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the
good word

The go-to spot for your GS fill between flows.
Cool people Q+A's, community going-ons, wellness content + more.

Meet the fam: Vance Hedman

Meet Vance: when it comes to extending his passion for the practice beyond the mat, he's the real deal. Get to know him Thursdays + Saturdays in Move Light or THIS Saturday at our first year birthday party. Learn more about this teacher that guides + moves us, below:

What was your path to finding yoga / what drew you to the practice?

I’ve always loved anything to do with fitness and spent a lot of time at the gym. It wasn’t until a friend of mine invited me to try yoga with him that I found something that really changed my life. I discovered it was way more than stretching. It was about finding acceptance in your life and creating peace within yourself, and this was all happening on my mat!

The spiritual practice of yoga is what keeps me coming back. As somebody who has struggled with addiction and mental health issues, my practice has allowed me to find myself through the chaos that can show up in my mind.

How do you incorporate the practice into your life off the mat?

I live by the philosophy of yoga so I really am in my practice every moment. It guides me through being aware of my feelings and trusting my intuition. Whenever I feel lost or stressed I know I need to stop and take a moment to slow down my breath. It reminds me I’m right where I am supposed to be.

Plans for the warmer months?

I love to travel so I have a couple small trips coming up including D.C. and to my hometown in Saskatchewan for a family visit.

What influences are infusing into your teaching style atm?

At the moment I’m learning a lot about mental control and different ways to meditate to go to a deeper state. I want to bring more focus to the awareness of the mind to my students. I’m hoping to teach others they have so much more power over their lives than they know.

Other kinds of movement you dig to compliment your yoga practice?

I love to dance! So lately I’ve been doing a lot of dance classes, which has actually given me a similar feeling to what yoga does. It gets you out of your head and you can push past some mental blocks just by dropping it low!

You're teaching our second free Move class at the Good Space birthday party June 15th, and you've also been with us since day one. What does being apart of this community mean to you?

Being apart of Good Space has been such a wonderful experience! I’ve been able to meet so many people, some who have been coming to my classes since day one. I’ve truly grown to care about everyone who shows up. I’m so proud of the work they put into their practice. I am so grateful to be apart of such a unique, kind and beautiful yoga studio.

Photos by Sincerely Image.

Meet the fam: Regan Harney

Meet Regan: part time GS cutie Monday nights + Thursday mornings, full-time plant lover + grower. Learn more about this teacher that guides and moves us, below:

How did you find yoga?

I grew up training and performing various styles of dance, and competitively as a provincial gymnast. When I was 18 and found yoga, it was a perfect step from my childhood routine and passions into a new, fun and diverse form of exercise. It began predominantly as a physical practice, then slowly evolved into something much deeper. It was through attending very inspirational classes and practicing with dedicated teachers where the elements of prana, mindfulness, and meditation came with ease. It was a very natural progression from my practice being mostly movement, to the connection with mind, body and breath.

The one class that changed my entire practice was in 2014 at Ahimsa Yoga in Toronto with JP Tamblyn-Sabo. He encouraged us to practice the full 60 minutes with our eyes closed, bringing our focus and attention inside and not worrying about external factors. It was one of those "ah-ha!" moments; yoga is about what's happening inside, not how you or anyone else looks. JP’s teaching inspired me to take his 300 hour yoga teacher training in 2016. I was interested in digging deeper into the philosophies, history and anatomy of yoga to enhance my own practice. I had no intention of becoming a teacher until I taught my first class and felt like a wizard. Walking around the practice room, instructing people to move in a positive, healthy way, while connecting with themselves and breath. All intended for the result of improving the way you feel - I still can't get over people thanking me for a class when really I want to thank them for making ME feel so good.

Now I crave yoga - I crave teaching it, practicing it, meeting people who love it and use it as a tool to continuously grow in many different directions.

Summer plans?

Tend to my garden (growing food and flowers), spending lots of time outside camping, canoeing, running, exploring and soaking up the sun ~

Favourite plant?

I have so many favourite plants but my ultimate favourite plant is an Iris, for two reasons: 1) its name comes from the Greek word for rainbow and 2) every May for as long as I can remember, my mother would wake me up early to watch the irises blossom in our front garden hoping the blossoms would explode on my birthday and / or (depending on the year) Mother's Day.



Sweet or savoury?

SAVOURY.

Current sounds you're practicing to:

https://open.spotify.com/user/reganellen/playlist/5jd4NgjCZpHp95nwZxiK4U?si=p5dY_ARwRaOeZPavGYKQig

As an OG GSer since day 1, what's your experience been like since the studio's infancy?

Feels like I have joined a family and have helped it grow! I get the pleasure of watching more and more people come to the studio for classes, sweet events, and powerful workshops, all while creating meaningful relationships. I have become friends with people who come to my class and love all the other teachers dearly. Being with Good Space from inception to now has been such a wonderful ride. I've gone from hoping one or two people will show up to my classes to knowing I will see new and familiar faces every class. It's been a treat watching Good Space transform and grow into the lovely community hub it has become.

Photos by Sincerely Image.

Interview with a good woman: Sammi Smith from Soft Focus

Tell us a bit about yourself:

My name is Sammi. My background is in fashion design and I’ve been doing it for over 10 years now. It’s always been a creative outlet for me and Soft Focus is my company that I started in 2017.

