Labour Day Long Weekend Schedule

Hi Yogis!


Is it really almost September already? Wow!


We hope you have exciting plans for this final long weekend of summer. If those plans involve some tender loving self-care, note that we will only be running Master Yuan’s Qi Gong class on Sunday, August 31st, and will be CLOSED on Monday, September 1st.

All regularly scheduled classes are ON for Friday and Saturday!



First (ish) Hot Yoga Experience: Just Enough

Four years ago, I tried Bikram yoga. A studio close to my house had a deal for thirty days of unlimited yoga.

I went twice.

I didn’t do yoga again for three years.

The class was too intense, too much, too fast. I couldn’t deny that I did feel good after the class, but that feeling wasn’t good enough. During the class, I was on the verge of panic at almost every moment. I would try to breathe, and would start to calm down, but another wave of heat would wash over me and I’d be back into crisis-control mode, angry at myself for not being able to do it Right. Not worth it, I told myself.

In time, I found my way back to yoga, and I have so far stayed away from anything calling itself “hot” yoga. Now, the paradox here is that I am a heat lover. This cool Toronto summer has been a big disappointment, and the 40 degree hot room at The Yoga Lounge has been a sweet temptation. It’s been whispering to me since I started working the front desk in July. I’m still a solid beginner, but I’m starting to feel more confident in my practice… So, today, I decided to face the challenge of hot yoga head on.

Michelle is a nice and gentle gal, with a twinkle and a sweet sense of humour. Her 6:00pm Hot Vinyasa on Monday nights is described as “A strong, fluidly sequenced class with the extra challenge of heat. Expect to build strength, flexibility, and core stability… and sweat!” I talked to her before the class started (always talk to your teacher when trying something new!), and she advised me to take it easy and to be gentle with myself.

Here’s a secret. Don’t tell anyone. But I sweat. A lot. I know, everyone sweats, but you need to understand that I sweat a LOT. I’m a really skinny guy with a high metabolism and a high internal body temperature.  Even in regular temperature classes, I perspire heavily. Heck, sometimes I’m dripping just sitting down.

As we float back into maybe our second downward dog, my very own salty river poured into my eye. And in case you didn’t know, that stiiiiings. Boom, there goes my focus, there goes my breath.

But this time, it was a little different. It was okay that my attention shot up to my eye. I found my breath again, I slowly wiped the sweat away, full inhale, deep and complete exhale. There. I was back.

Later, my internal heat rose. I could feel my heart racing, my breaths getting shorter. I started to shake… but I paused. I let myself feel the fear in my chest, and then full inhale, deep and complete exhale. Again. I’m okay. There, it’s passed.

As the class went on, I tried to treat the shifts between being okay with the heat and feeling overwhelmed like a game.  When I started to feel anxious, I’d try to smile instead, and would take an extra moment, wherever I was, to have a full inhale, then a deep and complete exhale. Maybe two if I needed it. And so I made it to the sweetest Savasana you could imagine.

Biking home, I thought about the difference between my two experiences with hot yoga. Four years ago, I would be frustrated with how overwhelmed I felt by the experience. My frustration  fueled the anxiety from the heat, and kept me battling the entire class. Today’s class showed me that I have begun to learn how to, in Michelle’s words, be gentle with myself. I tried not to fight with myself. Instead, I went back to the one thing I know I can always do, no matter how hot it gets: breathe. And smile. That was all I needed. That was just enough.

My route home takes me along Davenport, right below Casa Loma. There’s this great stretch by Spadina Road, where these huge trees bend down over the road. Tonight’s sky was fading from the palest blue to the simplest gold. I was still sweating from the class, but that slice of beauty reached out to that place of peace deep in my heart. My body felt good. My mind was calm. Hot yoga was hard, there’s no denying that. But I learned something very good from it, and I don’t doubt that I and the sweat in my eyes will be back in that studio before too long.

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-Benjie Kibblewhite

Iyengar Yoga for Back Care

Hello Yogis!

A lot of students have been expressing their appreciation recently for the positive effect our Alignment Based Iyengar classes have had in reducing their lower back pain. These classes encourage an increase in the mobility of the spine, while supporting and strengthening the lower lumbar. Susan and Carlyn’s classes have a focus on meticulous alignment with ample use of props, chairs, and the wall. They teach sequences that are designed to be done regularly that a student can adapt to include in their home practice.

