Karma Yoga classes at Union, benefitting local women’s organization


By Jasia Kiersnowski

Recently I graduated from Union Yoga’s 200 Hr Yoga Teacher Training (YTT).  Before completing my YTT, I was unfamiliar with the teachings of the yoga philosophy. Frankly, I was unaware that yoga goes beyond the actual physical practice or asana.

The process of expanding my knowledge of yoga’s history and philosophy was truly an […]

Creating a Culture of Consent through Yoga Practice

By Tobias B. D. Wiggins

To touch and be touched is not an uncomplicated matter. There is something immediately profound and tender about physical proximity to another being. Touch takes trust and elicits vulnerability; it is the vulnerability of two people connecting, of one letting the other into the private space of their own body.

In […]

Why Trauma-Informed Yoga matters

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it”. –Helen Keller

When I first started teaching Trauma-Informed Yoga trainings I would hear, “That sounds interesting but I do not teach that population.” After years of teaching drop-in classes, I can say that I rarely know each person’s unique […]

By |January 18th, 2016|Yoga, Yoga Teacher Training|0 Comments
Ruby Knafo – Teacher, Studio Director

Ruby began her yoga journey in her hometown of Montreal while pursuing her studies in psychology. She can still remember that euphoric feeling that stayed with her for hours after her first class. What began as a means to stay fit evolved into a practice that gave her tools to manage anxiety, and to stay centred during times of stress. Ruby has been practicing yoga for over 10 years, and trained to teach yoga in 2010. She is grateful to be able to share her love of yoga and its healing benefits with others.

Ruby’s goal as a teacher is to facilitate a deeper awareness of the mind-body-breath connection, and to create a safe and supportive space for students to practice – and she loves to teach beginners! She is a firm believer that all you need to practice yoga is intention, and breath. Her classes are lighthearted, challenging, and encourage reflective self-awareness and presence. Ruby has a Master’s in Occupational Therapy from U of T, and is a registered occupational therapist. In her private practice, Ruby uses mindfulness meditation, mindful movement, and yoga as therapeutic modalities to help clients manage anxiety, stress, depression, and chronic pain.

Nicky Wright – Teacher, Studio Manager

Nicky’s first experience with yoga was with a Rodney Yee DVD in her parents basement. As a competitive runner, she came to yoga in search of a slower physical practice to offset the more demanding physical activities of her day to day. Years later she sustained a traumatic brain injury and came back to her mat for a deeper connection to her mind as she navigated through the rehabilitation of her injury.

Her initial 200 hour training was in 2011 in Hatha and Vinyasa yoga. Further educating herself in Restorative Yoga, Trauma Sensitive Yoga Training and recently a Pre-Natal Yoga Training, she strives to always be a student first and a teacher second.

You will find in her classes a slow pace where you can dive deeply into your own personal experience. With foundational patterns of breath along with gentle Hatha postures and more alignment based cueing, you are encouraged to explore Yoga and it’s meaning to you.

Audrey – Teacher

Audrey Simard began her practice in 2002 in her native Montreal, then moved to Toronto where she learned from master teachers including Lyne St-Roch, Diane Bruni, and Maria Garre. Audrey is a certified instructor in Yin, Hatha, Pre-natal, and more recently Prana Flow, Shiva Rae’s renowned yoga program. Audrey’s teaching is infused with authenticity, warmth and humour, and she empowers her students to connect with their own strength. Her appetite for yoga is equaled by her passion for cooking and for slow & sustainable food.

Darcy – Teacher

Darcy discovered yoga in 2004 and after several years practicing in the Sivananda and Kundalini traditions, she turned to Hatha and Vinyasa yoga. Darcy completed her 200 hour Hatha and Vinyasa certification in 2011 and, in 2012, completed a 40 hour Level I Joga™ certification. She has been teaching regularly since early 2011 and hopes to start her advanced certification in 2015. Darcy’s classes are mentally and physically challenging, inventive and invigorating.

She strives to embody the five points of yoga according to the Sivananda tradition (proper asanas, proper pranayama, proper relaxation, proper diet, positive thinking) and is committed to continuing to learn, develop and grow as an instructor and student of yoga. Darcy teaches a range of studio classes, works one-on-one with many private clients and leads on-site “stretch and flex” classes for construction workers across Canada.

