Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Coffee and Yoga; Halifax Student-Led Yoga Group

As I'm sitting from my parents computer, escaping Jessica Fletcher reruns, I thought I'd provide a quick update on my latest step in Personal Practice Adventure: the Community Yoga project.

I wrote earlier that I was really wanting to foster a sense of "student" specific yoga community in Halifax. I was (and am) a bit tired of attending and seeing all the events and groups being extremely teacher oriented and studio specific. Teachers in Halifax are generally attached to a studio, so instead of nurturing a yoga community, the meetings and group tend to promote the studio, becoming insular instead of open.

After I wrote that post I emailed a local Anusara teacher (ok, THE Anusara teacher in the city) and we met the following week to chat. It was an honest and open discussion of what the Haligonian yoga studio relationships and community were like. From this a few suggestions and an action plan was created. I knew that if I wanted a Halifax Student-Led support group, I would have to organize it myself. Although useful, teacher-led groups often reflect the studio and the teachers' interests... and not the students'. 
Thus, "Coffee and Yoga" was created. The following evening I wrote up a "Letter of Intention", outlining the mission and values of the group. Here's the pdf file of our letter (not so clear, but I'm not quite sure how to link a pdf...).

The basics of the group: a monthly opportunity for student yogi/nis to meet and chat in a safe, open and respectful environment about topics of interest. these topics could range from the different styles of yoga, the 8 limbs, pranayama, how to improve your home practice or specific asana questions. The only catch- all topics and themes must be student driven and open to all studios and yoga disciplines of the city.

When topics or questions arise that require further explanation, a local teacher will be approached to attend a meeting and help clarify concerns. 

In order to create a sense of openness and non-connection to one particular studio, we've decided to meet in local coffee shops. Not only do coffee shops provide a neutral and casual environment to encourage connection and community, but they are familiar. People have met and connected over coffee and tea for hundreds of years. Nevermind that I really like JustUs! fair trade organic mochaccinos.... :)

The next step after creating our "Letter of Intention" was to let the studios know. I really don't want this entire idea to become a random poster that studios put up on their "community boards". Call me idealistic, but I want this to become more than that. As a result, I have emailed a few studios and boutiques with the letter attached... and followed this up with a few pop in visits. 

So far the process has been interesting. I know a few studios will be a bit tricky to navigate, and am unsure as to how much they will support and promote this group to their clients. I have received some really nice support from a few wonderful yogi teachers (Leanne from Grow A Lotus Yoga and Krista from Bhavana Yoga Boutique). 

In order to encourage more meetings I've found myself directly asking for them... which is a bit awkward, but should be interesting. Next week my plan is to email the last half of the studios in the city, requesting meetings in order to discuss the group, go over the owners concerns, suggestions and insight. I hope to learn and grow from this experience as much as help teachers understand the importance and potential to create a more cohesive, complete Yoga community. A community that is not just created and supported by teachers, but includes all Yogi/nis in the city.

If you're a Haligonian, practice Yoga and would like to learn more about this group, please visit the website: You'll find info on Coffee and Yoga, Yoga in the Park and local studios and teachers. There's even a nifty POLL on what topics you'd like to discuss (COOL! I love polls!). The first meeting will be on March 8th (this Monday)... which might be extended depending on attendance... Family emergency and such has delayed my PR of the group a bit (hence the trip home...). The meeting's topic: What would YOU like to learn?

The second meeting will be April 5th, following this meetings will be every first Monday of the month and unless otherwise stated (see schedule here) at the JustUs! Cafe on Spring Garden Road. I think I'll have a little sign or something so people will know who to approach. We are super approachable anyways though... I mean I work with preschoolers, I am definitely not scary :)

Second meeting topic: How to Eco-fy your Yoga Practice (lol, of course!).

Honestly, this new step in my Personal Practice Adventure kinda scares the "poo" out of me... I know I really want this for my own practice, I really want to connect with other yogi/nis who aren't teachers and to connect and learn. Do others?

It should be an Adventure!


article and photo copyright of EcoYogini at


  1. that really what people in Halifax are called? Where I live, the Mt. Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia, has great coffee shops and lots o' yogis, many of whom hang out in coffee shops, but "Mt. Airyans" sounds like a white supremacist group...

    Anyway, great to see you're going all out with this...I'd be there if not for the commute...

