This post is by one of our core teachers, Leslie.
If it weren’t for yoga, I would never have re-learned to enjoy my body.
As a child and teen, I was heavily involved in physical activity, but in my post-secondary years I succumbed to a sedentary lifestyle. The workload of university was overwhelming, but my total lack of movement or exercise occured, in large part, because of a string of traumas. These events left me feeling disconnected from my body, and more often than not, fearful and self-loathing.
Even though I knew it would help me, I resisted all physical activity. Sports were no longer any fun, and going the gym to “work out” seemed not only boring, but overly aspirational. Moving my body felt difficult, pointless, and unpleasant. Any movement or exertion which made me aware of my body, brought with it reminders of my trauma, and the pain that still lived within me.
In my final year of university, a friend convinced me to try a yoga class in the campus athletic centre. I was seduced by the mystery around yoga, and since it was the adventurous thing to do, I decided to join her. I still remember how the instructor led us through a soft and slow-paced class with careful instruction and plenty of room to be a beginner. I’ll admit it: I was hooked.
The twelve years between that first yoga class and today have been a bumpy road away from bodily dissociation, deep discomfort moving, and low physical competence and confidence. The road became even clearer when I found Queen Street Yoga seven years ago.
The teaching and community here gave me the space and the gentle nudges I needed to begin getting to know what it felt like to move with curiosity and compassion. Alongside some professional therapy, regular classes at QSY helped me to once again tolerate and even enjoy identifying with what had for so many years been an unbearable burden. It was here that I learned to feel at home in my body again.
There have been (and still are) instances of fear, confusion and anger, but those are balanced out with safety, comfort and joy. It all started with yoga, but by now, I’ve had the pleasure of exploring cycling, hiking, ballet, acroyoga, slacklining, and rock-climbing. I can genuinely say that I really like moving. Learning to be in a loving relationship with my own body is one of the most powerful acts of self care I have ever initiated.
Much has been written about the power of a yoga practice to heal. The work of Bessel Van Der Kolk, especially The Body Keeps the Score, is a great place to start if you want to learn more. At QSY, we aim to make our offerings a place to reclaim agency and confidence. We believe in offering folks lots of choice about how to move their bodies in class, respecting the power of bodily autonomy and the ability to clearly say no to hands-on adjustments with consent cards. We invite students to be curious about how poses and movements feel from the inside, rather than how they look from the outside.
Trauma can be big or small, mundane or exceptional. I’m learning about its nearly universal presence in our lives for my studies to begin offering TRE, another body-based modality for managing tension, stress and trauma. Whether you identify as having experienced trauma, see yourself as sedentary and disconnected, or just want to improve your awareness and responsiveness to your own body, come by the studio and get into a yoga practice that’s designed to support a self-care journey. Our drop-in schedule is filled with beginner-friendly options, and we offer courses geared specifically towards self-care, anxiety and depression, and yes, trauma.
I will carry gratitude towards my teachers, this place, and Yoga as a whole for the rest of my life because it’s given me the gifts of presence and peace with myself. The journey is never over, and I’ll never be done, but I’ve come a long way.
We would all be delighted for you to share your self-care journey with us, and be part of a community that is aimed at nurturing and healing our bodies, minds and hearts.