Yoga Practice for the Back by Hillari Dowdle

We want to share this article from Yoga Journal with all of you. The author talks a lot about Viniyoga, a style that emphasizes the therapeutic benefits of yoga, much like Iyengar. In fact, the original study referenced in the article talks specifically about Iyengar. (“Therapeutic Application of Iyengar Yoga for Healing Chronic Low Back Pain”)


If you’re experiencing “garden-variety” lower back pain, Hillari’s article includes a short series of asanas that you can do right now at home. We also encourage you (as always!) to arrive a few minutes early and talk to our teachers before a class if you’re working with any pain or tightness that day. Our teachers do their best work when they have a better idea of where their students are at each day, so don’t be shy! This is your practice, and we want to help you make it the best practice it can be, right now, this day, with whatever is on the table.



Meet a Yoga Teacher: Annabelle Vincent

Annabelle is a relatively new teacher at The Yoga Lounge, and teaches a fun, playful Vinyasa Flow class every Sunday at 2pm.

Annabelle Vincent

Y.L. How did you discover yoga?

A.V.To be honest, I discovered yoga through boredom. I had nothing better to do one day a few summers ago, and then after the class I realized I really didn’t. I went every day for a month after day 1 and haven’t stopped since.

Y.L. What excites you about your own practice?

A.V It’s always evolving, I think that’s the best part.

Y.L. How would you describe your classes and your teaching style?
A.V. I teach vinyasa flow classes which are a balanced recipe of alignment, play, deep breaths and ease. We flow through all movements riding with the breath, working from the basics to the not so basics in an easy way, leading to the integration of all your layers and parts.
In my teaching I simply do my best to voice the messages that are coming through me that day, making them relevant for the bodies in the room. I never want to pressure anyone’s practice to be any certain way. All I am to do is to serve people, to serve their highest wisdom and to, over time, help them realize their own wild beauty and intelligence, and to give them the space to process this. The most important part is to tune in to the messages we receive in the moment, and all I am trying to do is to create space for others to receive this.

Y.L. What inspires you, personally? OR What gets you going every day?

A.V.This is the most difficult question by far…it’s a big cliche but everything inspires me. Everyone I have ever met and every place I have ever been. My top inspiration is my intention to serve others and the highest good. Everything else is secondary.
Y.L. Where do you think yoga, as a movement, is heading?

A.V. I think yoga has been moving for a long long time, and it will keep doing so. People tend to think its a fitness fad or it’s now too mainstream or whatever…I think it needed to go mainstream, that was completely necessary. And now it has. Everything is in a constant state of flux, nothing is ever really static. I think it will keep changing and I think that’s beautiful, and necessary. The raw realness will always stay. I think it will always be a beautiful way for people to plug into themselves, because that’s at the core of it all.

August Long Weekend Schedule

Hello Yogis!

This long weekend, The Yoga Lounge will be closing early on Saturday, will operate with a reduced schedule on Sunday, and will be CLOSED on Monday, August 4th

Saturday August 2nd

Olessia’s 1:30-3:00 Power Vinyasa class is CANCELLED. Regular schedule will apply for the rest of the day.

Sunday August 3rd Reduced Schedule

1-2pm: Hero Flow with Sal

3:15-4:30: Qi Gong with Master Yuan


Enjoy your long weekend! We will be back on Tuesday with our full schedule.

New! Qi Gong at the Yoga Lounge and Healing Sundays

Starting this Sunday, July 27th, the Yoga Lounge will be offering a Qi Gong Basics class, taught by Master Yuan at 3:15pm.


This new offering is scheduled right before Jane’s Restorative class at 4:30pm. We encourage you try these two classes back-to-back. Learn about the basics of Qi awareness from Master Yuan, and then put that knowledge into practice with Jane’s slow, relaxation based practice.


As a young boy, Sifu Yuan Jing has learnt to live the life of a monk. Born in an impoverished village in China, the he was chosen at an early age to live in the Shaolin Temple to become a Master in Tai Chi, Kung Fu, Meditation and Qi Gong. Throughout his life, Yuan Jing traveled the globe on a world tour. This opened his eyes in seeing many people in need of help. With the wisdom and courage he learnt from the Shaolin Temple, he packed up to lend a helping hand. He believes success in life is achieved by a strong mind and body connection.
Qi Gong is an ancient Chinese form of movement exercises that promotes the flow of Chi (vital energy) through the body. Qi Gong incorporates classic styles and philosophies with modern body/mind and energy concepts. The approach explores body and Chi awareness as a way to deepen into our internal Chi flow through movement, stillness, meditation, and breath. It comprises exercises for stretching and mobilising the body and joints, breathing techniques, slow movement exercises, static postures, special walking methods and meditation. With time and dedicated practice an easy and effortless quality emerges. Qi Gong generally does not have complex ‘forms’ so movements are simple. Each action aims to move Chi in a specific way and to increase the flow of Chi through the mind and body.