I’m from Toronto and live here now, however I used to live in Vancouver for about five years. That time influenced my style quite a bit. It’s very casual and relaxed in Vancouver and I was living there for some of my most formative young adult years. So I came back to Toronto with that aesthetic implanted in me. I was really surprised when I came back to Toronto, how much more formal it felt than Vancouver.



How did you start your business / what inspired you to start it?

I had been working in fashion for other companies for a long time. I worked for Joe Fresh for a couple of years and was ready to move on, but I wasn’t finding other companies that I really wanted to work for. So, I decided to start freelancing and that meant working from home. This was a huge transition for me, a big lifestyle change. I was home all the time.

That was my first step into being entrepreneurial and my inspiration behind my business, Soft Focus. I wanted something better than ratty old PJ’s to wear around the house while I worked. Something that I could also wear when I went out for a meeting or to grab a coffee. It stemmed from my innate love of being at home and the laziness around that, but also not wanting to lose my sense of style in that setting. Soft Focus grew out of that.

Did you face any challenges as a woman starting a business?

Working in fashion I've always been in these very female-dominated environments. Most of the teams I've worked with were women, most of my managers were women, but I will say that the majority of companies I worked with, the CEO or person who owned the company was usually not a woman. That's something I'd like to see change in the industry. But unique challenges? I don't think so. I feel like it's been an exciting thing being a woman and starting my business.



How do you maintain a healthy work/life balance as an entrepreneur?

I'm a Taurus and I started a pyjama company because I love to do nothing. I work hard and I work a lot, but I don't think I'm capable of not creating time for myself. I try to avoid the burnout, and I think that I innately allow time for myself each day because of that.

That being said, it's hard to fully shut off. After finishing my first year in business, I got a really bad flu that knocked me out for a couple weeks, then I got a back spasm, and I was like, this is why you have to do these things every day to take care of yourself. Because I can't be out of commission like this if I am running this business.

This year, I've been making more of an effort to exercise and stretch. I'm realizing that something like yoga is a non-negotiable in my life. I need to shut down my brain and focus on my body, it just makes me feel a lot better. I've found that since I've been doing that it's been a really big help.

What's the most valuable advice you've ever received?

It actually comes from a yoga class and has turned into my general day-to-day mantra. It’s, "focus on your own yoga mat". Avoid getting caught up in comparison and jealousy and "this person's better, I'm not good enough". You are where you are and that's where you're supposed to be, and that's good for today. I have carried that with me in my work life for years and years and years.

The other piece of advice, specifically for running my own business is: focus on what you love doing, you're great at doing and what's the best use of your time, and try to find people to help you out with the rest. Essentially delegating and not trying to do it all yourself.



Do you have a self-care practice?

Not really. I mean - I would like to think so, but it’s not consistent. Right now with Soft Focus, the days are a lot busier than they used to be. So on days when I actually do get to work from home again and stay in my pyjamas, I’ll break it up and shower in the middle of the afternoon or put a face mask on at 3pm. That always feels extra special.

I also like this app called Happy Not Perfect, it's really cute. It's like a meditation/mindfulness/gratefulness app. I use it on days when I'm a little more stressed out. You swipe your finger across the screen and it burns a paper with the things written on it that have been stressing you out. Then you write down what you're grateful for. There's something about burning that piece of paper that's the best thing ever.

How do you deal with/manage stress?

Right before I started my business, I decided to go to therapy because I recognized that I had anxiety that I needed to learn how to manage better. So that was huge and it's made a massive difference in my life.

And now, when I have stress, I try to recognize it, and recognize if I’m having an extreme reaction to it. I take a breath and create some space from it and just allow myself the time to approach it a bit more rationally and less emotionally. Meditation also helps.



And how do you deal with periods of procrastination or lack of inspiration?

Well I'm a natural procrastinator. I tend to cut myself a lot of slack when it comes to not getting things done. And I think that's actually kind of a good thing. I was used to jobs where it was always crazy deadlines. With my own business, my approach is a little bit more: if it doesn't get done today, it gets done tomorrow. Nothing's gonna make or break the business by a day so I tend to be a bit generous with myself with that.

And then if I'm lacking inspiration: I carve out time to allow myself to intentionally avoid the million things on my to-do list. That allows me to get back into the headspace of being creative. Sometimes I go to the reference library and just look at books.

Do you have a favourite book / movie / music to feed your soul?

Right now I'm reading The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp. She's a choreographer and I just heard that it was an interesting book about creativity and process and I'm really liking that. Since starting my business, reading books like that have been really helpful.

In terms of a favourite movie – well, it's basically like comfort food for me – Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory is my favourite movie since I was a little kid.

What inspires you to keep going?

The idea of going back to working for somebody else, isn't something that I want to do right now. I mean it doesn't scare me, I could do it if I needed to. But I don't want to. So that in and of itself is reason enough to keep going. I also believe in myself and believe in my ability to turn this into a successful business that I’m proud of. And that makes me happy.

Meet the fam: Lindsay Duncan

Meet Lindsay: photo-taker, dog-petter, french fry-eater + your go-to gal for class on Tuesday nights. Learn more about this teacher that guides + moves us, below:

What should we expect in a Fundamentals class?

