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Nepal Fundraiser

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Kamal and I

by Meghan Muldoon

I met Kamal in 2009 in Kathmandu. I was looking for a guide to take me on a two week trek around Annapurna and he happened to come into the office while I was talking to the manager. He had a gentle and kind energy and as soon as I learned that he was one of their guides, I asked if he was available to guide me. It was one of those split second decisions that I was glad I made. Kamal is exactly as my instinct told me he was. He was patient and caring and saw me through all of the trials and tribulations of an inexperienced hiker. I had unforgettable adventure and am so thankful to him for an incredible experience.

Last week, when I heard the news of the earthquake in Nepal, I wrote him immediately to find out if he and his family were ok. I was relieved to hear that they were not injured but heartbroken to find out about the circumstances they are dealing with in Kathmandu. Kamal and his wife, Rita, along with their 11 year old son, their daughter and nephew who are both 7 years old and his two sisters have all lost their homes and are living under tarps. They have no where else to go and no idea of when they will have a home to return to. There are hundreds of thousands more like Kamal and his family in Nepal so please give generously.

Join us for our Nepal Fundraiser at OG on Wednesday, May 6th. We will have treats, 30 minute massages with Emanuel and yoga from 6-9 pm – all by donation. OG will match all donations. We will be giving the donations to Canadian Red Cross and the Canadian Government will be matching all donations.

Shake It Up

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danceWe all get stuck in our patterns and our habitual ways of moving. Take yoga for example: maybe you have been doing level 1 yoga classes for the past 6 months; by moving only in set ways, you might go on automatic pilot. Consider trying a new movement modality to wake yourself up. This might mean stepping outside of your comfort zone and taking a risk. Sometimes we need a new teacher, a new voice, a different perspective to facilitate further growth and development.

Recently, Octopus Garden has been hosting Trusting Movement workshops led by Taeji. I decided to dip my toe in the water and try one in January after hearing Scott Davis talk about Taeji and what we might experience. I am happy that I did. Sometimes the right teacher appears.

Taeji is a kind, gentle presence. Right away, I felt that he was able to create a safe, open, caring environment in which I could “put it all down” (his words). I love this phrase. I interpret this as emptying your cup and letting it go. Taeji invites you to sincerely participate in the best way you know how and to leave your judging mind at the door. We are encouraged to be fully in our body as he makes suggestions for spontaneous movement, often to music. Sometimes you move independently, sometimes with a partner and sometimes in a small group, often without verbal communication. It is liberating to be with self and others without dialogue. There is power in raw experience and I am reminded that I learn by doing. I often make profound connections through my body that would normally take me much longer to understand through talk therapy. I am in awe of the body’s ability to know, yet I am also aware that in every day life I can disconnect from my body. Society has conditioned me to assign high value to the thinking mind, but I do value the wisdom that is appearing through the body.

I show up at these sessions with Taeji because I yearn to connect more intimately with myself and to get out of my head. I understand that I am training myself to do this, to discover and appreciate other ways of knowing and being in the world. I experience a parade of emotions in a class, and I learn that they move through me and move on. Sometimes I feel extraordinarily vulnerable and I feel myself quivering. Sometimes I feel joyous, surprised , or have intense bursts of anger. I am NOT a dancer. But I AM movement. Sometimes a feeling of self-consciousness emerges, then it fades as I regain my flow. I remind myself to breathe, to put it all down and stay with myself. The other movers are engrossed in their own experience, yet simultaneously connected and inspired by others’ expressions of movement. We are together in doing our own dances.

 Join us on Sunday March 8th for the next Trusting Movement Workshop. You don’t have to be a dancer and you don’t have to be good at movement, you just need to feel a little bit curious. Come shake things up and feel more alive. Thank you Octopus Garden for offering these sessions. I am deeply grateful.

 Lisa teaches Mobilize and Restore a new class offering at Octopus Garden on Wednesday at 4 p.m.

By: Lisa Mitchell

In the depths of Winter and cold and flu season – how can you stay healthy?

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_MG_5903As January sinks it’s icy fingers deeper into us, we might find ourselves struggling to ward off the season’s cold and flu bugs. Lack of sunshine, the added stress of frigid weather (getting chilled can lead to getting a cold), being forced to spend much of our days indoors breathing stale, contaminated air, and being surrounded by family or coworkers who have already caught the ‘bug’ – these all contribute to compromising our own health and immune system.

