Get to know us better
At Union Yoga + Wellness, it is our mission to offer yoga that is accessible, to honour and respect diversity, and to foster individual and collective well-being. To support our community, our pricing is sliding-scale.
We at Union Yoga respect the autonomy, land-rights, ecological conservatorship, teachings, world-views, traditions, ethics and visionary seven-generations planning of Canada's First Nations Peoples.
We acknowledge that the land we operate Union Yoga + Wellness on today is the traditional territory of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples and is now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. We also acknowledge that Toronto is covered by Treaty 13 signed with the Mississaugas of the Credit, and the Williams Treaty signed with multiple Mississaugas and Chippewa bands.
With credit and many thanks to torontoforall.ca
Union opened with the mandate: all are welcome
2017 – today
Anti-Oppression path paved w. staff trainings
2017 – 2018
All-Gender change stalls and restrooms were built
2019 – 2020
Scholarships, sliding-scale & subsidized pricing become the norm.
2020 – 2021
Online offerings improve accessibility to classes, trainings and more. Free Virtual Studio Access Program established.
ACCESSIBILITY & DIVERSITY
Sliding-scale rates — We offer sliding-scale pricing for nearly all of our passes, and strive for options that fit every budget. It is our pleasure to work with you to match a pass to your budget, and further discounted pricing is available prioritizing access for BIPOC and 2SLGBTQI+ folx as well as those on ODSP.
We believe that a safer space is created through a continual engagement with social issues, a willingness to learn, and aspirations to evolve. The Union team of staff and instructors are engaged in collective work to interrupt racism, homophobia, transphobia, and dismantle white supremacy.
As a part of this process, we would like to facilitate transparency with our larger community about the steps we have taken towards visioning and building an anti-oppressive space. We want to share our future plans, and we invite your feedback. We hope this openness spurs dialogue and helps the studio continue to address the issues that are most pertinent to the communities we serve in Toronto. Please don’t hesitate to share your feedback or visions for an inclusive yoga space on our contact form.
Anti-Oppression Initiative Timeline
Gender Identity & Trans Inclusivity
We strive to provide a space where all of our clients – including those who are gender non-conforming, Two-Spirit, non-binary, or trans – feel safe and welcome. The setup of our physical space was inherited from a previous business: we currently have two binary change rooms and showers. However, we have made changes to make Union more inclusive to trans and non-binary people, including adding four self-contained all gender changing stalls and creating two all gender washrooms. Everyone is free to use the washroom and change area of their choice.
All staff and management have participated in a training with the 519 on LGBTQ2S inclusivity, and we continue to prioritize learning how to best serve and support our LGBTQ2S clients.
August 2017: Addition of four self-contained all-gender changing stalls
March 2018: LGBTQ2S inclusivity training with The 519. Training mandatory for desk staff and management
March 2018: Gendered washrooms are made explicitly welcoming of trans people (signs read: “Trans folks welcome”)
December 2018: Parent & Baby Yoga series is made explicitly welcoming of gender non-conforming parents
Monthly Queer/Trans Yoga classes with Tobias Wiggins and Farley Tarn
September 2019: Queer/Trans Yoga classes scheduled weekly.
September 2019: Creation of two self-contained all-gender bathrooms.
July 2020: Management participated in online Trans Allyship workshop with Think Again
Anti-Racism & Intersectionality
Racism and cultural appropriation are rampant in the Western wellness industry and yoga is not exempt. Union’s leadership is engaged in a process of learning about, and addressing, systems of power that perpetuate racism and privilege whiteness. We seek to understand how we, as a Western yoga business, are complicit in systemic racism and colonization. By educating ourselves, we seek to minimize harm and to provide a space that is more inclusive, welcoming, and accessible to indigenous people and people of colour. We further believe that education must be matched with real action, and we have taken steps to de-centre whiteness, including providing scholarships for people of colour.
October 2018: Spiritual Activism workshop with Rachel Ricketts on anti-racism, inclusion, and cultural appropriation. Training mandatory for staff and teachers.
Fall 2018: Two scholarships awarded for March 2019 Yoga Teacher Training program. The goal of the scholarships is to address the significant underrepresentation of people of colour in the yoga industry. Piority was given to POC applicants.
Fall 2018 and ongoing: Our hiring practices aim to reflect the demographics of where the studio resides.
April 2018: Staff training on intersectionality in yoga spaces
March 2019: Commitment to offer 3 scholarships for BIPOC applicants annually for Teacher Training, and creation of BIPOC affinity mentorship group within training.
June 2020: Hired Diversity and Inclusion coordinator, Indu Vashist, and created accountability framework for receiving and responding to client complaints
July 2020: Online staff training with jamila malika
Spring & Summer 2020 – 50-50 membership fee split offered to Members facing financial hardship due to Covid-19, with the understanding that BIPOC populations were disproportionally and unjustly affected
October 2020: BIPOC-only class added to the drop-in schedule. Sliding scale registration and all funds directed to teachers.
November 2020: Free Virtual Studio Access Program shared ongoing free-access to on-demand classes with activist groups and organizations serving marginalized and under-served communities both locally and internationally.