Fundamentals is a class to try Good Space’s 3 styles: Move, Ease and Still. In Fundamentals, you’ll have 60-70% of the class devoted to moving, usually in a flow sequence with a focus on alignment. Then, we move into Ease - slow, long/held poses to support releasing through the tightest areas, like shoulders and hips :) We also include a taste of Still, which can be either meditation or awareness. I’ll often incorporate still into Savasana, by providing guided relaxation.

Favourite pose to teach vs. practice?

To teach: A vinyasa! I’m obsessed with breaking with the proper steps to a vinyasa, and teaching students how to adapt a vinyasa for their bodies and needs. It’s a pose we flow through so quickly, and don’t often stop to check in with our alignment.

To practice: a loooong help triangle pose. My side body is forever tight.



Your current read?

Motherhood by Sheila Heti.

Outside the studio, find her:

Biking to breweries, borrowing friends' dogs, shopping in Kensington Market and lots of cooking :)

Favourite food?

French fries.

Teaching yoga: a side hustle or main hustle?

Side Hustle! My main hustle is as a photographer of people and the things they make - I work with entrepreneurs, artists, and awesome people to make portraits of themselves, their spaces and their creations. I took 1 year off from teaching yoga when I moved to Toronto (I had been teaching 5-10 classes a week in Halifax for more than 6 years). The year off was a reminder that I need teaching in my life - it gives me an immense sense of gratitude to provide care for other people’s practices.

Photos by Sincerely Image.

Interview with a good woman: Michelle Organ from The Shop

Tell us about the creation of The Shop?

The Shop was started just over 5 years ago as a response to the lack of creative, hands on community workspaces in this city. After a few changes and lessons learned, the studio is now a fully equipped ceramics and craft studio, offering memberships, day passes and workshops. I also run my own ceramics practice out of the studio, as well.



Did you face any unique challenges as a woman starting a business?

More than I want to admit! Dealing with male landlords, building superintendents, accountants, hardware store employees - they all had their challenges. As a woman who has always looked younger, it's been difficult getting people to take me seriously. But I just try to stand my ground with confidence.

How do you maintain a work/life balance as a business owner?

This is such a battle for me. I work a lot, focusing time both on The Shop and my ceramics line, Mima, which means long hours in the studio. Finding time to step away from the business, both physically and mentally is really important but, to be honest, so hard to do! I notice when I get run-down, the creative part that I usually enjoy becomes a struggle. So I try to get some personal time in most days (a quick morning workout or a slower walk to work, some dedicated online/bookstore browsing for inspiration, a drink/dinner out with friends.)

What’s the most valuable advice you’ve ever received?

Trust your gut.

Do you have a self-care practice?

This, I think, is completely intertwined with having a healthy work/life balance. A good morning workout, a nice long shower, down time on my couch, giving myself time to clean my apartment and do laundry - little things that keep me sane and feeling healthy and strong (both physically and mentally.)

How do you deal with/manage stress?

Always tricky - sometimes I'm good with it, sometimes the stress gets the best of me. Running a business solo means there isn't someone there to vent to when things go crazy. So it's finding those people outside of the business that will be there with open ears. Also remember that some good deep breaths or a breath of fresh air usually helps. Or else just close up shop for the night and turn on something mindless on TV. 



How do you deal with periods of procrastination or lack of inspiration?

Working in a shared studio, I'm always learning and getting inspiration from the people around me. The internet, libraries and fashion magazines are also big sources of inspiration for me. But, I do know that when I get tired/stressed/rundown, the creative aspect of my job can be a challenge.

What inspires you to keep going?

To see where the business and city takes me. I work hard to make sure my little studio space in the city is a welcoming open space where people, including myself, feel comfortable and inspired to continue to create and learn.

What is your favourite book/movie/music to feed your soul?

There is an old movie called Indian Summer that I watch at least every winter and usually a few times in the summer. It is about a group of adults returning to their summer camp they went to as kids. It always takes me back to my summers as a kid at camp and makes me smile and laugh and just relax.

Meet the fam: Patricia Dominski

Meet Patricia: instructor to Move More classes Tuesdays + Wednesdays as well as a juicy Move + Ease on Sunday nights. Learn more about this teacher that guides and moves us, below:

What’s your vibe: slow and chill or hard and sweaty?

I love both, just depends on the day! It’s good to find balance in both your practice and in your day. I love a challenging flow but also love yin and restorative, those two really ground and connect me. 

Can you tell us about your process for designing your classes?

I get inspiration from a lot of different places and from my own practice. I’ll take a day or two a week to sit down and write down ideas/themes, then I practice the classes out a little to make sure they flow well. I fine tune the classes as I teach them throughout the week. 

Favourite pose to teach?

Half moon + headstand. 

Can't live without?

A movement + meditation practice, laughing, my bike, music and yummy food.



Outside the studio, find her:

Teaching at Downward Dog, Pure Yoga and Roots. At the gym, biking around or reading in a coffee shop.

Past teaching experiences?

I used to teach dance, I started teaching when I was 15. So teaching has always been a huge part of my life. I’ve always been drawn to it.

Other kinds of movement you dig to compliment your yoga practice?

I have a weight training and mobility practice that both compliment my practice well.

Interview with a good woman: Lee Dekel from 100% Silk

How did 100% Silk come to be?

