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

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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!

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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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Singing Mantra – Continuing the Inquiry into Cultural Appropriation and Yoga by Emma Dines

Last December I recorded five songs that I sing for students at the end of my classes, while they rest in savasana, a final resting pose. We have been releasing the songs periodically throughout the last year on our blog. You can listen to and download all of them on Soundcloud. This last song is actually a mantra, called the Gayatri Mantra. It is one of the oldest Vedic chants, and this version that I sing is a shortened version of the original.

It is interesting and a bit uncomfortable that I am releasing this song now, after posting a reflection about cultural appropriation and yoga in December. In that post, I wrote, When I first began teaching yoga six years ago, I was excited about the philosophical content I was learning and eagerly shared my interpretations/understanding of Tantra with my yoga students. I taught my students to sing mantras, and told them stories of Hindu deities. Now, looking back on that, I feel embarrassed. I would describe my early teaching as uninformed cultural misappropriation. Whatever cultural aspects of yoga I was sharing, they had been taught to me by white teachers, some of whom were scholars, but nevertheless, I was taking aspects of Hindu religious culture and teaching them as if they were mine.” Continue reading

Happy Holidays 2015

A special message from QSY Director, Leena Miller Cressman:

IMG_0095Happy Holidays from all of us at Queen Street Yoga! 2015 was another exciting year for our studio. We celebrated our 10-year anniversary, our first group of yoga teacher trainees graduated and are now teaching all over KW, our teaching and administrative staff grew, and we’ve continued to expand our class schedule and special programming to serve our wonderful community.

This year has not been without challenges, especially related to ION construction around us and renovations in our building. We are very excited that our facade is getting a facelift, we are getting a brand new sign, and Black Arrow Cycles will be our new neighbour on the ground floor in January.

We have our eye on the long term, and we know that these changes will be wonderful for our greater community in the years to come. But in the meantime, we know that traffic and parking around the studio has been a challenge for our students. We, like many other local establishments, have noticed a decrease in business downtown corresponding with the construction, and our operating budgets are tight as a result.

Thank you for continuing to come to classes and support this learning community despite the traffic and construction. At this time, we would like to ask for your help to keep our programming going strong. In order to maintain the drop-in classes you love, and continue to offer courses, community events and workshops, we need your help! Word of mouth referrals and support are always helpful for small, independent businesses, but now they are more important than ever.

Here’s what you can do to help:

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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