Big News!

 

Dear QSY Community,

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you. Thanks for all the ways you have supported us over the course of the pandemic: from sending encouraging words, to joining our virtual memberships, to coming to outdoor yoga this summer, to supporting us with your holiday shopping, you have shown up for us. While we aren’t out of the storm yet, it is truly thanks to you that this email is not a closure announcement. 

Instead, I want to share a very big decision we’ve made, one that affirms our deep commitment to continuing the work we’re doing:

We will be moving to a new location! 

Our current space on Queen Street has been home to our community since the beginning, in 2005. Because of all that history, this is not a decision we made lightly. I know this space carries deep meaning for so many of you, just as it does for me. But, we aren’t in a position to stay at 44 Queen and stay financially viable for the foreseeable future. 

I want to acknowledge that this year has already brought so many challenging transitions, so if another change feels hard for you too, I get it. But over the course of this pandemic, it became crystal clear to me that the magic of QSY isn’t the space. It’s the people who come to move, breathe, rest and laugh together that makes it so special. 

We can create that magic together wherever we go.

We are working our butts off to make our new dream location a reality. Running the studio and teaching is not a side gig. The studio provides full-time employment to three of us, and part-time work for a dozen other teachers. With the help of government subsidies and your support, we’ve been able to continue our work, and this has meant the world to us. 

We can’t give you all the details yet, but in the meantime, here’s what you can count on: 

  • We will be in Downtown Kitchener, and continue in-person classes
  • All of our amazing teachers and staff will come with us
  • We’ll stay online too, offering virtual classes, courses, and retreats
  • We’ll still offer high-caliber training for yoga teachers
  • We’ll have full continuity of our virtual offerings, and hopefully only a short pause of in-person classes while we move
  • Later this winter, we will share details of our moving plans and host an event to say farewell and honour our time at 44 Queen 

With your continued support, and alongside this plan to move locations, I’m hopeful that our yoga community will continue to be here long after this pandemic is a distant memory. Wishing you and yours a safe and cozy holiday season!

In Community, 

Leena Miller Cressman, QSY Director 

Big Body Yoga: Reflections on The “Weight” of Words

This blog post is written by Carol Kennedy, who is joining our staff to teach Yoga for Round Bodies for the Fall 2020 season.

Big, Body, and Yoga are three words that exist as distinct spaces for judgment. A whole gamut of adjectives are ascribed to Yoga, much like our bodies, and the construct of being “big.” This blog is a challenging one to write for me, as these three words, especially in conjunction with one another, conjure up so many emotions and images. 

Yoga has been described as exercise, movement, cult, appropriation, commodity, ritual, sacred, Eastern, and Western, just to name a few – and these descriptions are quite often shifting and morphing at the same time. Yet these descriptions of Yoga, and debates surrounding its definition remain external to us as individuals, allowing space for objectivity. This threshold of objectivity is crossed when the word “body” is connected to Yoga. Our bodies move us; hold our thoughts, our emotions. They nurture us, and can do the most miraculous of things, and they are what contain ‘us’ as embodied whole beings. 

The body is what makes Yoga subjective, and this seems almost redundant when put together. I mean, we all have bodies, and each of us have a dynamic relationship with it, and through it. So, what is Yoga without the embodied human? Is Yoga a tool for the body? Or is the body a tool for Yoga?  Continue reading

Help! I’m nervous to do a YTT because I worry it might be too physically demanding

Leslie is a lead teacher at Queen Street Yoga, and this year she will be acting as an assistant for our 200-hour Teacher Training Program starting in October 2019. Leslie has lots to say about the program, as she completed it in 2016. Something Leslie is passionate about is encouraging people to both meet their bodies where they are at, and be curious about their bodies’ capacities for change.

At our first YTT info session back in April, someone asked how much physical practice we’d be doing over the training weekends, and whether it would be advanced or athletic practice. On a separate occasion, another regular student who is considering our program asked if we’d get into more complex poses, like eight angle pose during the training.

Some folks might feel a little intimidated by the prospect of intense group practice being a part of the teacher training process. Others are chomping at the bit to learn how to do more complex, demanding shapes. Looking at the list of applicants we’ve already received, I know some of them love to hulk out and feel the burn – they’re the type to sweat it out in Strength & Flow. At the same time, we’ve got other participants who are more into Yoga for Dynamic Aging, and are passionate about the benefits of restorative yoga.

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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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Re-Post: 3 Reasons our Restorative Immersion is for you

This post was originally published on our blog in January 2017.

My name is Emma and I am a Restorative yoga evangelist. 🙂

In our busy world, Restorative yoga is an effective way to learn how to slow down and deeply rest. Restorative yoga can help you to reduce stress and support your body’s innate responses toward balance and health. As a very gentle form of yoga, Restorative yoga integrates resting postures, breath techniques, and meditative relaxation. I want to share with you three reasons why our upcoming Restorative Yoga Immersion is for you.

After this immersion you will be able to:

CUSTOMIZE a restorative yoga sequence to meet your specific needs

MEDITATE in a restorative pose

GIFT this practice to friends and family

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CUSTOMIZELearn to design a sequence that meets your specific (and changing) needs

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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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Getting Better with Age

I need to tell you about Arlene and Julie.

Arlene started coming to my classes ten years ago, when I was teaching out of a small rented space in Waterloo. One day after class she came up to me and said something I have never forgotten. With a big smile on her face she exclaimed, “I think this yoga is actually making a difference! Yesterday I was playing with my grandkids on the floor, and I realized that for the first time in years, I was actually comfortable sitting on the floor with them!”

I think back to that story often. It has stayed with me and became my inspiration for learning how to make yoga more accessible and useful for people in their golden years. Arlene, who was now completely sold on yoga, rallied a crew of friends to help me get a Basics class going at a time that worked well for everyone. I have been teaching that same group of students now every Wednesday morning for the past 8 years. It’s been fun and fulfilling to learn alongside those folks, many of whom are 60-75 now. One of my students, in fact, just turned 85! These past 8 years of teaching this demographic of “goldeners” and the continued studies I’ve been doing in strength and functional movement, led me to develop courses and special content for people 50+, specifically my Yoga for Dynamic Aging course that launched last spring.

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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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Introducing new offerings July-Aug 2018

Last week I experienced a huge win while teaching my Wednesday night Intro to Yoga class.

I have been teaching Intro to Yoga for 6 years. I have re-written the curriculum three times, trained numerous teachers to share it, and this spring it is undergoing it is fourth reincarnation.

The Intro includes all of the basic poses of yoga: downward dog, plank, lunges, Warrior poses, bridge, etc. Over the years I have learned how to integrate props into the class, making the poses more doable for more people. I have learned how to sequence the classes in a step-by-step way, introducing the poses and transitions slowly over time.

But something was still missing.

People who found certain poses challenging, for example a lunge, would come up into the lunge and wobble side to side. Their balance might improve a bit from week to week as they tried it again and again, but I noticed it would usually take the wobbliest students several months before they started to seem steadier in their lunge pose.

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