T'aanu Llnagay, Historical Haida Village Site, Haida Gwaii, August 2016

Walking Backwards – Widening My View

This blog post was written by studio director Emma, who has been travelling across Canada and in the United States for the last few months on a sabbatical from teaching. Emma will be back to teaching at the studio in November, and wishes to share this update about her trip with the QSY community. This post relates to the recent work Queen Street Yoga has been doing on Indigenous land acknowledgement and educating ourselves about the cultural genocide of First Nations populations in Canada.

At a contact dance workshop this summer, I participated in an exercise that included walking backwards along a forest path. The exercise encouraged us to sense the space behind us, which is a useful awareness to cultivate in dance. I walked backwards for over an hour along a winding forest path, over jagged rocks, bumpy tree roots and clumps of moss. The sensation was fascinating. I realized that I have had a habit of looking down at the ground as I walk, in order not to trip. Facing away from where I was walking to required me to slow down a great deal and sense carefully with my feet the texture and topography of the ground. Looking down was no longer a helpful strategy. My gaze was up and my awareness surrounded me like a sphere. I was no longer focused on moving ahead, on getting somewhere; I was filled up with the view of the landscape I was moving through, and an energetic sense of the landscape I was backing into.

One of the most noticeable differences in the experience of walking backwards is that your view is constantly widening.  Rather than things disappearing from your peripheral vision (which is what happens when you move forwards) the landscape appears slowly at your sides and seems to bloom out and emerge from the edges of your vision. What you see seems to grow in context and size, rather than shrink in anticipation and pursuit of your destination. Walking backwards, one is not preoccupied with the destination, rather, with having the fullest sense of the landscape, and of treading carefully on the ground. Continue reading


Yoga Tips from QSY: Begging Dog for the Wrists


This fun video features Jesse Enright, who teaches therapeutic vinyasa yoga in Toronto and is a member of the QSY Teacher Training Faculty.



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.

_IRW1125 copy

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.🙂


Hips Don’t Lie: Yoga Tune up for the Hips

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.

IMG_0606Do 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

Why I’ll Never Do the Splits – And That’s OK.

This post was written by Leslie Stockman. Leslie is a graduate of QSY’s 2015 Yoga Teacher Training, and she’s also a supply teacher with the WRDSB. She loves walking in her minimal shoes, is an avid rock climber, and has recently fallen madly in slacklining. In addition to admiring her beautiful chalkboard art around QSY, you can find Leslie on the QSY course schedule this fall teaching Intro to Yoga Courses.

We all inquire into Yoga,” states the first line of Matthew Remski’s threads of yoga, his self-described remix of the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali, an ancient and foundational Yoga philosophy text. A more classical translation by Chip Harntranft reads, “Now, the teachings of Yoga.”

Seems important right? If we’re about to go into a huge spiel about Yoga, you better open with a zinger. Either one works, I’m ready to listen up in both cases. When I talk to myself about my practice, I flip Remski’s remix to read, “Yoga calls to us all.” But that immediately leads me to the follow up: why does it do so? Sometimes I ask my students, “What brings you to yoga today?” Even the intake waivers at Queen Street Yoga ask new students which of following is their main reason for practicing: increase flexibility/strength, stress/anxiety/depression relief community/family, pre-natal or post-natal support, spirituality, compliment another physical regimen, or other.

During our sessions with Remski, he challenged us yoga teacher-trainees to consider two major drives that underlie each of our personal practices and modern postural yoga (MPY) as a whole: the transcendental drive (to go beyond the body to the greater realm of the spirit) and therapeutic drive (to nurture the body). Check out Remski’s WAWADIA project update post for a background summary. And if Yoga calls to me, is it so I can transcend my body, or so I can nurture it? Continue reading

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


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


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