To Give or Not To Give Hands-On Adjustments? — Emma’s Reflections

 

img_2198“My adjustment card is always turned to green but I rarely get hands-on adjustments from the teacher. I am starting to take it kind of personally. Why aren’t I getting more hands-on adjustments?”

Queen Street Yoga had this question posed to us by a student and we want to respond to it. There is a big conversation about hands-on adjustments going on in the yoga community that includes conversation about teaching styles and qualifications, consent, and trauma awareness. Emma is one of the Co-Directors of Queen Street Yoga, and this is her current thinking/reflecting around common assumptions about hands-on adjustments. We welcome your comments, feedback, and conversation around this topic.

Assumption #1 – Yoga teachers are fully qualified and trained to give manual/therapeutic* adjustments.

*Manual means “with the hands” and therapeutic means “related to healing.” Example: a chiropractor might give a therapeutic adjustment to someone to help relieve pain or heal an injury. Continue reading

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Emma’s Teaching Break

2014-09-07_1410113541This summer I am taking a four-month break from teaching, and I’ll be getting on a train and going out to the west coast of Canada. I’m intending to spend some time on the beautiful island of Haida Gwaii, and also visit some friends in Alberta, B.C. and Oregon.

I am excited to take a break from teaching, as there are many things that I am currently learning and churning about human movement, and I want to give myself some time to digest and practice outside of the space of teaching. Continue reading

Yoga and Race: Why Representation Matters

Queen Street Yoga teacher and creative director Emma Dines shares an important personal experience about race and representation as it relates to yoga teaching and representation in the yoga studio community.

B&W yoga photo

During our March Yoga Teacher Training weekend, QSY hosted two presenters from Toronto who shared their experiences and best practices of merging anti-oppression work with the teaching of yoga/hosting of yoga studio communities. Jamilah Malika and Christi-an Slomka led the group in considering the experiences of those who are underrepresented in yoga studios and yoga media/imagery, and understanding how and why yoga studios remain mostly white and mostly cis-gendered spaces, and how and why we might work to shift this.

During our closing circle, where we shared our insights, reflections and challenges with one another, I shared the following personal story, which touches on themes of race and representation. It was a story that I had forgotten about, but it bubbled up to the surface during the circle.

A bit of background before the story. I grew up in Toronto in a mostly white neighbourhood, going to a mostly white school. I am mixed race – my mom is third-generation Japanese Canadian, and my dad is second-generation Scottish Canadian. I remember being pretty aware of my race as a child – I was one of two or three Asian or half-Asian kids in my class. When I blew the candles out on the cake at my eighth birthday, my wish was to wake up the next day with white skin and blond hair. My mother experienced what I now understand to be micro-aggressions from many of the other parents in the area. The racism that my mother, my siblings and I experienced was subtle, sometimes internalized, but definitely present. Continue reading

Leena’s Learning Break

This post is from QSY Director, Leena Miller Cressman about her plans to take a 6-week break from teaching. Leena will be back to teaching January 12. In the meantime, all her classes will still be on the schedule, and will be taught by our other excellent teachers. You can check out the live schedule here.

I love teaching. I love guiding folks through these embodiment explorations we call yoga. I love watching a student take a deeper breath, or release tension from their jaw. I love seeing the exhilaration on someone’s face when they kick up to their first handstand. I love the peaceful, resonant sound of a whole group singing the sound of Aum at the end of class.

Getting to teach yoga as a profession, and lead our community at QSY is an enormous privilege.

When you love something deeply, it can be easy to forget that you still need breaks and healthy boundaries. You still need time to refresh and explore things from a new perspective.