Qi Gong is made to warm up your body from the inside out. To warm up you organs and blood. This is great for athletes to practices before they go into their higher performance activities.


There is no ideal age range for practitioners. People from all ages can benefit from practicing Qi Gong regularly.

“I met a 80 year old lady who told me she use to suffer greatly from migraines. She took pills tried this and that and then discovered Qi Gong. It’ been 15 years since she hasn’t taken any medication because she does her daily hour practice of Qi Gong. Another lady told me it greatly helped with her pregnancy because she had a better control of her mind and had used the breathing techniques to sooth herself. If we have people who cannot stand for a period of 1 hour, we can have then sit and still work with their energy. ” – Yuan Jing

Meet a Yoga Lounge Teacher: Deanna Di Carlo

Next up in our interview series, we’re happy to introduce Deanna Di Carlo. Deanna’s Vinyasa classes have a fun, light-hearted energy that will leave you with a huge smile on your face.


Deanna teaches four classes every week at the Yoga Lounge:


7pm: Juicy Juicy Good Good Vinyasa Flow

8pm: The Unravel: Vinyasa (Slower Class)


7pm: HOT Juicy Juicy Good Good Vinyasa Flow

8pm: Vinyasa Junkie


YL: How did you discover yoga?

DeannaMy Grandmother has been practicing yoga since I can remember so its always been in the background. I discovered yoga at the age of 17 by the recommendation of one of my dance teachers and I loved it.

YL: What excites you about your own practice?

Deanna:  In my own practice I’m always excited by the unknown, the deeper you scratch the more you find. I’ve learned that we’re so much more capable than what we give ourselves credit for. The possibilities are infinite and that’s exciting to!

YL: How would you describe your classes and your teaching style?

Deanna: I looooove vinyasa. My style is a collective of teachers who have taught me and who have inspired me. Linking movement to breathe, building internal body heat and being both vigorous and relaxing. My classes are challenging yet light hearted and fun. You will get worked out, stretched out and most likely a little sweaty! Im big on arm balances and inversions, so I’ll always sneak one of them in somewhere! Expect sweatyness, juicyness and sweet tunes.

YL: What inspires you, personally? OR What gets you going every day?

Deanna: Inspiration is everywhere. Art, travel, books, and especially

YL: Where do you think yoga, as a movement, is heading?

Deanna: Yoga is becoming so widely known and there are some amazing teachers who are taking the lessons of this practice and translating it into modern terms for the world today. As a result more people are not only getting curious but the are integrating it into their lifestyle, no matter their profession or age. It’s catching on like wild fire, and I can see it moving us forward to a future where we all have a better understanding of ourselves and each other so that we may truly co-exist.

Meet a Yoga Lounge Teacher: Sal Sayeed


Over the next few weeks, we’ll be posting short interviews with some of the stellar people that teach here at the yoga lounge. We’re starting this week with Sal Sayeed. Sal teaches his Hero Flow (Yoga for Athletes) class every Sunday, from 1-2pm.

YL: How did you discover yoga?

Sal: I discovered yoga through my brother and girl friend as a way to manage my knee and back pain as well as a way to increase core strength and balance.

YL: What excites you about your own practice?

Sal: I absolutely love moving my body. Getting stronger in transitions and exploring new ways to complete transitions. It gets me so fired up to learn and do something new.

YL: How would you describe your classes and your teaching style?

Sal: My hero flow class is both very challenging and re-energizing. My goal is to achieve a balance of hustle and flow. Work hard, rest hard! My basic message in my yoga practice is to face all challenges and obstacles head on, both on and off the mat. I want people to realize their inner strength, to awaken their inner hero.

YL: What inspires you, personally? OR What gets you going every day?

Sal: Through my Blissology teacher training with Eoin Finn. We were required to set a personal life mission. My personal life mission is to be a source of happiness, hustle and balance. This is self affirmation I constantly remind myself of. It keeps my boat floating and wind in my sails. Yoga is my platform in which I can accomplish this. Being a part of someones transformation is amazing! Whether it is recovering from an injury or working to become stronger. I want to be a source of happiness, I want to show people how to hustle! And I want to help people find balance on and off the mat.