While we can’t wear a gas mask in the office or check into a hotel when someone at home catches a cold, we can take preventive measures that reduce our susceptibility to infectious agents and increases our immune response to the same. Healthy lifestyle choices,  like good nutrition combined with homeopathic treatment, is a sure fire way to achieve this goal.

Homeopathy is a holistic system of vibrational medicine that uses highly diluted natural substances to stimulate the body’s own healing mechanism (of which the immune system is one part). Developed over 200 years ago by the German physician Samuel Hahnemann, homeopathy understands illness as an imbalance in the life force of an organism. Restoring balance restores order and health in the body, mind and spirit. A strong, balanced life force is less susceptible to external contagions and is more able to effectively fight unwanted agents in the case the organism has been compromised.

Homeopathy can be used both preventively as well as acutely. Preventive homeopathic flu protocols have been successfully used all over the world for many decades. Numerous surveys have placed the efficacy of the flu prevention protocols at ~90%. Acute treatment can, if started early enough, nip the bug or if that is too late, reduce the severity and duration of flu/cold symptoms naturally and holistically. All benefits come from a properly functioning life force – there is no masking of symptoms. Homeopathic remedies have no side-effects and no counter indications with other medicines and/or treatments, holistic or allopathic. This makes homeopathy a great choice for all, especially babies, seniors, pregnant women and sensitive, immune compromised individuals.

The same Homeopathic principles that apply to treating colds and flus apply to treating other acute illnesses (UTI, dental issues, stomach upset, trauma, injuries, etc.) as well as chronic illnesses (PMS, menopause, sleep issues ,allergies, thyroid conditions, gastric conditions, anxiety, depression, etc.). Come in to the OG clinic or book a free 20min consultation with clinic homeopath, Kanan Patel, to discuss how this incredible system of medicine can help you and your family.

Kanan Patel has a passion to help people (and pets!) regain their health and Vitality. Owner of Vital Life Homeopathy, Kanan has been using her back ground in science (PhD Astrophysics) and education and training in Homeopathy (DCHM) to bring her clients the best in holistic, natural and individualized health care.

The Politics Of Practice


The place comes to me before anything else and this happens when I am too young to know the words.

As I get older, the place sits in my heart, gathering, gathering, as I learn and grow as a human being, until one day I understand the reason I will fly over oceans to stand on her land, in her arms.

The reason starts when I am young, too, but as it is with all of us in those early days, the ones where we take our first steps and laugh our first laugh and find our first words, there is much in our grasp, just as there is much that eludes us.

I am know I am a girl and that I have a vagina—I don’t know what this means in the world, really, because I am shielded from the war that wages against my kind until I am old enough to be let in on the secret.

My mother—a single working woman—is loving and tougher on me and my schoolwork than on my brother and she says repeatedly, You have to do better…you have to try harder…as a woman you will have to work twice as hard to survive in this world…and so I do my best to do better and begin too-early to feel the weight of the world settle onto my too-young shoulders.

Already, I am a warrior fighting for my right to be here and I have not yet had my first period.

My story follows a path of (mostly) freedom from this moment on—I was born into a country and a family that believe in my right to choose what happens to my body; in my right to express myself using my voice and my words without threat of punishment, violence or death and, in my right to be a woman, equal to all human beings.

This path allows me the privilege to thrive.

So much of how our lives unfold depend on where we are born and what how we are raised—if you are reading this, it is possible that your path is similar to mine. You, like I, may move through this world with relative freedom; you, like I, may have figured out early on, not without some struggle, how to leap over the obstacles that are placed in your way by others who do not believe in your equality.

For too many of us—the silent ones, mostly—the only way forward is to survive.

This leads me to the place (Africa) and the reason for these words (the war on girls).

Had I not been born here and into the family that dreamed of me, my story would unfold in a way that is difficult to imagine. Instead of being encouraged to stand up for myself and create a life of my own choosing, before my first period, between the ages of four and eight, I would have been initiated in a ritual that my elders claim enhances my femininity.