I opened 100% Silk shop in August 2018 as a way to showcase my textile-focused clothing line among a group of artisans and designers from around the world who shared my ethos towards idiosyncratic beauty and craftsmanship. I wanted a space that felt like a world of it’s own - that was luxurious, personal and welcoming to everyone all at once. 

What does a typical day in the life look like?

It looks totally different every day, because I have the shop and the clothing line. I try to just wake up, eat breakfast and then do as much as I can until I hit a wall. This could be prepping sets for a photoshoot, managing online orders or merchandising the store. It’s also really important to maintain a healthy personal life. I’ll never sacrifice a good meal, a night in watching TV with my husband and my cat or a chance to support my friends - everything can wait!


How do you maintain a healthy work/life balance as an entrepreneur/business owner?

By constantly asking for help! No aspect of 100% Silk could exist without my beautiful and generous community of friends and family. Drinking lots of water and exercising is also important.

What do you do to unplug + unwind?

It’s almost impossible for me to separate myself from my work, much to the chagrin of anyone trying to have my full attention. Getting out of the city is as close as it gets though :) 

Any piece of advice for budding young entrepreneurs wanting to make their mark in the fashion industry?

There is no one way to do it - if something doesn’t feel right to you that’s probably because it isn’t! Just try to find collaborators who feel the same way so you can push against this ruthless industry together. And don’t be afraid to ask for advice.



Any self-care rituals you stand by?

I love the Province Apothecary natural facelift massage, it really gets the blood flowing and is 2 minutes of my day that always remain the same.

Anything new + upcoming with 100% Silk?

We have the most beautiful show up now from weaver and musician Anni Spadafora. Highly recommend taking a break from your day to bliss out on her work.

Meet the fam: Ayah Norris

Ayah Norris is a healer, meditation teacher, Move Light pro and the literal definition of someone with a smile that could light up a room. When she's not leading a class at the studio, catch her for a one-on-one at-home Reiki healing session or during her upcoming Art of Meditation workshop, beginning April 3rd.

What was your path to finding yoga / what drew you to the practice?

I took a few classes while I was in business school and started a regular yoga practice while working my first corporate job… turns out life in the ‘real world’ was stressful! While I turned to yoga mainly for stress release, the practice quickly took me down the rabbit hole of meditation, mindfulness, eastern philosophy, spirituality and holistic healing. Yoga was my refuge while I climbed in my sales + marketing career. I eventually made the leap out of that career to study and practice healing, and took my yoga teacher training mainly to evolve my personal practice and stay strong and grounded for my healing work. I was resolved I didn’t have plans to teach… until I taught my first demo class for my fellow teacher trainees. The teaching flow came easy, I loved it, and everyone was adamant I needed to teach,  so here I am! 
 
Typical day in the life?

I teach and see my healing clients into the evenings most work days, so am lucky to have slow and easy mornings to myself. I’ll take my pup Otis for a stroll, sit for meditation and have a nice nourishing breakfast and tea before catching up on emails and messages. My days and evenings usually include a mix of teaching yoga + meditation in studios and corporate offices, working 1:1 with my healing clients at my home studio, and writing and prep for my workshops in between. Depending on what my intuition calls me most to, I’ll squeeze in a mix of yoga, catching up with friends, writing, reading or Netflix (just watched Russian Doll and am obsessed!), and always some energy clearing practices, reading, and self-healing before I drift into dream-land.

ayah norris good space toronto
 
How do you manage a work / life balance working for yourself?

It’s an evolving practice, but I’m learning boundaries are a blessing! I try to be really intentional and diligent where and how I give my energy. My work requires such a deep level of care for and attention to others, and I need to make sure my cup is full to give. I listen closely to my body and watch my state of mind. One of the perks of my life is the freedom and flexibility, so if I need an afternoon nap or yoga or meditation session between clients and classes to reset, I’ll take it. I plan out my weeks and set deadlines for myself on the content I share, and often head to a cafe to write without the distractions of being at home. I’ve always had a strong work ethic (business school and corporate life taught me how to juggle many balls without dropping any!), so I remind myself that even if I take some extra time off for myself one day, I will always figure out a way to get everything done.
 
Favourite post-practice snack spot?

Hello 123 is my go-to in the neighbourhood, and I can’t stroll through Kensington without a treat from Sweet Hart Kitchen!
 
Your current read?

Paths to God: Living the Bhagavad Gita by Ram Dass. I’ve read a few of Ram Dass’ books now, and each one seems to find me at a synchronistic time. His stories and wisdom truly light up my mind, heart and soul, and I’m loving this deep dive into one of yoga’s most sacred texts.

ayah norris good space toronto
 
You're hosting a 4 part Art of Meditation workshop series beginning April 3rd. Can you tell us a little bit about this?

Super pumped to share this! I’ve had a daily meditation practice for almost five years now, and it’s one of my most sacred practices for healing, self-reflection, intuitive connection, and staying grounded in a calm and clear state of being. This series will share some of my favourite practices learned over the years from teachers and traditions across the globe. There are four parts, each devoted to an aspect of our wellbeing – mind, body, heart and spirit. In each session, we’ll dive into how meditation helps heal, harmonize and deepen your connection to that area of yourself. We’ll explore connections between ancient theory and modern life, practice a diverse range of meditations together, and share space for inspired discussion. It’s open and accessible to all, whether you’re just dipping your toes into a meditation practice, or are looking to deepen an existing one.
 
