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Yoga studio flows into new venue
Improved accessibility, greater floor space to benefit users

Simon Whitehouse
Northern News Services
Friday, September 18, 2015

One of the city's major locations for yoga practitioners and those new to the therapeutic exercise opened its new location downtown this past Saturday.

NNSL photo/graphic

Yoga instructor Maureen Tonge uses the gong during a kundalini yoga demonstration at the Collective Soul Space opening on Sept. 12. Tonge explained the background of the practice, which uses the vibration of people's bodies to provide therapy. - Simon Whitehouse/NNSL photo

Visitors poured into the Collective Soul Space studio at the Scotia Centre during the grand opening.

The seven members who run the studio were formerly on the third floor of the Peace Building across from Overlander Sports on 51 Street. The new space, which was open to the public this week, will provide better services because of its greater accessibility, according to the owners.

"We took the environment that was at the Peace Building and moved it to a bigger space," said Johanna Tiemessen, president of the collective. "The biggest thing is that we now have improved accessibility with an elevator, which is something we always wanted."

The floor space is more than 430 square metres, which is double the space at the Peace Building. The new venue also features new change rooms and flooring.

The space is run by a "Collective Soul Space Cooperative" who include Tiemessen, Maureen Tonge, Christa Domchek, Stephanie Irlbacher-Fox, Nancy Mullick, Cheryl Minkoff, and Aislinn Stirling each of whom run their own businesses and offers a different approach to wellness programming. Together they seek to create a place for healing and physical and spiritual growth that appeals to different demographics. The space is also open to third-party renters, such as artists and performers for workshops and personal practice.

"We have programming that runs from prenatal to right after the baby is born to kids yoga to teen yoga to adult classes to Christa's class, which is yoga for people with disabilities," said Tiemessen. "So basically we offer a class for every demographic and we pride ourselves on being all-inclusive no matter who you are or what your mobility issues are. We just want to honour that and help our community be more healthy overall."

Expectant and young mothers are among the target markets for Tiemessen's class, titled Dancing for Birth.

Tiemessen recently became specially certified to teach the class. As a longtime birth coach, she said using dance movements can help mothers with the natural progression of birth in terms of limiting back labour and getting the baby in the right position.

"It is simple and easy movement that can help facilitate a safer, easier birth," she said. "It takes movements from belly dance, Latin dance and Caribbean dance where women celebrate their pregnancy and use natural techniques such as dance in labour. So it is easy movements to loosen up the spine and get the baby get in the right position."

Tonge offers a Baby and Me class, which allows for newborn babies to be included with their mothers.

Greau, who gave birth last year, was a yoga practitioner under Tiemessen last year before the Dancing for Birth program was available. Greau said she had a C-section, but had the Dancing for Birth been available, it would have helped her with movement in delivering her child naturally.

"I took (a class with Tiemessen last year) hoping there was something else like the Dance for Birth, but she wasn't running it last year," Greau said. "I am not pregnant but if I did get pregnant, I would be happy to know it was available because it is important to know how to connect with the movement of the baby."

With accessibility issues addressed with an elevator, the partners are also looking to appeal more to people with physical disabilities. Christa Domchek has provided yoga for people with multiple sclerosis at the Northern United Centre, but now is taking advantage with the new space.

On Saturday visitors were also treated to a Japanese Taiko drumming demonstration by Mullick.

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