They would perform this ritual—female genital mutilation—one steeped heavily in custom and tradition—to protect me from being raped before I was married at too-young an age; they would tell me that the sacred space at the meeting of my thighs is unclean and dirty and that my clitoris and labia are my “male parts” and need to be removed to decrease the risk of infidelity.

There will be many reasons and I will wonder if any of them are true.

What they will not tell me, even though they themselves have lived this trauma for the course of their lives, is that I will have to endure constant violation to my vagina—without medication or sterilization—many times as I grow older.

Because they will sew me together when they are done removing my parts, each time an opening is required, say for the blessing of my marriage, or the birth of my children, I will need to be cut, again and again, to allow life to happen.

Some of us in my village won’t make it to the rest of our lives—we will develop an infection or bleed out and if we are lucky, there will be a place to go nearby that will save us—and if not, we will die.


Photo from Pinterest


Bryonie’s life is rooted in the belief that when we come from a place of love, anything is possible. When not teaching yoga (soon-to-be at Misfit Studio and as a supporting teacher at 889 Yoga, Ahimsa Yoga and Octopus Garden Holistic Yoga Centre) or writing her heart to the bone (for Rebelle Society and elephant journal, where she recently stepped away from her role as Managing Editor), she can be found synching each step on this path to the beat of her heart.

Join her on Saturday, November 29th, 7-9:30pm, for Poetics of Practice, an evening dedicated to the freedom of all beings. All funds raised (the cost is $25 or by donation) will be contributed towards her fundraising efforts for the 2015 Seva Challenge to Kenya, with Off the Mat into the World, which focuses on female genital mutilation, early childhood marriage and raises awareness of violence against women around our world. For more information please follow this link:


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Hey yogis! We want to help you make awesome plans for this week, on and off the mat.

We have TWO PAIRS of tickets to giveaway to the screening of GMO OMG happening this Saturday at The Royal Cinema (it’s just down the street from OG). It’s an eye-opening documentary on the use of Genetically Modified Organisms in our culture. Learn more about how to heal the planet, feed the world, and live sustainably.


There are two ways to enter;

  1. Attend our 200 Hour Fundamentals info night this Wednesday from 7:30-8:30 and fill out a ballot.


  1. Share this post on FB or Twitter, and be sure to ‘tag’ or ‘@’ us!

Do both, and you’ll get TWO ballots. Score!

Get more info on the screening here:

And check out the trailer on their website here:

Good luck! Contest closes Friday July 25th, at 12:00pm. We’ll announce our lucky winners the same day.

What students are saying about yoga teacher training

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You know how they say that the best recommendations are through word of mouth? We couldn’t agree more. So when Allison felt like sharing her 200 hour fundamentals teacher training experience with us, we absolutely had to pass it on.


A Journey to Yoga

I was introduced to yoga through my mother, around the age of 16 or 17, who gifted me her well-loved yoga practice guide.  Richard Hittleman’s 28-day hatha-yoga guide, first published in 1972, led students through beginner to intermediate asana postures, while instilling the fundamentals of pranayama, meditation and a grounding in yoga philosophy, all of which have remained with me until this day.

As I began delving into my own practice, I discovered moments of joy, inner connection, and serenity. The seeds of a life-long practice had been planted.

In the first sheaths of practice, yoga has been a means to rejuvenate my physical body and clear my system of the residue of negative emotions and habits.

I was fortunate to rediscover my practice around the age of 21. A regular practice allowed me to heal and rejuvenate my body from chronic pain after an injury , particularly through a restorative practice, with a dear teacher in Montreal.

Our wounds become our gifts. This return to yoga allowed spreading of the roots of a personal practice which had been sprouted in my teens.

I am quite thankful that yoga has been there for me at points in my life when it was most needed. At points, literally nothing else has kept me going; it has been a best friend, lover, confidante, and a potent elixir to keep me afloat above all the suffering which unfortunately forms a part of all life. It has been a means to diminish suffering, and learn that I can prevent from occurring in the first place.

My practice has been by no means only a salve and bandage to dress wounds; it has filled life with positive energy. Asana practice has been the most powerful I know to transform my own energy and mindset. My practice and community have filled my life with cherished people, and helped align my life with values I cherish and share with those around me. It has been a deep bond with my mother and sister. It has not only been a means of regrowth, but of fresh, new growth.