Anything else movement / mindfulness related that's currently getting you excited?

I took a couple of Katonah classes when I was in NYC recently, and love how much wisdom and insight is weaved into the practice. I’m loving diving deeper into Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine, particularly related to our energy channels and what thoughts and emotions are held in which parts of the body. And the Yoga Sutras and Bhagavad Gita are rich sources of knowledge I turn to again and again, always finding a new layer of resonance as I deepen in my yoga practice. 

Photos by Sincerely Image.

We chatted with upcoming Sound Bath facilitator, Megan Marie Gates, about this immersive + meditative offering:

Can you tell us a bit about what a sound bath is and what the benefits are?

Sound baths are meditative, intuitive offerings where soothing/activating frequencies and sound are guiding the participants' experience.  You will often be asked to either sit comfortably or lay down, to find a place of ease and receptivity and to simply to listen and allow the sounds to take you wherever they are meant to in that session.  There are so many potential benefits of a sound bath, but a few are:

- Deep relaxation and deeper sleep patterns
- A healthier immune system
- Brings regeneration to places of physical upset
- Stress relieving
- Aids in meditation and dream-work
- Activates creativity, psychedelic responses and a sense of enchantment

What originally got you interested in sound baths?

Music has been the biggest driving force in my life since I was little.  Before teaching yoga and offering sound meditations, I was a professional musical theatre artist and worked throughout Canada for five years.

Around the time I did my first yoga teacher training, a dear friend of mine (who was immersed in their own sound therapy practice) showed me that sound and music could be created in a way that was medicinal, grounding and beautifully meditative.  I loved the experience of sound meditations/sound baths and connected deeply to meditation through the act of deep listening and soothing vibrations.

What is your style of sound bath?

I believe that when we are working with folks in a meditative space, the less you do can often be the most powerful and potent.  

I try to keep my sound meditations both simple and full at the same time. Everything I do is intuitive and unplanned, and I work primarily with crystal singing bowls, chimes, drumming, tuning forks, voice and field recordings.

How do you think they can compliment a yoga or meditation practice?

They compliment each other in so many ways.  Music and movement go together beautifully and I often work with yoga teachers to provide soundscapes for yoga classes.

Sound as meditation can be deeply powerful for folks who may have a harder time with meditation in general, and can often bring people much deeper, quicker.

Do you have a self-care/mindfulness practice?

My self-care practice consists of: morning writing practice (poetry + songs), having a bath (...or two) a day, ecstatic/free form dance and sun-gazing.

How do you maintain a healthy work/life balance as an entrepreneur/business owner?

Not well sometimes!  I think that living in this world at this time when things are moving so fast and we are asked to work so, so hard can often result in burnout and exhaustion.

When I make sure to be immersed in art (galleries, theatre, dance etc), when I prioritize time with my family (chosen and blood) and when I make sure to have two days a week of doing absolutely nothing, THAT'S when I feel that I am in a balance and inspired in my own offerings.

What is your favourite book/movie/music to feed your soul?

Ooh I have far too many of all of these!  Paring it down: My favourite book right now is ‘A Branch from the Lightning Tree’ by Martin Shaw, favourite musical artist would be Nicola Cruz, and my favourite movie at the moment is ‘Call Me By Your Name’.

Meet Megan IRL Wednesday, March 27th at 8:30pm for her Sound Bath. Reserve HERE~

Meet the fam: Krista Schilter

If you’ve taken one of Krista's classes you’ll know she brings all the good vibes. Krista encourages her students to get curious about their bodies, minds and practice to encourage a deeper connection to self.

Not only is she a badass yoga teacher with many hours of practice across a range of disciplines, she has a strong interest in urban agriculture and horticultural therapy and is currently pursuing a designation in Horticultural Therapy with the Canadian Horticultural Therapy Association. 

Get into your flow and say hi to Krista Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays + Sundays at the studio. And read more about this Good Space gal below:

What’s your sign?

Sag sun, scorp moon, cancer rising.

Typical day in the life?

Sluggy morning + meditation, some form of movement, write, coffee at my local, studio hop, teach, practice, teach, dinner w people I love.

What’s your vibe: slow and chill or hard and sweaty, any specific influences that affect your teaching style?

Mmm slow and chill some days and hard and sweaty on others ~ meeting myself where I'm at.

The biggest influence on my teaching style is life. Showing up to the unfolding of life and trying to navigate the highs and the lows with strength and grace and a trust in the process. Whatever I'm working with is channeled in my teaching. It's deeply personal and resonant. Different forms of movement, art, the natural world, all those I come in contact with - bc after all everyone is a teacher.

How has your practice changed you as a person?

It's helped me to peel back the layers of shit that kept me feeling stuck and small and it's changed me in providing the tools to experience the realest me - the truest me - beneath all the self-sabotage, programming, societal constructs, misplaced energy and unknowing.

How do you incorporate the practice into your life off the mat?

Building more and more awareness every dang day.

You’re hosting a creative writing + meditation workshop here on March 20th, can you tell us a little more about the inception of this?