I recently had a great conversation with a university professor friend of mine. I shared with her that it felt challenging to juggle the administrative work of running the studio, teaching public classes, workshops and yoga teacher training, and also make space for research and development and learning. Without much time for my own learning, it was feeling difficult to be as refreshed and innovative as I’d like to be when I teach. She pointed out that this is the precise reason for sabbaticals in the academic world. Every three years or so, tenured academics get a period where they are free from their teaching load, they lessen their administrative duties, and they get to pour themselves wholeheartedly into their research and learning. Since I don’t have a PhD I’ll just call what I need a “learning break.” Continue reading

100 Faces- 10 Years of QSY

This post was written by QSY Director, Leena Miller Cressman.

This fall, Queen Street Yoga turns 10! It’s a significant milestone as a small business and as a community. According to this article by Forbes, only about one-third of small business survive 10 or more years. Yippee, beating the odds! In addition to throwing an awesome party to celebrate (more on that later on), I wanted to share some of the story of how Queen Street Yoga came to be what it is today.

DSC_6433Just over ten years ago Meaghan Johnson, a Kitchener native, founded the studio. From the story I remember Meaghan telling me, at the time she wasn’t planning to open a large yoga studio. However, someone tipped her off about this beautiful space with glowing hardwood floors, big windows and high ceilings that used to be a dance studio, but now was sitting vacant. (Before it was a dance studio our space was a club called Pop the Gator- if anyone has photos or stories about that send them our way!) Meaghan arranged to visit the vacant space, and upon walking into the space she exclaimed, “Well shit, now I have to open a yoga studio. This space is too perfect.”

image (5)The studio opened with a staff of several other teachers in addition to Meaghan, and always had an emphasis on mindful, alignment-based yoga, with a grassroots community feel. Meaghan once told me that she opened the studio with about $1,000 and slowly invested and grew the business from there. This gradual model of growth, alongside a lot of community support, thoughtful offerings, and caring, dedicated students, teachers and administrators is why we’re still open and still growing today, ten years later. Continue reading

Emma says Goodbye to Wednesdays and Saturdays

IMG_5315When I first started teaching at Queen Street Yoga in January of 2011, I felt like the luckiest person alive. I had just finished my teacher training, and Meaghan (QSY’s founder and then-owner) came to a class I was teaching in Uptown Waterloo, and hired me on the spot! I was nervous and excited to start teaching at QSY. The first regular class I taught was a Thursday community class at 6pm.

A year later I was teaching drop-in classes on Wednesdays and Saturdays. When I first started teaching on Wednesdays and Saturdays, the class sizes were much smaller. I often taught classes of 2 or 3. Now the classes are full of regular students, usually no less than 15 (and the occasional Saturday is overflowing at 35!) It has felt so rewarding to build relationships with so many people over the years. I have often said to students that my teaching is a co-creation – I couldn’t do it without them! (Really. I would just be talking to an empty room.)

My teaching schedule has been getting fuller and fuller in the past few years. I teach a number of pre-registered courses (Intro to Yoga, Yoga for Round Bodies) and I oversee the Intro to Yoga program, mentoring our new teachers in how to most effectively teach beginners. I love teaching Rest & Renew, and the pace of teaching Basics classes really appeals to me (lots of time to get exploratory in the subtle movements and sensations of the poses.) This September Leena and I will begin teaching our second Yoga Teacher Training program, with an amazing group of enthusiastic learners. Continue reading

Embodied Teaching

This post is by English professor and yoga teacher, Aimee Morrison. You can find Aimee teaching a rocking drop-in Expanding Flow Class every Sunday at 7:45pm starting in May!

Before class, I changed my shirt–I was just reviewing my lesson plan and I could see that what I was wearing was going to work against my teaching.

In class, I got a student to come to the front of the room. We linked arms and sat waaaaay back. People partnered up and swayed together.

“Watch me,” I said: “Can you see the curve in my low back?” And then: “Put your hand on your lower back–can you feel a curve there?” And then, turning around, “Now look–watch my shoulder blades come together when I move my arms like this.” (This was why I switched to racer-back tank top from the Internet t-shirt I had on originally.)

Continue reading