Erick – Teacher

Like lots of men, Erick came to yoga to oblige a nagging partner. It is hard to say what transpired in the mind and soul after that first class, but it was prodigious. He quickly dedicated himself to daily practice and once he felt ready he enrolled in a teacher training program. He likes to share with students how the practice can help to increase mental and physical awareness through mindful connection of movement and breath.

Erick’s practice is strong, sweaty and adventurous, approaching the body with curiosity and respect and his classes reflect the same.

When not in the studio, Erick enjoys trail running with his dogs, record shopping,  experimenting with different cooking styles, and staying in with his partner and doing absolutely nothing. He thanks his teacher, JP Tamblyn-Sabo, for his tutelage, insight and overall awesomeness.

Erin – Teacher

Inspired by modern Vinyasa sadhana, Erin approaches yoga like she approaches life – with a sense of humour and a desire to experiment. Classes with Erin are playful, challenging, unifying and calming. Erin completed her 200 hour certification in Vinyasa and Hatha in Toronto in 2009 and since that time has followed some of the modern world’s most celebrated teachers across the earth to continue her yoga education. She is continually invigorated by practicing with beloved teachers Maria Garre, Les Leventhal, Sadie Nardini, Seane Corn, Danny Paradise, Rodney Yee and Eoin Finn. In 2011 Erin began studying with her teacher and inspiration Shiva Rea towards completion of her 300 hour advanced Vinyasa certification at the renowned Samudra School of Living Yoga. Erin draws from the Prana Flow teachings in her classes and considers it her personal mission to bring her students “into the flow”.

Jacky – Teacher

Jacky began studying and teaching yoga in 2011 when transitioning from her Ottawa Valley farm to Toronto. Inspired by nature and life, breath and movement, Jacky’s teaching style fuses breath awareness, mindful movement and detailed conscious alignment. Her creative and intelligent sequencing is designed to challenge and inspire the body and mind, and ultimately offers the invitation to cultivate awareness and wholeness.

Jaimee – Teacher

Hailing from Ottawa, Jaimée works as a registered yoga teacher, independent dance artist, and writer in Toronto. She loves to travel, cook, colour, paint, sing, daydream, and move. Her goals include learning how to ride a bike with no hands and successfully growing a vegetable garden. She leads a strong and fluid Vinyasa style class, defined by thoughtful sequences that consider both the physical and energetic properties of the practice. Helping people connect to their body, expand their consciousness, and holding space for them to listen, is the best way she can imagine being of service. Jaimée is a Lululemon Ambassador and currently teaches throughout the city of Toronto. She also occasionally contributes to The Dance Current magazine as a news writer.

Josh – Teacher

Josh first discovered yoga as a way to manage exam time stress at university. Dabbling in yoga over the years, a visit to the Sivananda ashram in Quebec opened him up to the benefits of a regular yoga and meditation practice. Josh has completed over 500 hours of teacher trainings thru Octopus Garden and specializes in kids, vinyasa and restorative yoga.

Kim McBean – Teacher

Kim is a gifted and empathetic educator and practitioner with a passion for yoga, pilates and somatic movement practices. Drawing upon this unique blend of dynamic modalities, Kim guides students to live more deeply in their bodies via slow + strong yoga, restful restorative and core centred pilates. Her offering of Embodied Integrity, also includes themes of yoga philosophy and the energetic subtle body. With 12+ years educational and practical experience in movement and therapeutics, Kim nurtures a safe, contained space of self-inquiry, empowering others with tools and techniques that support mindful, bodily presence as a means to grow and transform.

Kim has trained at The Nosara Yoga Institute in Costa Rica and the Octopus Garden Yoga Centre in Toronto. She has studied restorative yoga with Judith Lasater and pilates with Leslie Parker at Mindful Movement Centre. She continues to study and practice yoga, somatic-body energetics, and other various forms of experiential movement with her most valued and cherished mentors.

Lauryn – Teacher

Lauryn Zuk is a yoga teacher, creative producer and poet. She first encountered yoga as a student in Asia, where she was introduced to meditation and pranayama technique. Returning home to Toronto, Lauryn realized the practice was more valuable than she imagined – coming back to the bustle of city life – yoga became a sacred sanctuary to reconnect. Lauryn is a graduate from Octopus Garden’s 200-hour Teacher Training in Toronto and is a certified Trance Dance teacher by Shiva Rea’s Samudra School in California. She has spent many hours growing her teaching and recharging her heart in Prana Flow workshops throughout the United States. Lauryn is grateful for the opportunity to share the journey inward through movement, in a safe space open to all. She hopes to pass on the peace yoga practice has offered her: the gentle reminder to return home to Pure Love that is always in your heart. Connect with Lauryn on Facebook at Poetree Yoga & Flow Arts or Twitter @LaurynElanZuk.

