My Yoga Practice: An Unexpected Realization

This guest-post was written by a member of our Yoga Teacher Training program, Nicole. She’s pictured here with her favorite gal, Mags.

nicolephotoMy friends and family were super-supportive of my deep dive into yoga through teacher training, and I’ve been enthusiastic to talk about my experience overall.  Though my physical practice wasn’t consistent directly leading up to the start of the program, few people expressed surprise that I would pursue my yoga teaching certification.  However, for reasons that I will attempt to share, I kept my plan to apply for teacher training on the down-low initially. 

While I’d practiced at QSY many years ago, I was by no means a regular face-about-the-studio in 2014, when I first learned about QSY’s yoga teacher certification program.  That year, I took notice that the course was being offered, gave it some surface-level thought, and then proceeded to dismiss it, rhyming off the many reasons why the timing wasn’t right. 

Fast-forward to Spring of 2015, and I was creeping the QSY website once again, keeping my eyes peeled for teacher training updates for the coming Fall.  When I saw that an info session was being offered later that year, I decided to attend.

The info session was a casual and intimate gathering facilitated by the directors of the studio, Leena and Emma.  We sat on the floor in a circle—more on this format later—introduced ourselves, our individual interests in teacher training, asked questions, and got answers.  Continue reading

Restorative (Justice) Yoga

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

I work as a mediator with a local organization called Community Justice Initiatives (CJI). Our work is rooted in the principles of Restorative Justice (RJ), which looks at unique ways to repair the harm done to people and relationships by engaging the individual who caused the harm, the people affected by the harm, and the community. By creating a safe place for conversation to happen, meaning and understanding can occur between the people involved and the community to restore relationships and allow for healing.

Recently, at the Waterloo Region Restorative Justice Circle, a collective of like minded individuals promoting RJ, we discussed how Waterloo Region is a hub of Restorative Justice. Rooted in strong aboriginal and Mennonite traditions, Restorative Justice principles are ingrained in much of the good work that is done throughout our Region, and elsewhere. There are local organizations we naturally  look towards for leadership around Restorative Justice, CJI and Conrad Grebel as examples, but we wanted to cast a larger net and identify other organizations who approach their work and role in the community from a restorative perspective.

For me, Queen Street Yoga (QSY) exemplifies this restorative approach to community. Take a look at their vision statement. The three sections of QSY’s vision statement are Rooted in Practice, Growing Community, and Cultivating Vibrant Lives.

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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.

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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.

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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

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

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.

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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