The teaching training program and practicing intensively with the community at Octopus Garden throughout the year prior was instrumental in bringing my practice to the next level.

As I began delving deeper into my own practice, I learned to trust the honesty of my body’s wisdom and intuition. I found deeper awareness of my body’s special intelligence, and felt more grounded in my self than ever. I have also now deeply accepted that our wounds can blossom into our gifts, and learned to respect this process.

In particular, I am grateful that the program has given me the desire to expand my meditation practice. It was a means to recognize the impermanence of thoughts and emotion, and armed me with the spirit to reshape and master them. I know that I have had but a taste and awareness of the clarity of thoughts this practice bears as fruit. This is on a much subtler level than the asana practice which I was far more familiar with as a path. In quietly sitting, it has allowed unexpected moments of self-awareness and honesty. I believe this is what the prologue of Nelson Mandela’s Conversations with Myself alluded to, as well as the power and insight this provides toward shaping our actions for making world a better place.

I also remember distinctly, in quietly sitting, how I for the first time strongly felt the presence of a watcher, and the presence within me of an impermeable self. My eyes having snapped open, I now honestly believe that I am never alone, something which I had unfortunately feared most of my previous life.

Our thoughts, our own lives, and the world are ours for the reshaping. Our paths are mysterious, with unexpected turns, but a loyal practice and our community as companions can be our guides.

There is much more growing to be done.

Allison R.

There are many more testimonials to read here! Want to share your experience of a time at our studio? Email us at

And if Allison’s testimonial sealed the deal for you, submit your application for our 200 hour fundamentals program here. Classes start September 19th!



What a yogi keeps in their teacher training ‘toolbox’

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Yogis are a majestic breed. From harem pants to inversion tousled hair, it kind of takes being one to understand them. So when a yogi decides to travel the path from daily practitioner to teacher, their spiritual and psychological “toolboxes” aren’t the only things that need refilling. With both the 200 hour and 300 hour  programs under my belt, I know that what a yogi packs for class can completely alter how a day of study will go. Grab your biggest bag, your textbooks, and the following:

leg warmers for dance wear

The right clothing post practice (like leg warmers)

What you can already expect is that you’re going to sweat, and that a great set of yoga clothes will grant you comfort not just in movement but in sitting through long lectures. But what you might not expect is the kind of cold that creeps in post workout. Leg warmers with stirrups provide you a good middle ground; covering you up enough to stay warm, but not taking away that barefoot comfort of studio life. They also help to navigate sweaty floors, and look adorable on everyone. Light cardigans and scarves are other popular picks for post practice lecture gear. Comfort is the name of the game!


Friendship-forming gluten free and vegan treats (like apple chips)

Using your mind builds up a serious appetite (not to mention jump-switching.) Packing a variety of healthy meals and snacks is key to staying focused on the task at hand and not your growling stomach. So when it comes to sharing space with other hungry yogis, sharing a bag of trail mix, ripping off a piece of your banana bread, or trading items like you did in your schoolyard days can form some serious bonds. Being courteous of allergies and diets means making friends with everyone, too. Just don’t be surprised when your mat becomes the place to be on breaks.


Oils (of the cleaning or health boosting varieties)

When it comes to staying a well rounded individual, it’s amazing how often oil comes up to bat for us. Although Octopus Garden is a scent-free environment, many students bring adorable vials with them for short sniffs, for boosting their health or immunity (think oil of oregano,) and for cleaning up their mats; although we do mix our own handy essential oil spray for student use. Whether it’s in your smoothie, on your wrist, or just keeping food odours out of your bag, there’s really no denying the power of essential oils. Just try to avoid pesky spills.

The right attitude

Coming in with an open mind, a willingness to learn, and more than a bags worth of patience for yourself will truly get you through this practice-changing program. Having the bravery to arrive and be present is something you can’t bake, buy, or barter for. But your efforts will come with the reward of education, friendship, and a better understanding of the universe as it unfolds around you. No matter how tired you feel come midday, you’ll get through it and be a better person for it!


We’re accepting applications now for our fall 200 hour fundamentals teacher training program. Check out the website, come in, or give us a call at 416.515.8885 for more info. We offer a Taste of Teacher Training pass that’s good for a week of classes. We’ll meet you on your mat!

By: Eva Severed