Walking Backwards – Widening My View

This blog post was written by studio director Emma, who has been travelling across Canada and in the United States for the last few months on a sabbatical from teaching. Emma will be back to teaching at the studio in November, and wishes to share this update about her trip with the QSY community. This post relates to the recent work Queen Street Yoga has been doing on Indigenous land acknowledgement and educating ourselves about the cultural genocide of First Nations populations in Canada.

At a contact dance workshop this summer, I participated in an exercise that included walking backwards along a forest path. The exercise encouraged us to sense the space behind us, which is a useful awareness to cultivate in dance. I walked backwards for over an hour along a winding forest path, over jagged rocks, bumpy tree roots and clumps of moss. The sensation was fascinating. I realized that I have had a habit of looking down at the ground as I walk, in order not to trip. Facing away from where I was walking to required me to slow down a great deal and sense carefully with my feet the texture and topography of the ground. Looking down was no longer a helpful strategy. My gaze was up and my awareness surrounded me like a sphere. I was no longer focused on moving ahead, on getting somewhere; I was filled up with the view of the landscape I was moving through, and an energetic sense of the landscape I was backing into.

One of the most noticeable differences in the experience of walking backwards is that your view is constantly widening.  Rather than things disappearing from your peripheral vision (which is what happens when you move forwards) the landscape appears slowly at your sides and seems to bloom out and emerge from the edges of your vision. What you see seems to grow in context and size, rather than shrink in anticipation and pursuit of your destination. Walking backwards, one is not preoccupied with the destination, rather, with having the fullest sense of the landscape, and of treading carefully on the ground. Continue reading

A Summer Sequence for Strong Shoulders- *FREE* Printable Download

killarneyFor me, a summer in Ontario isn’t complete without at least four or five days of back-country canoe camping in Killarney Provincial Park. Killarney is about five hours north of Kitchener-Waterloo on the north side of the Georgian Bay. It boasts some of the most beautiful lakes, scenic mountains and dramatic rock faces that I’ve had the pleasure of canoeing and hiking along. killarney canoes

If you’ve never been canoeing, let me teach you a new vocabulary word: Portage (noun or verb). I’m glad Canadians are at least bilingual enough that you can pronounce it the more elegant way en francais up here. Honestly, Americans butcher this word. Pronunciation aside, when you hear portage think carrying a huge pack on your back and a canoe on your shoulders for anywhere between a few dozen meters to a kilometer or more! Given that I’m only 5’3” and the canoe is 17’ and about 50lbs, a little extra prep for my shoulders and upper body before heading on a trip is super helpful. Continue reading

Queen Street Yoga: My First Yoga Love

Long time QSY student Carina Gaspar recently moved to Toronto, and she wrote this humorous post for her own blog about “breaking up” with Queen Street Yoga. We’ve since decided with her that we don’t have to break-up, but she can be in a long distance relationship with the studio. We look forward to seeing her on weekends when she’s back visiting from Toronto!

QSY is the kind of place that stays with you long after you go home. Where you feel pulled to go back, as opposed to having to push yourself to go in the first place. Where you feel a little homesick when you’re away for too long. And it’s because it has heart. And kickass teachers. And big windows, comfy blankets, a studio with character and cuteness, an approach that’s holistic and open and fluid. And, at the moment, a pretty rad sticker collection.

Continue reading