YL: Where do you think yoga, as a movement, is heading?

Sal: I think yoga is something that is constantly evolving, to cater to changing times. I also believe that no matter the type of practice, the goal is always to grow, to have an opportunity to look inwards and to just feel good. I believe the asana or the focus on the physical practice of yoga has become increasingly popular, because majority of society lives a sedentary lifestyle. It is the balance society needs at the moment. The fusion of yoga into other forms of movement and practice is a natural progression. I do not see a problem in this at all. I think its important for people to connect to oneness in any way they can. Much like there is not one way to climb a mountain, there is not one way to connect to yourself or the universe. I am excited to see how the world of yoga changes and embraces.


Alignement-Based Yoga: A Tool to Prevent the Spine from Aging Prematurely!

Yoga can prevent the spine from aging prematurely. In fact, yoga practiced safely through correct alignment can reverse the signs of age. We are all familiar with that look of a person as they walk with their head tipping forward. The momentum of walking should come from pushing off the back foot to step forward. It is extremely important for the spine to be able to stand up straight and look ahead when we walk as walking is the most universal form of exercise and we must be able to do this into old age. Yoga poses offer an excellent way of keeping the spine erect and in a spinal extension or more often referred to in yoga as a backbend. Alignment based yoga where we are conscious of symmetry can bring balance back to the body in places where we have developed pathologies..areas in the body  that throw us out of balance and these areas in the body are often associated with pain!
Our typical introduction to yoga is  A FLOW…flowing gloriously, often mindlessly forward into a forward bend closing down through the front of the body…therefore closing the chest  and  closing and compressing the pelvis. As North Americans we spend the majority of our lives in a forward bend where the spinal position is in flexion. If you think about how we sleep typically we are  curled in a position closing down the two main disease centers in the body, the chest and pelvic floor. If you sit for a living you are spending that time in a forward bend and the studies indicate  that sitting is, for our generation, the new disease that smoking was for our parents. Furthermore the research suggests that if you sit in your occupation your lifespan will be considerably shorter than your blue collar-mate!
To combat this disorder of the chronic forward fold we need just the opposite, more backbends in our yoga practice. The backbend or the spinal extension is extremely rejuvenating for the spine and liberates the central nervous system. Simply, as we sit for long periods the shoulders roll forward and eventually this new position is found in the body where the tissue through the upper chest shrinks. On the back of the body the shoulder blades start to wing or lift permanently to the point where the muscles used to hold the shoulder blades in place can no longer sit flat and we can no longer stand up straight! Similarly, closing down the pelvic floor is aging to the body as this area must breathe. The outcome is that little circulation and movement comes to these two areas and this tissue ends up becoming a disease center. Internal movement is necessary to support these surrounding organs otherwise they loose elasticity and function. Yoga is that internal exercise to the body!
Backbends…to bring the spine into extension can be done easily with support and more importantly can feel incredible!!! Props such as bolsters, blankets, blocks and straps can be used to provide support in a pose. Supporting a pose with these valuable tools can bring a healing benefit! This comes by lingering  longer in position  to work through the seven different layers of connective tissue and make the pose organic, to penetrate deeply inside the body and bring  long term change. We are, in fac,t re-educating the tissue as every cell in the body has intelligence, has DNA and we can recreate new memories in the body to resolve and reverse aging in the spine.
This place of stillness, staying completely present in the body as we hold the pose allows the body to accommodate the weaker places by sharing the load in balance. In order for this to happen, stronger muscles fatigue and new muscles step up to the plate and extend the life of the pose. We start by working our way inwards and then as the pose matures working from our center outward. This energy works form the bone, that inner most place in the body, where effort meets  energy to bring about this sense of moving in stillness.  This place of stillness is where the healing takes place working from the inside out, realigning tissue, layer by layer to bring long term therapeutic change! We bring something new  to the body as we let go of the OLD …old pathologies full of old memories that  we no longer need to carry through life!
Alignment based yoga with long holds may just be the new face of health care as we look for new ways to manage the aging process and take control of our health in a world that practices unawareness!

[author] [author_image timthumb='on'][/author_image] [author_info]Susan Emery The Yoga Lounge[/author_info] [/author]