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Our Ethics

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.

Land Acknowledgement

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

2014

Union opened

2016

YTT program was first established

2017

Anti-Oppression path paved w. staff trainings

2020

Silding-scale pricing  and online classes improved accessibility.

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. Safety & ConsentOur instructors promote mindfulness, self-awareness, and strength—they empower students to take charge of their own self-care. Consent-cards help you communicate whether you're open to hands-on assists, or prefer not to be disrupted during your in-studio class. All of our instructors have a passion for practicing yoga safely and are available to answer any questions or concerns you may have before, during, or after class. Classes for Everyone Union Yoga + Wellness offers many beginner-friendly classes as well as challenging and fitness-inspired class options. All classes are led by experienced instructors who provide detailed guidance and individual attention to ensure a positive and safe experience for everybody in the class. You don’t need to be able to touch your toes or put your leg behind your head to come to class. Yoga is so much more than flexibility. Your instructor will offer helpful props, modifications or an alternative postures throughout the class. Questions? Just ask! Our Space Our space is wheelchair and stroller accessible with an elevator that takes you up to our studio on the second floor. Our upper studio is wheelchair accessble, and there is a short flight of stairs to our lower studio space. We have all-gender change rooms that offer privacy, and we utilize consent cards in all of our yoga and Pilates class to empower students to decide for themselves if they are open to the possibility of hands-on adjustments from the instructor. DiversityAt Union Yoga + Wellness, we value diversity. We enforce a zero tolerance policy for discrimination based on age, gender identity, gender expression, sexuality, mental or physical disability, body type, race, religion or political belief. We respect all students’ motivation for practicing yoga – whether for fitness, spiritual awakening and healing, or anything else. All folx are welcome with open arms. Read more about our Anti-Oppression work in the our Anti-Oppression Timeline, below. All are welcome, but please be kind and respectful. Union Yoga + Wellness has a zero-tolerance policy for racist, homophobic, transphobic, discriminatory, or abusive behaviour. We reserve the right to ask clients to leave to support the safety of our community.




ANTI-OPPRESSION TIMELINE


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.

Initiatives:

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

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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.

Initiatives:

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

October 2020: BIPOC-only class added to the drop-in schedule. Sliding scale registration and all funds directed to teachers.

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Accessibility

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.

Initiatives:

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: Union's new website launched in 2020 was designed to meet accessibility needs.

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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.

Initiatives:

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.




FUNDRAISING & KARMA CAUSES


We are passionate about giving back to our community. We make monthly and annual donations to an array of local charitable organizations. We are open to your suggestions, if there is a cause that is close to your heart. Email us to nominate an organization for our next Karma cause. Past Karma causes include: Black Lives Matter – Toronto LoveYourBrain Foundation The New Leaf Yoga Foundation The 519 The Get Real Movement Egale Centre Rainbow Railroad Lifeline Syria Sistering Sick Kids Hospital Toronto Foundation for Student Success Covenant House Toronto Interval House The Daily Bread Food Bank Alexandra Park Neighbourhood Learning Centre (APNLC) The Children’s Storefront Camp Oochigeas




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. Union Yoga sources merchandise from local and Canadian-owned businesses, and uses eco-friendly cleaning products in our space. We continually strive to reduce our ecological footprint, and hope you will join us in this practice.




CODE OF ETHICS


(Coming soon)