Where Everybody Knows Your Name

The first thing I learned in my yoga teacher training surprised me.

I assumed we would start with poses, or even yoga philosophy. But the very first thing we were taught was the importance of learning our students’ names.

My teacher went over strategies for remembering students’ names, and said, “Even if you have to ask their name every class, make the effort. It shows that you care, that you see them, that they are a real person to you.

Now that I’m in my tenth year of teaching, I cannot say how invaluable that first lesson has become. It is something I think about in every class that I teach. I love saying hello to people and voicing their name. I can tell that some people are surprised that I have made the effort to remember them, and by their smiles, I can tell that they appreciate it.

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Find Your Yoga Buddy

There are so many different kinds of yoga students.

There are the quiet ones who want to meditate on their mat before and after class. There are the chatty ones who talk everyone’s ear off at the water dispenser. There are the earnest ones who listen with rapt attention during class, and the jokers who heckle the teacher in good fun.

I have a tender spot in my heart for all my students, but I have a special spot reserved for yoga buddies, pairs of friends who come to class together. Usually when people come in pairs I get to know them a bit more. They tell me about how yoga is a part of their friendship. They come to class more regularly because they have a friend date and they don’t want to miss it! Yoga buddies often make the whole feeling of the class more like a hangout – they are more likely to crack jokes to each other in class, which makes everyone laugh. It’s a good scene.

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Love your Neighbour! Shop DTK this Holiday Season

You know that saying, “When you buy from a small business, an actual person does a happy dance?” It’s not an urban legend – it’s real, and it comes from the joy of sharing the creations of your heart and hands. The longer we live and work in the Downtown Kitchener community, the more we fall in love with the little shops and services that make DTK a unique place. Our small business neighbours are our friends, our partners and the truth is, they’re actually really awesome!

There’s another saying about the intersection of consumerism and community: “When you buy from a small business, you’re not helping a CEO buy a third holiday home.” When you buy from small, local businesses in DTK, you’re helping a young adult make rent and chip away at student loans, or helping parents put food on the table for their family. The dollars we earn and spend do have significance. Shopping local and small serves multiple purposes: your loved one gets a treat, a local business owner or maker succeeds, and you connect to your local economy through an individual relationship that you can feel good about.

In this post, we’re highlighting a few of our favourite downtown places for gift-giving inspiration (and maybe a smidge of treating yourself, too). We highly recommend you check them out, and inspire real life happy dances in our downtown core!

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She knows your name. Do you know hers?

I need to tell you about Andy.

It was 2012, and Leena and I had just taken over the studio from the former owner, Meaghan. Andy had been a work trade on the desk for several months. She was the kind of miracle person that would come up with improvements to the current system and implement them herself. When we realized we needed help getting the studio online (can you believe we used to have a paper pass system?) we hired Andy for a few hours a week.

She quickly made herself indispensable.

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Your body and mind are not a problem to be solved

We’ve all done it. Declared a new path forward (“No more facebook, I am going to read a book instead!”) only to find ourselves, hours later, back in the habit. Scrolling, barely present, and regretting it later.

It’s not your fault. There are literally millions of dollars being poured into making smartphone apps, television shows, and sugary/salty foods addictive. It’s big business. Manipulating human habits is an enormous business.

We are a small business. We want to make space for people to connect with their bodies, examine the habits of their mind and movement, and learn to care for themselves in our overly busy world.

It’s hard to compete with big business. And we don’t really want to. We are not interested in manipulating people into yoga and meditation. We refuse to do it. Many marketing strategies suggesting that to grow your business, you need to create a problem for people, and tell them how you are going to solve it. (We recently saw a website for meditation that wanted you to click on “10 ways you are messing up your mindfulness practice”. Yuck.)

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Let’s Talk Shop: Collaborative Learning for Yoga Teachers

The squeaky wheel gets the grease, right? Ever since my 200 hour YTT ended, I’ve been squeaking away about wanting another opportunity to learn in relationship with others, in community.

I remember how awesome it was to move, observe and discuss the intricacies of anatomy, philosophy and politics with a diverse group of people, and I miss that. I’ve kept on learning on my own, and while self inquiry and practice is important, it’s just not the same thing, watching videos on my laptop and farting around on my mat at home.

Good news: with the announcement of the Queen Street Yoga Teacher’s Immersion, Leena and Emma have just greased up this squeaky wheel big time, and now I’m swirling like a merry-go-round! I know what it’s like to learn at QSY because I did my initial 200-hour training there, and what I experienced was excellent pedagogy, diverse and forward-looking perspectives, and outside experts brought in with intentionality and purpose. Beyond that, Leena and Emma are masterful at holding space, nurturing community and guiding both individual and group learning with consistent and clear support and care. The way they lead trainings with both wisdom and curiosity, experience and reflection is inspiring and makes for a true learning community.

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Why we’re jealous of yoga teachers in KW

Emma from Queen Street Yoga here. And if you are a yoga teacher in KW, I’m jealous of you.  😉

When I did my teacher training, I had to travel. Not to glamourous locations like Costa Rica or India, but to small studios in freezing Winnipeg and land-locked Cincinnati. I travelled because I am picky – I knew who I wanted to study with, and I was willing to go the distance. I slept on couches, spent hours on Greyhound buses. One time I even got turned away from the US border (that is a story for another day). It was exciting to see new places and learn new things, but it was also a slog.

I experienced wonderful bonds and community with the people in my trainings (200hr and beyond), but it was hard to sustain the excitement and conversation once I returned homeLeena was the only other yoga teacher in KW that was studying the same type of yoga as me. So for a long time, it was just her and I, talking about teaching and practicing together.

Leena and I took over the leadership of Queen Street Yoga in 2012 and since then, have created the kind of yoga teacher trainings that we wish we could have taken. Leena also travelled a lot for training, and while it was cool for her to study with Ram Dass in Maui (just a little name-dropping for ya), it lacked the continuity and growth that comes with ongoing community. Our teacher trainings in the last few years have aimed to connect individuals to a lively and regular sense of community – that “thing” that most of us are seeking in our lives. With the practice of yoga and mindfulness at the centre, our trainings have evolved to become transformative communities.

Here’s where my jealousy comes in. This year, Leena and I have curated a Continuing Education program for yoga and movement teachers with some of the top teachers in Canada. All of them are leaders in their fields, and they are doing wonderful things for the world of movement education.

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