A Message from Leena & Emma
A few weeks ago we received the following email from a student named Melissa who has become a regular at QSY since January. Her email really struck a chord with us. Melissa shared what a difference the atmosphere at the studio has made to her yoga practice, how it has helped her shift her relationship to pain, to internal competitiveness, to what she needs to cultivate a happy life. It was so wonderful to hear how the attitude of kindness that we cultivate at Queen Street Yoga resonated with her, and allowed her to be kinder to herself.
It is beyond wonderful when students share with us what a difference yoga has made in their lives. Because often as teachers, we don’t know! Folks might say “thanks, that was great!” after class, but since yoga is really an internal conversation that each person has with themselves, we as teachers don’t often know what the impact is.
Writing realizations down, or verbalizing them can be powerful. This is why we are working harder to share more of our story in our newsletter and our blog. Just like Melissa showed us who she is and what she’s learning from yoga, we want to show you who we are, get more of a window into why we teach yoga, what it means to us.
For now, we want to share Melissa’s words with you. This is why we teach yoga: because time and time again we have seen how it opens people up to their relationship with themselves, brings them into conscious conversation with their lives, their bodies and the world.
“I wanted to send you an email thanking you for the beautiful yoga community you have created with Queen Street Yoga. And I wanted to say that you particularly knocked it out of the park this week!
On Wednesday, in the Basics class, Leena started the class by sharing some information she had learned about pain and changing your relationship with it. This hit home for me and has been something I’ve been thinking about a lot over the past year. When I came to Queen Street, my body was in pretty rough shape (when Emma talked about forward bends being not as necessary as other asanas for functional movement, I thought about the months that I couldn’t put on my own shoes or socks because I had zero flexion in my low back). I was in serious pain and had been working with a physio, osteo, and chiropractor. All three said they had done as much as they could do and I needed further testing. So I waited months for an MRI. In the meantime, I was starting to feel a little bit better and wondered whether I could modify yoga enough to benefit from it again.
Yoga has always been a big part of my life but doing it with pain has taught me so many meaningful lessons over these past months. I have loved that each of your teachers have made space for me to skip folding forward, to take longer to get into a pose, and to help me modify when I get stuck. You’ve created an environment where there is no competition between students, which made me aware of how often I was competing with myself. The ironic things is I am a therapist and one who has worked with people with chronic pain. This was a wake up call for me to walk my talk. I know how much mindset plays into perpetuating pain. So I started to be kind to myself. In class when we would be moving into sun salutations and my body wasn’t flowing fluidly, instead of focusing on how restricted my range of motion had become I focused on gratitude for being able to get to my mat that day. I practiced self compassion in the moments that were hardest for me in class. And when I would glance up at who ever happened to be teaching, I was often met with a kind smile. Those moments meant a lot.
I am in a very fortunate chapter of my life right now. I am moving from the world of therapy into the world of leadership coaching, but what it has meant is that as I help launch this new business, I have been able to reflect on what the “right” ingredients are for a happy life for me. And yoga- especially at Queen Street- is at the top of the list! (It’s actually built into my work calendar.) I have noticed significant changes in my functional movement over the past few months (balancing a block on my foot was impossible weeks ago because I couldn’t round my back enough to even set it on!) but I don’t think this would have been possible in a different studio (and trust me, I’ve sampled many!) So thank you. Thank you for loving what you do. Thank you for sharing your joy with your students. Thank you for holding an inclusive space. And thank you for the everything you bring to your classes.”
Do you have an experience of yoga you’d like to put into words? The Arab-American poet Naomi Shihab-Nye says “Very rarely do you hear anyone say they write things down and feel worse. It’s an act that helps you, preserves you, energizes you in the very doing of it.” If you’ve got a few minutes, grab a piece of paper and write a few sentences down about your experience of yoga or meditation. Some questions you could ask yourself: What feels possible now that didn’t feel possible before yoga/meditation? What do you enjoy about yoga? In what ways do you feel different after a yoga/meditation class?
If you feel inspired to share your words with us, we’d love to hear them.
Leena & Emma
Leena Miller Cressman is the director of Queen Street Yoga. Right now she’s in love with practicing the Tensegrity Repair Series, handstands and doing gentle twists over her bolster. You’ll also find her cruising around on her rusty but trusty bike, and tending to her community garden plot full of arugula, kale, and basil.
Emma Dines is the creative director of Queen Street Yoga. She loves writing, visiting thrift stores and going for walks in the woods. She also loves cartwheeling, sewing and making her own kimchi.