  2. This is GREAT! I am so excited for you. I wish you success and only wish I lived closer.

  3. Just how big is this Halifax place? And how many Yoga studios are there? Clearly I have the impression of a much smaller city than it is!

    I'm with YogaforCynics--I wish I could be there just for the coffee house meetings. What a great idea. And congratulations for taking the initiative to get this going.

    Please keep us informed about how it's going. And don't get discouraged by the inevitable difficulties. It will be worth it.

    Bob Weisenberg

  4. I'm so proud of you for doing this. Your posts on and efforts in the community building venue are so inspiring to me. They make me realize that I think the time for me to do the same is rapidly approaching.

    I don't know why, but it scares the poo out of me, too! ;) For one thing, my inner Hermit resists this. It's a miracle for me to just get out and see my own friends! But to create something like this...there's a lot of responsibility to it.

    However, I think it's where we, in this day and age, are headed. It's time to balance the global community we have built with all our high-tech gadgets, and remember to give the same time and energy to our local community.

  5. You are incredibly brave doing this and I think its a wonderful idea. I would love to support you in this endevaour, however as I am in the UK I think its a bit far to go!

    Please keep us updated in how it all goes.

    I hope it works for you and I am sure many people will be supportive of it too


  6. Really loving your mission to bring community spirit to yoga. All the best in your adventure.

  7. Such a wonderful thing to do. I used to do this with my yoga students - encourage them all to meet up after class without me, after all they hear my opinions throughout class, they need to form opinions of their own too!

    Go EcoYogini!

  8. Yay, good for you! You wanted a community, and you just went out and did your thing to make it happen! That is a very cool thing to do. If you felt a lack of community, I'm sure there are a lot of others in Halifax that feel the same way! Kudos to you!

  9. This is very brave of you! I'd be way too shy to go to all the teachers and studios. I'll have to come to one at some point when I'm visiting the city.

  10. You are so brave to organize this! I hope that you all enjoy lots of inspiring discussion and happy caffeine buzzes. Namaste!

  11. What an awesome step for yogis! I have had many of the same feelings that belonging to a yoga studio has ended up more like a gym membership. And not in a bad way! People have friends they see and its fun and they do hatha together but it seems to end there. It doesn't quite extend yoga as a lifestyle. In Zen Buddhism (and some yoga styles) there is a more a focus on the sangha, recognizing the need to learn and teach together and inspire each other to practice opening up and not just our hips.

    I recently took a break from teaching at studios and have enjoyed teaching an eclectic group at a coffee shop and a grad school. Thanks for your refreshing insight.

  12. Good Luck! Sounds awesome...developing your Kula! Rock on!!!!!!


  13. Bummer you're so far away, or I'd definitely attend your meet-ups. I love, love, love that you are following (and shaping) your bliss. It's interesting how yoga is about union- connecting self with the divine- but in reality, as humans, what we really want and crave is a connection with others. Way to go for bringing your local community together in a positive way!

  14. I don't like the city (any city for that matter). I'm a country girl for sure but it's opportunities like this one that makes me want to be in Halifax. You know I would join you in a flash if I lived closer. Sounds interesting.

  15. I think what you are doing is wonderful and putting yourself out there like that is very brave! I don't know why a studio wouldn't encourage something like this. As a teacher, I would definitely tell my students about it. I look forward to hearing about how it all develops!

  16. Eco,
    This is fabulous, and what initiative! Yoga is so different for everyone, so having a forum to discuss, learn together is wonderful. Can't wait to hear how it all turns out. Go girl go!!!

  17. Thanks everyone for the positive and shining support!! I have a few meetings coming up with local studios... wish me luck! :)

    (ps Dr. Jay, haha, yep we're Haligonians.... weird I know lol).

  18. Way to go, congratulations on putting you ideas into action! I wish I could be there.

  19. Nicely done! You deserve a pat on the back for building community and taking action. Hope it all works out well!

  20. i'm so amazed and inspired that you've been able to get this going! i'm going to pass on this info to some of my friends in halifax, for sure! will there be any kind of facebook event or group (because, you know, that makes the sharing easier...)

  21. I wanted to know if you would like me to send out information on the Coffee and Yoga (brilliant) idea in my next Bhavana Newsletter? I would like to help get the word out. Let me know what you think and/or send me a blerb I could add to the newsletter :)


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