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Free Your Feet

Here’s a quick video with Leena on a great way to stretch your toes and bring some more mobility to the joints for your feet.

Each foot and ankle has 26 bones, 33 joints, and more than 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments! One quarter of all bones in the human body are in the feet. This means our feet are exquisitely designed for weight-bearing and movement, and they are the foundation for whole body alignment and healthy movement patterns. Unfortunately, due lack of movement and poor footwear choices many folks have lost healthy mobility in their feet and have related pain in the ankles, knees, hips, and back. Continue reading

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Yoga Tips from QSY- Hip Flexor Stretch

hip flexor musclesThe hip flexors (the group of muscles that bring your leg towards your torso) often have decreased range of motion from all the sitting we do. Simultaneously, your lower back, bum and core muscles get weak from sitting and slumping. This quick video with Leena demonstrates an effective way to gently stretch and regain range of motion in the hip flexors, and emphasizes important actions to engage the core and keep your lower back safe and well aligned. Building the muscles in the back (ie your butt and hamstrings) will also often help correct imbalances around the hips and pelvis that cause the hip flexors to feel “tight”. Couple this stretch with a few sets of well-aligned squats to build your glutes, and also lots of walking with arms swinging and a full stride.

Easing the Burden you Shoulder: The Yoga Tune Up® Shoulder Series

By Tara Kachroo, Certified Yoga Tune Up® Instructor

Many of you know that shoulder and neck pain (and the tension headaches that they lead to) can be debilitating. But even if you aren’t suffering pain, the effects of poor posture can be insidious.  

You might be familiar with the TED talk in which the scientist Amy Cuddy discusses the link between physical posture and emotional state.  Her conclusion was that assuming a “power posture” (for example, upright, chest thrusted out or arms raised), can have a significant and positive impact on behavior and state of mind. Even just two minutes can result in better results in a stressful job interview. Click here for a link to this video.

But what if posture is restricted by pain? Or the ability to assume a power posture is limited by range of movement in one’s shoulders?

If one’s body is permanently in a defensive or hunched position from years spent at a desk or writing a PhD Thesis, will this affect the ability to confidently ask for a raise? Or present the results of a Thesis during the Defense? Poor posture does not just wear at your body; it wears at your mind. Continue reading

Going Beyond After Feeling Defeated – An Update from Glen Campbell

Glen Campbell has been regularly practicing at Queen Street Yoga for the past two years and has written some wonderful blog posts for the QSY blog about his yoga journey. In this most recent post, Glen shares more about his personal transformation and how he sees yoga as a major part of his learning and growth. We deeply appreciate hearing from students about what the impact of yoga has been on their lives, and we celebrate Glen’s effort and openness to the insights that have come as a result of engaging with the practices of yoga and meditation. We hope you enjoy reading this. Glen told us ,“It comes straight from my heart”.

Every spring, summer and fall my life is filled with many camping trips to my favorite Provincial Parks located throughout Ontario. One of which is Killarney located at the top end of Georgian Bay. Killarney is truly the jewel of the Ontario Provincial Parks. The turquoise colored lakes and two billion year old rock face spread out far and wide can leave you in awe! I get very excited and can feel my heart getting warm whenever I come back. There are many trails and lakes to explore by hiking, biking or canoe/kayaking. One hike I love to do is called the Crack. It is a bit of a hike and climb getting to the top but the view is amazing! Also there is a 26km canoe/kayaking day trip I have come close by canoe but never completed which includes 3 portages with the longest portage of about 500 meters. This will take you into four different lakes from George Lake into OSA lake and from pictures I had seen is spectacular. I thought that this hike and kayaking trip would no longer be available to me due to my heart issues. I was very disheartened to think that some of the things I love to do had possibly come to an end.

Stepping back to the fall of 2014, that was when I decided to really take control of my life. My doctors had advised me of my condition 8 months earlier, and I started seeing positive results from about six months of yoga practice. I decided to dedicate myself to practicing yoga as much as possible. I would get my mind in a very positive place. I would get rid of the extra weight I was caring. I would eat even healthier by educating myself and keep fine tuning the quality of my food intake. I would exercise at least once a day. I would find more ways to be more active like riding my bike to yoga or picking up my favorite tea. I would taper back my business hours. I would do all I can to reduce and manage stress. I was very motivated to avoid a risky surgery and to keep at a minimum or even reduce the medication prescribed to me. Continue reading

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Yoga Tips from QSY- Low Squat

A low squat is a basic natural movement that’s great for your hips, knees, and ankles. If you watch an average toddler, they squat often with total ease and beautiful alignment. However, due to the amount of chair/couch/car sitting we do, many people have lost the mobility to properly squat. This video with QSY Director Leena shows a simple modification to help you get more comfortable in a low squat, and eventually you can reduce the support over time as you regain mobility. See if you can incorporate this position throughout your day- send a few emails, answer a phone call, chop some veggies, weed your garden, play with a kid or pet… all possible from a squat!

Continue reading

Movement, Massage and Healthy Pregnancy

by Melissa Miller, RMT

Movement is vital to life and is a cornerstone to a happy and healthy pregnancy. Movement prevents joint stiffness, improves circulation and increases energy levels. Staying active also releases positive endorphins which helps with discomfort, especially towards the end of the third trimester. A focused exercise and stretching routine will help build an awareness and confidence in your body and its ability to adapt to the physical and emotional changes during this exciting time.  

