy a delicious bottle at a health food store for $4-5, or you can easily make it yourself! Made with basic ingredients like tea, sugar, and water, it can be a refreshing beverage for hot summer days and a treat you can feel good about. The other “ingredient” (though I like to think of it as a productive pet) is the SCOBY – a Symbiotic Culture/Colony of Bacteria and Yeast (and yep, it’s alive). Also called “the mother,” or a kombucha “mushroom,” SCOBYs are a firm gelatinous disc that do the hard work of fermenting the sweetened tea.

the whiter the newer, but all SCOBYs are equally effective

the whiter the newer, but all SCOBYs are equally effective

 

If you want to take a crack at making your own, here’s what I do: Continue reading

DON’T PANIC! A Hitchhiker’s Guide to Asana

This guest-post was written by a member of our Yoga Teacher Training program, Julie Raineault.

don't panic

I am sure you can relate to the great feeling you get when someone suggests you sigh in class and the room shares this big beautiful ahhhh moment. Maybe not everyone joins the first time but by that second or third time more people join and it really sounds positively delightful. But why is it okay to sigh in the studio but when you are out in the world everyone seems to think there is something wrong.

heart of goldWell these are questions I sought to answer, not just because I love how a room full of sighs reminds me of The Heart of Gold’s (the ship from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy) oh so lovely sighing doors, but because my body sighs…A LOT. Continue reading

These Schools Are Our Holocaust: Bearing Witness to the Mohawk Residential School

On Saturday, June 4, a group of community members from Queen Street Yoga visited the Woodland Cultural Centre in Brantford and were given a tour of the Mohawk Residential School. It was our intention to bear witness to the stories of the place, acknowledge the history of the land, and learn more about the brutal history of Canada’s treatment of Indigenous/First Nations/Native/Original Peoples. This post is a reflection about the experience written by QSY Co-Director, Emma Dines.

“This place feels like a raw wound. Nothing has even begun to heal here.”

We sat on the grass outside the Mohawk Residential school on a beautifully warm Saturday in June. Amanda is one of the meditation teachers at Queen Street Yoga, and in our closing circle she compared her visit to this school to her visit to Dachau. A few years ago on a trip to Germany, she and her husband went to witness the gas chambers, barracks, and slave yards of the infamous concentration camp. She said that she felt the same horror and rawness walking through the hallways of the residential school here. Amanda grew up near Galt and was ten years old when the Mohawk Residential School was finally closed in 1970. “I never knew this place was here,” she said. “I didn’t know it existed.”

This school is our Dachau. This school is our concentration camp. Continue reading

108 Sirsasana- 2 chairs

Yoga Tips from QSY- Headless Headstand

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

Emma’s Teaching Break

2014-09-07_1410113541This summer I am taking a four-month break from teaching, and I’ll be getting on a train and going out to the west coast of Canada. I’m intending to spend some time on the beautiful island of Haida Gwaii, and also visit some friends in Alberta, B.C. and Oregon.

I am excited to take a break from teaching, as there are many things that I am currently learning and churning about human movement, and I want to give myself some time to digest and practice outside of the space of teaching. Continue reading