Melissa – Teacher

Melissa has been calling Toronto home since 2008, and it was soon after moving to the city that she found yoga. After discovering its positive effects on her mind and body, she enrolled in a 200-hour hatha and vinyasa certification. Melissa brings a unique style to her classes, filling them with creative sequencing and emphasis on strength, flexibility, balance, and self-awareness. Melissa is dedicated to sharing her love of yoga and creating a fun and nurturing class environment that inspires her students.

Sarah – Teacher

Sarah’s teaching is rooted in the belief that we have everything we need to heal already inside of us. She has studied over 1000+ hours in Mindfulness, Yin, Pre + Postnatal and Yoga Therapy and specializes in the therapeutic benefits of a mindful practice.

Sarah understands the practice of yoga as a re-integration into wholeness. She invites students to identify unconscious holding patterns in the body and habit patterns in the mind that inhibit our connection to our most authentic self. By deepening intimacy with our own true nature, we naturally move towards greater intimacy with the world around us.

In addition to teaching yoga in both private and studio settings, Sarah works as a Birth Doula, Mindfulness Educator with New Leaf Yoga Foundation and as a Yoga Therapist with Anishinawbe Health Toronto.

Taryn – Teacher

Taryn is an energetic and inclusive instructor, drawing from experience in facilitation, gender analysis, and a commitment to social justice. Having practiced yoga for nearly a decade, Taryn began sharing her love of yoga upon completing over 500 hours of Yoga Education at Octopus Garden Holistic Yoga Centre in 2012.
With her training in yoga, restorative yoga, and meditation, she is able to provide her students with a balanced practice. She is especially grateful for the ongoing mentorship she receives from instructors, Pat Harada Linfoot, Scott Davis, and Jeff Warren.

Taryn believes yoga allows one to express their true nature, first through movement and then through cultivating a deeper connection with oneself and with each other. She loves the creativity yoga has sparked in her life and utilizes this “spark” to ensure that yoga is, first and foremost, fun! Taryn aims to empower students to practice on their own by providing a safe foundation from which to explore. With light and love, she embodies compassionate and holistic approaches to individual and community learning.

Scotty – Teacher

Scotty first came to yoga for balance, physically and otherwise, and quickly realized the deeper layers to be discovered through the practice. He dedicated himself to daily practice and study and hasn’t looked back. His is a challenging and fun vinyasa class that combines his love of creative flow with his passion for breath and alignment. His class is themed weekly, usually toward some “big” pose, and balancing the strength and opening necessary to prepare the body for the more adventurous asanas. Expect to sweat, to meet an edge (or two), and to smile.

Scotty believes that we can all come to a greater realization of our potential through the practice of yoga. Off the mat Scott spends lots of time with his partner and their dogs, enjoys running, biking, hiking and the downtime necessary to recover from all that. He gives much thanks to his teacher, JP Tamblyn-Sabo, for his wisdom, his mentorship and his passion for the practice.


Lauren is a “truth seeker”, Reiki Energy Therapist (level 1, 2 & 3) and a dedicated yoga teacher that endeavours to live the art of life. Her interest in learning how to live in a mindful, heart-centred way began at the Sivasoorya Divine School of Yoga in Kerala, India where Lauren rigorously studied under the Tantric Yogi Guru Raviji completing a 200 hour Yoga Alliance Hatha teacher training course. After India, Lauren continued her meditation practice and soon she became a regular Vipassana meditator going on 10 day long retreats in complete silence. After 3 years of teaching yoga Lauren returned to India for her second 200 hour Yoga Alliance teacher training, this time travelling to Mysore to learn the original Vinyasa method. She has brought the benefit of yoga to lives across the globe; from being the in-house yoga teacher for Royalton Resorts, Punta Cana to teaching locals in their homes during her time in India. Each experience has been a gift. Lauren is always excited to connect with new students, from all walks of life, to share in the sweetness of yoga.