I was fortunate enough to spend the spring of 2018 in Big Sur at a magical place on the rugged coast line participating in a residency/work-study that involved bio-dynamic farming and personal essay + memoir writing. I became particularly interested in the use of nature-based connection, improv, and kundalini mantra + meditation to get out of the head and into the creative space. This workshop will serve as a lil flavour of what I learned and how I continue to show up in this practice: keeping it simple. Together we'll get out of our own way, we'll move, we'll work with sound vibration, we'll meditate and we'll write for just 11 minutes stream-of-consciousness style to get to the heart and bones of it all.

Photos by Sincerely Image.

We chatted with Pilates + Still teacher, Jennifer Winter, about movement, breath + balance:

How did you get started in movement and pilates? 


The art of movement has always been a massive part of my life. I was a ballet and contemporary artist for 10 years and have a deep love for all the movers and shakers out there. When we move, our body sings and a vibration is released into the space. That same energy lives in pilates which made it a very easy transition for me.

How do you incorporate breath and body scanning into your practice? 

 
Body scan meditations have super powers! This effective practice allows us to find a deep connection with ourselves on a micro level. We always begin each session with a light scan to draw awareness to the areas of tension. We continue to keep this collected energy throughout the class by incorporating conscious breathing with each moving shape.

Jennifer Winter Pilates and Still

How do these movements compliment a yoga practice? 


When we breathe we let go. When we move we let go. When we meditate we let go. These vibrations allow us to grow and create headspace. If you’re looking for a class that’s raw, sweaty and transformative, this is for you! This class also offers a heavy focus on core which is a great bonus for your yoga practice.

Do you have a self-care/mindfulness practice?

I take my self-care remedies to heart. It took awhile for me to understand that my mind, my body and my soul all want different things. My mind needs stimulating conversations, inspiring artwork and a daily challenge. My body craves pilates reformer, plant based food and rest. My soul craves daily meditation, self love and purpose.

How do you maintain a healthy work/life balance as an entrepreneur and business owner?

I keep my sanity with work and life by formulating little weekly plans. I like to complete one thing at a time before I move on to the next project! It’s so easy to get overwhelmed but once you start to break things down and do the fun stuff first, you’ll notice your long list of to-do’s will start to disappear. My mantra is: pause, breathe, repair your universe & proceed.

What is your favourite book/music/movie to feed your soul?

When my soul is in need of a hug I always go back to the Artist’s Way (by Julia Cameron). It’s a book about coming back to your inner golden child and igniting your lost creativity. It’s a beautiful reminder about who we are and who we aspire to be. If your feeling artistically blocked, this will open the floodgates.

Meet Jennifer IRL Saturday, March 9th at 12:30pm for Pilates + Still. Reserve HERE~

Interview with a good woman: Morgan Dowler from Eleventh House

Tell us a little about yourself:

My name’s Morgan, I'm originally from Vancouver but I moved to Toronto in 2014. That's when I started Eleventh House, which is a hand-made jewellery company, made here, in Toronto. I took an intro to jewellery design course at George Brown, kind of like silversmithing. Since then, I've met so many amazing jewellers, metal-smiths and woodworkers that I've learned other skills from.

For the past few years I've been working for Province Apothecary, another lovely woman-run business. But a few months ago, I stepped away from that so I could take on Eleventh House full time. Which is scary, but fun!

How did you start Eleventh House? 

When I was living in Halifax, I went to visit my friend in Cape Breton, and we were going for a walk on the beach and I started to pick up rocks. I thought that some of the rocks would look really beautiful as pendants, so I started doing wire wrapping with stones and crystals.

When I moved here, I kept doing it as a hobby but I had a feeling that it could actually be lucrative. So I went to school for jewellery design, and learnt a little bit more and then was doing it part-time while working for other women like Julie Clarke of Province (Apothecary) and Erika Brodsky who owns Sub Rosa Vintage.

I was watching all these other women do their thing and was like 'Oh! I want to do that.' So, I turned jewellery-making into a business.

Where does the name Eleventh House come from?

I was reading an astrological book that belonged to my roommate and looking at what all the different houses meant, and the eleventh house is the house of friendship and relationships. It kind of links up with how I was inspired by my relationships with all these creative women.

Did you face any unique challenges as a woman starting a business? 

I definitely faced difficulties, for example, financially it's challenging to start a business. But being a woman, I didn't find it particularly hard or noteworthy. I think that's largely because the jewellery industry mostly consists of other women. And because of the community of women that embraced me when I arrived.

How do you maintain a healthy work/life balance as an entrepreneur/business owner?

I went to school for nutrition so balance has become deeply ingrained in how I live my life. I also run every day.

But I do struggle to shut off. Like the times that I'm working and then the times that I'm not working - there's just no divide there. I’m checking emails right up until I fall asleep and then checking them again as soon as I wake up. I do it because I feel like it helps with time management, but then it just carries on and on. So that would be the one thing that I think I struggle with.

One way I can rid myself of feeling guilty over not finding enough balance is removing myself completely from the city. Which is difficult to do, and not everyone can afford to do it. I feel like a lot of my income from Eleventh House goes into taking those trips to keep me sane...

Being from Vancouver, I was raised in the mountains or on the ocean, so that's been a huge change living here. For the first two or three years of living here I just felt like nature wasn't accessible, like I didn't know how to get there. Finally, I'm figuring out how to fit it into my life.