Aches and pains are normal as your baby grows and can vary from trimester to trimester. Taking even 15 minutes out of your day for some basic movements can make all the difference throughout pregnancy and into your labour experience.  Here is a basic movement sequence that I have offered to plenty of pregnant clients that is safe for all trimesters and can be modified to your fitness level. Prenatal Home Sequence Continue reading

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Yoga Tips from QSY: Everyday Calf Stretch

This quick Yoga Tips video with Leena discusses why you probably need more calf stretching in your life, and how to do a basic stretch. Add this stretch to your everyday routine to help counteract the effects of sitting, positive heeled shoes and walking on hard flat surfaces. And go find some fun trails to walk on too!

 

Get your calf stretches in without taking precious time out of your day by doing them while you’re working at a standing desk, brushing your teeth or doing dishes. You can use a rolled yoga mat, a halfdome, or even a Yoga Tune-Up ball. Or, if you’re outside on a walk (Woo! Good for you!) use a stone, a curb, a tree stump or fallen branch. Walking uphill is also a great way to stretch your calves and load your feet, ankles and legs in a new way! Continue reading

Roll Out Relief – Keeping Your Feet Supple during Boot Season

Last Sunday I was delighted to try Yoga Tune-Up for the first time at Queen Street Yoga. Guest teacher Tara Kachroo took us through massage techniques from our feet all the way up to our necks, and I left feeling as wiggly as a noodle. I was happy to find that some foot pain I have been experiencing recently had lessened the next day! I am really looking forward to participating in Tara’s upcoming 6-week course at QSY (see below for more info) and learning more ways to incorporate “rolling” (with grippy Yoga Tune-Up balls) into my yoga/movement/strengthening practice.

Here is a short video created by Yoga Tune-Up founder Jill Miller. There are all sorts of great videos on her channel for using the Tune-Up balls for all different areas of the body. I’ve chosen one that outlines a few exercises for the feet. Especially in this snowy weather, when we are wearing heavier boots, it’s important to make sure our feet get enough movement.

Foot Pain and Plantar Fasciitis Stretch Yoga Tune Up YouTube Continue reading

Regaining Core Strength After Twins – A Post by Kris

This post was written by longtime QSY teacher Kris Lekin. In this post, Kris offers some insight into re-gaining core strength and support after pregnancy. 

Kris at 39 weeks, April 2014

Kris at 39 weeks, April 2014

Just before I got pregnant in 2013, I was more physically fit than I had ever been. I was deepening my yoga  practice, running and cycling daily, and even going to the gym (ok, that was only occasionally – I’ve never loved the gym). Then came the pregnancy (dun, dun, duuun)…with twins! My belly grew large and fast, and so did the rest of me. I accepted it as all being part of the process, but I was troubled by the size I would inevitably be and what that would do to my core muscles. I was aware of the condition diastasis recti (separation of the rectus abdominus muscle into left and right halves) and knew that this was inevitable with a twin pregnancy that went to term. It is a condition that occurs from 30-40% of all pregnancies. While pregnant, I studied with Jill Miller (of the Yoga Tune Up method) to help keep my inner baby carriage (a.k.a. the deep core) strong to support pregnancy and birth. However, the more my belly swelled, the less optimistic I was that I would ever be able to plank again, let alone do a handstand.

I carried my babies for 40 full weeks, and they grew and grew. I couldn’t have been more proud that I had “made it” that long, despite the fact my body had completely changed. A couple of months after delivery, I eased back into my yoga practice and tried to run once again. My body felt foreign. It also felt like my insides were falling out and that my middle wasn’t being supportive in my movements. Continue reading

#tbt Throwback Thursday – How I fell in love with the Tensegrity Repair Series

It’s Throwback Thursday here at Queen Street Yoga, and today we are throwing back to August of 2014 when Leena wrote about falling in love with the Tensegrity Repair Series. Later this month we are looking forward to a day-long workshop all about the Tensegrity Repair Series with Vancouver-based teacher Trudy Austin. If you’ve ever been curious to learn more about the flowing movements that Emma and Leena sometimes incorporate into their classes, consider joining us for Trudy’s workshop on October 24.

Grease for your Rusty Parts

By mtneer_man on Flickr

Photo by mtneer_man on Flickr

Ever get up from your desk, and feel your joints creak like a rusty old car? Perhaps due to the amount of time we spend sitting in chairs, seats, and couches in North America, the average person I see has core weakness. This instability in the core is often coupled with tightness and lack of mobility in the hip joints and shoulder joints (and by core, I’m not solely referring to the abdominal muscles, but also muscles of the pelvis, deep core and back muscles.)

The Tensegrity Repair Series is a set of 20 simple exercises designed to restore healthy range of motion to the hips, shoulders, and spine. It helps to build supple strength in the core muscles, and balance and stabilize the pelvis. Overall, I’ve found it to be an amazing antidote to the most common structural and postural imbalance issues that I have personally, and that I see in the general population. It brings that little bit of grease back to our creaky parts. Continue reading