Megan Marie Gates is a yoga teacher, spoken word artist and musician residing in Toronto. Her deep fascination with movement was seeded as a little girl through dance and the performing arts, which lead her to a passion for yoga; infusing these practices with sacred sound (music + mantra), free-form movement, mythology/storytelling and all things creative. Megan Marie is a proud graduate of Octopus Garden Yoga Centre’s 500 hr Yoga Teacher Training Program, 30 hr Restorative Training and a graduate from The Canadian College of Performing Arts in Victoria, BC. She is ever grateful for her on-going studies with her teacher Hali Schwartz.

Amanda - Teacher

Amanda fell in love with yoga for its ability to transform…transform your day, your mindset, your body, and your awareness overall. She teaches in an approachable, light-hearted manner; creating intelligent sequences that are fun and engaging yet challenging.
Having completed her initial training at Yoga Space in Toronto; Amanda credits her depth and understanding of the body and breath to her teachers, Kathryn Beet, Patricia White and Hali Schwartz. Amanda has also trained in Trauma Informed Yoga with David Emerson.
A keen believer in the body’s ability to heal itself, Amanda is pleased to offer Yoga, Reiki, and Thai Massage to assist others in restoring balance in their lives.

Carol - Teacher

Carol’s passion for bodywork began in 2001. Her holistic approach encompasses both shiatsu and massage therapy techniques. Rather than rushing clients in and out of the treatment space she is interested in finding then treating an issue, and working together to resolve it. She genuinely wants to address patients’ immediate concerns while being aware of ways to prevent future problems from occurring.

Kassandra - Teacher

With close to a decade of yoga practice under her belt, Kassandra has been inspired and supported by her teachers and mentors (official and unofficial) Ante and Felicia Pavlovic, Tracey Soghrati, Joshua Lewis, and Jennifer Slade. She has a 300+ hour yoga teacher training from Yoga Therapy Toronto, a 50+ hour Yin Yoga training from Tracey Soghrati Yoga, Chair Yoga and Trauma Sensitive Yoga certifications, in addition 10+ years of arts-based facilitation and teaching experience and 23+ years of contemporary and folk dance practice.

Kassandra is committed to making learning about the body, mind, and emotions accessible and enjoyable, and spreading awareness of the 24-hour applicability of yoga’s teachings. This practice and its many limbs—asana (physical postures), pranayama (breathwork), meditation, chanting/song/sounding, readings, working with the energy body, as well as social and personal observances (yama and niyama)—has surprised her by supporting her mental health and resiliency by allowing her to witness, admit to, and begin to accept all of her own darkness and light. This has had the pretty swell unplanned benefit of expanding her compassion for others by admitting that they are also in perpetual process, just like her. Now, in her teaching practice, Kassandra is committed to allowing her students the space and time to engage in their own process and self-activate their own healing by encouraging autonomy, insight, and self-acceptance.

Christine - Teacher

Christine uses yoga as her creative outlet to help others connect to their body, mind and breath. She began her wellness career over ten years ago as a massage therapist and found her way to the mat in 2007. Christine has completed several certifications with YYoga in Vancouver, which fueled her love for the foundations of yoga and how each and every body has something to gain from this practice. Her classes include an integrated focus on the poses of yoga as well as the community that is formed from practicing together. Students enjoy her refreshing approach to teaching – you can expect to challenge yourself yet smile and laugh along the way. Christine enjoys learning from those around her and watching her yoga journey continually grow and change.

Farley - Teacher

Farley came to yoga to work on his flexibility by suggestion from his Muay Thai Kickboxing trainer. Realizing that yoga is not only physically beneficial but also mentally therapeutic, Farley hopes to inspire others to find the same healing qualities from yoga.

Not only does Farley have an extensive background in Massage Therapy, but is also a graduate from Toronto’s Ahimsa Yoga Centre. Farley offers insight to his classes focusing on proper alignment and safety, while still challenging students and encouraging a sense of fun and excitement.

Tyler - Teacher

Through movement, Tyler challenges the stagnation of modern life. He believes strongly in the importance of cultivating creativity in yoga, and by doing so, nourishing an individual’s approach to movement. Tyler is a graduate of Breath’s 300 hour teacher training program, and is certified in yin/restorative yoga. He has also volunteered with SKETCH in the movement studio, taught kids yoga workshops, and developed Yoga for Cyclists. Tyler has been largely inspired by participation with Axis Syllabus, Diane Bruni, Micheal Stone and Kathryn Bruni.