What’s the most valuable advice you’ve ever received?

I've been saving these little quotes on my phone, so when I'm feeling super overwhelmed I read those. This is one I was reading earlier, 'Give yourself permission to leave any person, place or situation that doesn't nurture, uplift or enrich you or your life path in a real way'.  

As women we assume these roles where we’re nurturing or always trying to be light and take care of everybody and be an empath or say yes to everything. I just learned that if you do that you're going to burn yourself out. And then you can't give anything to anybody, including yourself, most importantly. That's something I've been trying to practice more.

How do you deal with/manage stress?

Recognizing when I'm becoming too overwhelmed, which can be hard to do. Stepping back and being like 'is this a healthy thing right now?' Which, for me, was learning that I need to go on a hike, or leave the city.

When work doesn't feel inspiring, or it feels a little monotonous and I'm not bringing positive energy into my relationships or that space; that's when I know I need to do something.

How do you deal with periods of procrastination or lack of inspiration?

I kind of have the opposite problem, where I need to slow it down. But I guess in the summertime it's super slow for jewellery, so that would be the time that I should be creative and take time to make new things. But it's hard to want to be in a studio when it's so nice out.

So, that's sort of something that I have to figure out. I definitely get the most work done when I'm too busy already. You know that saying, 'if you want something done give it to a busy person'? That's definitely how I operate.

There are ebbs and flows though, you can't be making new things all the time.

What is your favourite book/movie/music to feed your soul?

Music has been a huge part of my life. I play music, but I've sort of set that aside to do this full time. Halifax was a great place for arts and music. I was helping run a girls rock camp there, so that has always been a part of what I do.

Lately I’ve been reading books about mountaineering and off grid living, can’t get enough of that stuff.

Interview with a good woman: Alyssa Goodman from Chez Bippy

Tell us a little about yourself:

My name is Alyssa Goodman. I am 26. I own Chez Bippy Shop, it's a clothing business with an ethical base. I graduated from OCAD and then decided that art wasn't for me. So, I went into fashion production.

What inspired you to start your business?

After graduating, I moved to Singapore and travelled through South-East Asia, which is where I got in touch with the production side of fast-fashion and saw, first hand, how bad its impacts were. I was meeting a lot of people that were working in fashion production, or had family members who were and it's pretty ugly. That really sparked me caring about sustainable fashion and starting a business. Seeing the working conditions in these major factories throughout Asia was the inspiration.

I came back to Toronto after my travels and I met my current business partner, who was in fashion production here, and we decided to start the company. We actually dated first before going into business together about a year into us dating.

I wanted to take that extra step to create my own business and to show people that sustainability in fashion is doable, it's not hard to say no to a $10 t-shirt. That's the main focus for us, educating people that 'you can do this', it's not hard.

Did you face any unique challenges as a woman starting a business?

Since my partner is a man, I find that I get a better response to emails if I sign off as him. I find that people listen more, and tend to get back to me quicker. So that's an obvious one, having people respect me as the business owner was definitely hard.

I have found that especially hard with sourcing and sourcing for us is the biggest challenge. We're talking to people from other countries, by email, sometimes they don't speak English. I have to talk to a lot of men who have owned these family businesses for a long time and they think I'm a secretary or they'll ask to speak to a manager. So that part is difficult.

How do you maintain a healthy work/life balance as an entrepreneur/business owner?

So basically, it's impossible. But mostly (I stay sane) by compartmentalization - for example, having separation between everything, like when it's 8pm I have to stop working. Because I could answer emails all night. So, compartmentalizing but also being able to turn it off. I have to turn it off, even if I feel like I'm missing something or not doing my job as well as I could. There's no longevity if you burn yourself out.

Also waking up half an hour earlier has done me wonders. I find that I can get so much more done by just waking up half an hour earlier.

What’s the most valuable advice you’ve ever received?

I think probably 'grow slowly'. I had someone who is very, very wise in business tell me to never take out a loan for more than you think you're worth, like more than you think you could pay off. And don't worry about making money for the first two years.

So just grow slowly, take everything in stride, don't get yourself in a hole, don't expect too much of yourself or you'll be let down.

Do you have a self-care practice?

My self-care practice is Good Space! The yoga is good for me. Before that I would just go for runs but it's not as good for me.

Also, I try to make sure I have time to just do nothing, that's really important to me. I need to just sit in bed, doing nothing at all, otherwise I just get worn so thin. 

How do you deal with/manage stress?

I write a lot of lists. Like pros and cons lists. So, if I'm feeling really stressed out, or if there's a deadline I'm like, ok, what's the worst-case scenario? And if this thing goes wrong, does it really matter?

Just thinking about the reality of it. And also thinking about perspectives. I'm 26, if in 10 years this is actually going to affect me then maybe my being stressed out is warranted.

Also, yoga does that for me, it helps me manage my stress.

How do you deal with periods of procrastination or lack of inspiration?

With the business side of things, I'll try to think of my favourite artist, or favourite filmmakers, and go through their catalogues. So, taking it back to why I started the business, thinking about what I like. Sometimes I think with the internet, with going on Instagram to find inspiration, it can often be too much. It's like I don't know what I'm looking at. I'll be inspired by something that doesn't make sense for me, like a stylist or an image that doesn't actually help me in any way.