Our space is on the second floor and is physically accessible by elevator. We have wide hallways, two accessible gendered washrooms, and one yoga studio (unheated) that is physically accessible. The larger heated studio has eight stairs down to its entrance with a handrail. The heated studio is warmed to 27-30 degrees for ‘warm’ classes, and roughly 35 degrees for ‘hot’ classes. In 2020, we made all classes, workshops, and trainings available at sliding scale. Below are some initiatives to make Union more accessible to people with disabilities and those with limited financial means.
Since Fall 2017: In partnership with LoveYourBrain, we offer free six week yoga courses, four times a year, for traumatic brain injury survivors and reduced rate drop-in classes for graduates of the course
Fall 2018 and earlier dates: six-week Chair Yoga series offered with Kassandra Prus. This class is available to anyone, including those with disabilities, those who are able bodied, and people wanting a gentle practice
October 2018: Chair Yoga Teacher Training with Kassandra Prus
Limited number sliding scale memberships available for folks who identify as being part of a marginalized community (POC, queer, trans, disabled) and have limited financial means
June 29th, 2019: Yoga for Every Body event with Dianne Bondy at Union
Fall 2019 + 2020: Chair and Therapeutic Yoga Teacher Training with Kassandra Prus
March 2020: During the pandemic, we offered to waive all cancellation fees / penalties + split Monthly Membership fees 50-50 for 6-months to offset the financial impact of Covid-19 on our community members.
November 2020: Union's new website launched in 2020 was designed to meet accessibility needs.
January 2021: expired loyalty points were recycled into a Community Care Program supporting low-income clients, members facing financial duress, and free access for neighourhood women's shelters
Consent & Trauma-Informed
As Tobias Wiggins wrote in a guest blog post for Union, “Western yoga spaces carry the taken-for-granted notion that adjustments are desirable […] Some people crave the deepening or alignment that can come from the steady and knowledgeable hands of an yoga instructor, while others – perhaps those whose have survived trauma, who are socially marginalized, or who live with chronic pain – might have more mixed feelings. In reality though, everyone’s desire to be touched can change day to day, and even from moment to moment.”
At Union, we believe in the right to bodily autonomy and the right to say “yes” or “no” and to change our minds at anytime, and have implemented the use of consent cards in all of our classes to reflect this ethos.
Trauma-Informed Yoga refers to yoga offered in a way that is sensitive to the needs of those who have survived trauma of any kind. Trauma affects up to 70% of people at some point in their lives and yoga has the potential to be a healing practice on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level. We feel a responsibility to provide basic training in trauma-informed yoga to our yoga teachers-in-training, and are working towards the goal of having all of our teachers trained as well. At present, more than half of Union teachers have had some trauma-related training.
Union’s Yoga Teacher Training includes mandatory one-day training in Trauma-Informed Yoga
August 2017: Creating a Culture of Consent workshop with Tobias Wiggins (mandatory all-staff training)
August 2017: Implementation of consent cards in all yoga and pilates classes
February, 2019: Yoga Teacher Training faculty training on intersectionality and anti-oppression
April, 2019: Staff training on intersectionality in yoga spaces
August 2019: Managers participating in Trauma-Informed Yoga Training
Annual trainings in Trauma-Informed Yoga, offered at sliding scale and with a scholarship option
Fall 2020: Eight Union instructor particpate in Blu Matter project’s 40-Hour Trauma Informed Training with David Emerson and others.
Information Transparency: In an effort to be more transparent, we have added symbols after our teachers’ names on the schedule indicating if they have training in Trauma Informed Yoga (T), if they play music in class (M), and if they training in pre-natal yoga (P)
Non-Discrimination Policy posted & enforced: Abusive, racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, or discriminatory language or behaviour of any kind will not be tolerated. We reserve the right to remove any patron creating an unsafe environment without refund.
COMMUNITY-CARE, FREE ACCESS PROGRAM, FUNDRAISING & CAUSES
We are passionate about giving back to our community, inside the studio and out.
In December 2020, we rolled out our Free Virtual Studio Access Program which offers ongoing access to on-demand classes to Toronto-based NGOs and shelters supporting underserved populations as well as equity advocacy groups, and First Nations organizations who are lobbying for respect for ecological protections and treaty rights Canada-wide. In January 2021, we extended this to an international Trans-support organization (primarily in the Western world).
ECO-FRIENDLY BUSINESS PRACTICES
We are conscious of our responsibility to future generations, and strive to honour and care for the ecosystems that support us.
BIPOC Yoga is a weekly offering exclusively for folx who identify as Black, Brown, Indigenous, or People of Colour, and is taught by a rotating roster of BIPOC instructors.
Students can expect a supportive environment with movement, breath work, and guided meditation. Book via the Full Schedule.
Come to breathe, move, and rest together in community. Exclusive spaces like this aim to create safer spaces, and are much needed in these turbulent times.
Sliding scale. No one to be turned away for lack of funds. Please contact us if you need further assistance to attend.
(*Note: Union passes on all funds collected to the instructors).