Teaching With Common Ground
Common Ground Yoga teachers acknowledge that the common ground we practice on is colonized land; that many of our participants have been dispossessed from their lands, countries, communities and homes due to violence, war, discrimination and poverty; that many face violence and dispossession from the gentrification of our neighbourhoods; and that although there are some temporary spaces to get people out of the cold, these facilities are under funded, under programmed and under staffed. Recognizing the politics of the ground we practice on, Common Ground Yoga teachers commit to recognizing and challenging our privilege, taking responsibility for the ways we knowingly and unknowingly benefit from and perpetuate this through our teaching, and serve without judging, pathologizing, disempowering or trying to save others. Instead, we move and breathe in community, knowing that we have not arrived on the other side of any enlightenment, but are here practicing, failing, learning, growing and laughing together.
My approach to yoga is to create accessible spaces to cultivate strength, empowerment, and empathy. I started practicing yoga after I developed epilepsy and was unable to safely ride my bike, swim laps, or even feel confident walking down the street on my own. The safety and freedom I discovered through yoga reconnected me to my body and allowed me to see how strong it was - even with seizures. I wanted to learn more about the benefits of yoga for health and healing, which included completing the 200 YTT, 300 YTT and Restorative YTT at Octopus Garden Holistic Yoga Centre in Toronto, as well as additional certifications from the New Leaf Foundation’s Reaching In, Reaching Out: Yoga for Youth Training and the Yoga For All certification. I have taught in studios, schools, boardrooms and parks, but now focus on running free, accessible, community classes in women’s shelters, drop-in centres, transitional houses and drug treatment centres in downtown Toronto. I also teach trauma-informed workshops for established yoga teachers, front-line practitioners and yoga teachers-in-training.