What will inspire us when we're designing is looking through all of the years of Yohji Yamamato or Junya (Watanabe), and seeing what they did and that can spark something. Or watching a film, I especially love Jean Luc Godard films when I'm feeling uninspired because I feel like there's this beautiful serenity of calmness, but also energy that passes through them. It will make me inspired visually but also slow down the pace a little.

A little while ago I read 'The Tipping Point' by Malcolm Gladwell. I was feeling pretty stuck thinking about the growth of the business, thinking am I doing this right? Is it even going to grow? And I think reading other people's words, or watching other people’s things and seeing how they were able to do it, can help. It's normal to be stuck. You can't just always be producing as a creative person.

What inspires you to keep going?

The fact that people still shop at Zara. If people are still shopping at Zara, I will want to keep going. I want everyone to stop buying fast fashion. I want people to stop exploiting other people, I want to create more jobs for people where we live. Until people start realizing that what they're doing is bad, I will be making Chez Bippy garments and trying to educate them.  

We're a sustainable, ethically sourced company that is affordable. We don't want to guilt people or make them feel bad about what's in their wardrobe. But we can educate them. You have to be active to care, because it is a choice for you to buy sustainable clothes, or vintage or organic.

What is your favourite book/movie/music to feed your soul?

My favourite book to feed my soul is East of Eden by (John) Steinbeck. To me it's like the Bible or words to live by. I love it, it lines up with Cain and Abel and then aligns with Bible stories, following a similar timeline. You can open it to any page and it's great.

Music for when I'm feeling sad would be some Sam Cook or Elizabeth Cotton, she's a folk singer, she's great.

Movie, would be Pierrot Le Fou by Jean Luc Godard.

Meet the fam: McKenzie Taylor

Meet the fam: McKenzie Taylor

Meet the lovely souls who direct your practice. Whether it’s a sweat fest in MOVE MORE or a deep stretch in EASE, these guys have your back. Get to know the teachers who guide + move us. Photos by Sincerely Image.


Meet McKenzie, Good Space’s pocket rocket yoga instructor, who teaches our Move More on Thursday nights. In 2018 McKenzie expanded her practice to include training with Feelosophy, which focuses on restorative yoga with hands-on adjustments, and is currently pursuing MisfitMethod training at Misfit Studio.  

Read more about her yoga journey below:

Hometown? / Where are you from?

Portland, Oregon! And yes, Portlandia is somewhat accurate. Before moving to Toronto, I spent 6 years living and starting to somewhat come into my own in Victoria, B.C., so depending on the day; you’ll sometimes hear me answer with that.

What’s your sign?

Taurus Sun, Cancer Rising, Aquarius Moon.



What was your path to finding yoga / what drew you to the practice?

To be honest, I sort of just stumbled on yoga. Coming from a dance background, I went into it looking solely for something that would simulate a similar physical experience and outlet for creative movement as dancing did. But once I realized the effects yoga started to have on my emotional, mental, and in some ways spiritual self, I really started to become drawn to the practice.

What inspires you to keep making it to the mat?

I think it’s really about growth. The practice allows me to continue learning to dive deeper into myself, to create space, to cultivate my physical & mental strength, to CONNECT. When I recognize how much it’s influenced how I’m learning to evolve as an individual, it always keeps me coming back.

How does your practice fit into your life?

For me, the practice is about so much more than the physical movements, which is great in terms of being able to consistently integrate it into my day-to-day. Whether it’s practicing tuning in to my breath when things gets a little heavy, or as simple as checking in with how my body experiences sitting in a chair or walking down the street, it’s all part of the practice. That being said, if you’ve been to one of my classes, you know how down I get with lots of physical movement, so I try to make time for that as frequently as I can.


What’s your vibe: slow and chill or hard and sweaty, any specific influences that affect your teaching style?

I really enjoy teaching a class that sweaty and challenging, but I think it’s important to counter that with the slow and chill vibes. It’s all about the balance, you know.

Favourite plant?

It took me 25 years to figure out what my favourite colour was, and I like plants way too much – I don’t think I’m capable of choosing just one. I like them ALL.

Can’t live without?

I’m really tempted to write out the full names of my best friends here.

Interview with a good woman: Michelle Rabin from Mom Jeans Provisions

Tell us a bit about what you do:

I work as a recipe developer, food stylist and culinary producer. So, I’ve produced food TV shows, and I develop recipes and style food for the photoshoots for magazines and advertisements. I’m the one who makes the food look drool-worthy!

Also, I have a cookie business, called Mom Jeans Provisions.


How did you start your business/what inspired you to start?

I wanted to find a recipe for the perfect cookie that had crispy edges but was soft and gooey in the middle. I couldn’t find it in the city, so I decided to create it for myself.

I started giving them to my friends and they really loved them. Soon, friends of friends were asking for them and from that birthed a business!

What are you working on at the moment?

Currently I'm doing a new cooking show and writing recipes for various magazines.

Do you have a mindfulness/self-care practice?

I try to find stillness in my day, usually first thing in the morning.  I am someone who eats very well and I work out as much as I can. I love boxing.

What is your favourite book/music/movie to feed your soul?

Almost Famous! I wish I could see it again for the first time.