Quote

Re-Post: Queer & Trans Yoga: A Reflection on why it is needed and the purpose it provides

Curious about why we are offering a queer and trans yoga class? The following post was written by Jessica, a long time member of the qsy community as a work trade, and also as a consultant around starting the queer and trans class. Here she explains her perspective on why having a gathering place for queer and trans folks in a yoga studio feels valuable and important. This post was originally published on Jessica’s blog,  and has been reposted with her permission. Have a read!

Recently, Queen Street Yoga in Kitchener began offering Queer & Trans Yoga as a part of their weekly yoga class schedule. It is basic level class with a sliding scale monetary donation request, specifically for members of the LGTBQ+ community. The class originally started last year after consultations with local LGTBQ+ community members, but had been put to a pause after the teacher announced her relocation to another city. QSY was passionate and committed to finding a LGTBQ+ identified teacher who would run the class. Last week was the first week of the class resuming, with 14 members of the local LGTBQ+ community joining the class. This started a conversation among my social circle around the question “Why is there a need for Queer & Trans yoga?”. Several individuals questioned me on this, stating that yoga is a practice based on the acceptance and love of all peoples – so why would we need a “special” class for members of the gay community? Isn’t this excluding “straight people” from an inclusive practice? Continue reading

Cultural Appropriation & Yoga

Queen Street Yoga was approached by local newspaper The Community Edition to write something about cultural appropriation and yoga, after this Ottawa Sun news article went viral. There is a lot more to the Ottawa Sun story than was originally reported, and we highly recommend reading our colleague Matthew Remski’s take on it, in which he details how the story was mis-reported, and the way in which popular media mostly shut down and derided the idea of cultural appropriation in yoga. At Queen Street Yoga we think awareness of cultural appropriation in yoga is very important, and in the following piece that Emma wrote for The Community Edition, she shares some thoughts and reflections on how her teaching has changed in the last few years, as she has learned more about the reality of cultural appropriation. Emma wants to acknowledge SAAPYA (South-Asian American Perspectives on Yoga in America) and other colleagues in the yoga community for helping her better understand the issues and impacts of cultural appropriation and yoga.

reaching up yoga class imageIn the last several years, Queen Street Yoga has been looking more deeply into questions of privilege, oppression and cultural (mis)appropriation, and how they show up in the teaching of yoga, and in the experience of yoga studios. We have been examining how yoga was taught to us by mostly white, cis-gendered teachers, and thinking carefully about what it means to be North-American born practitioners of a tradition that has its origins in India. I define cultural (mis)appropriation as instances when members of a dominant culture take elements of a minority culture and use them outside of their original cultural context, often times reducing or commodifying those cultural aspects to “exotic” and meaningless fashion or activities. Cultural appropriation is a complex subject, and people often get defensive when it is mentioned. Recently an article was published in the Ottawa Sun about a yoga class at the University of Ottawa that was purportedly cancelled due to fears that it could be considered cultural appropriation. The Ottawa Sun later printed a retraction and reported that the class was cancelled due to low attendance, but that did not stop the viral media-storm in which many white columnists and writers derided the whole idea that yoga could be considered cultural (mis)appropriation.

Thinking about the issue of cultural appropriation in the last few years has changed the way that I teach yoga and create studio programming, as the Creative Director of the studio, and as the Co-Director of our Teacher Training Program. My teaching has changed a great deal from when I first began. Continue reading

Staff Spotlight – Get to know Leslie and Jason

picmonkey_image (4)Leslie and Jason are two of the organizers/hosts behind Queen Street Conversations. Leslie has been a work trade at the studio since November (she makes the graphics for the QSY newsletter) and Jason was a work trade for about seven months before he started working at Community Justice Initiatives (he was on the front desk on Friday mornings). They are both super passionate about yoga, community engagement and looking at the big issues head-on, which is why they love planning for and hosting Queen Street Conversations. Read on to learn a bit more about them, and don’t be shy to approach them at the studio to talk about Game of Thrones (they are both big fans) or share your thoughts about the complex issues facing the world. You know, just casual water-cooler talk. Meet both of them at our next Queen Street Conversations event coming up on Saturday Sept 27, from 1pm-3pm at the studio. (This event is free and open to all.)

jason-les-QSC

Continue reading

Yoga and Action – Beginning to Bridge the Gap

This blog was written by Emma as a reflection on the Sacred Justice Workshop from last weekend, and thoughts on where to go next as a community.

Leena and I have long contemplated the intersection of yoga and world issues. We have asked ourselves, how can spiritual practice be an integral part of working towards a more beautiful and inclusive world? How can it support and sustain us in growing our awareness and understanding, and how can it energize us towards action? And how might we view outward action as necessary and integral to spiritual practice? Continue reading

SACRED JUSTICE – Exploring Yoga, Awareness and Social Action as a Community

One aspect of our vision statement at Queen Street Yoga is “Growing Community”. By this we mean that we are committed to seeing our practices as a bridge to awareness and action in our local community and our wider world. We also endeavour to support intelligent change-making and social responsiveness, and to co-create inclusive, diverse, and playful spaces. Continue reading

Queen Street Conversations: Talking about Climate Change

I didn’t know what to expect when I came for the chat: what we would talk about, the emotions that would arise, how involved people would get. As a home body, I often struggle with getting involved in activities outside of work hours, but at the same time I also have a desire to connect with the community that resides beyond my home and workspace. When presented with the opportunity, I often pass over such events, but this time something deeper drew me to come. For a long time I have struggled to participate in conversations surrounding climate change. When someone mentions the documentary they just watched about floods, extinctions and the like, I am paralyzed by fear: fear of the unknown, and by feelings of hopelessness, and powerlessness. What are we going to do? How will I survive? What’s going to really happen? Continue reading