The 1970s brought me to yoga and yoga to me.
I practiced, book open, on a carpeted floor. I was young, fairly limber, not strong or athletic; however most of the postures came to me easily. I stood on my head with too much ease, but was completely out of touch with myself. I had an entire jury in my cranium. I hated my body and my breath was always bated!
Around that time I was initiated into Transcendental Meditation with my own ʻsecretʼ mantra. The one word mantra stuck like old jello on the inner walls of my brain but I didnʼt actually like it, and though I desperately needed a compassionate look inwards, I only marginally kept the practice up. The physical practice of yoga showed up as a bracket around irregular jogging, coming and going willy-nilly.
As time went on the way it will, I had good and bad jobs, obtained a university degree, raised two sons (or was it the other way around?), art-making happened; the inner parts of my being evolved and a strong desire to align with who I wished to be and what I wanted my life to look like.
As a newly single woman in 2003, I was once again drawn to all things yoga. I started going to drop-in classes in Toronto. A while after that I began to spend several months a year in Ojai, California, and went to yoga studios there five or six times a week while beginning to venture into an at-home solo practice. The gentle delivery of the Ojai classes married to the rigour of some of my Toronto classes hooked me. I kept turning like a dreidel in spin, into my self, into the practice, into my body, my breath, my spirit.
I wanted to share this incredible grounded, alive and open feeling, as a facilitator. That led to my initial Yoga Teacher Certification (RYT) at Yogaspace in Toronto. Now with an additional 300-hour Advanced Teacher Training, plus other individual courses, I know I will keep right on going in my commitment to formal and informal study related to the practice.
In conjunction, my meditation practice started to show up and hang around for much longer each time. I read, examined, studied and sat. I have no answers but a keen desire to keep on cultivating mindfulness.
What a journey!! Little did I know, like all things (or is that all things worth doing…?) the more you know the less you know.
Here, do a back bend and have some humble pie.
Now I’m a woman who passionately believes in this healing practice, in its historic and new forms. I found myself and a sense of calling in the exploration of yoga and meditation, both on and off the mat. I confess to often wondering after leading a student, who got more out of that practice, them or me?!
“While I have attended yoga classes over the years, I was always somewhat skeptical of the benefits of the practice. Then I met Norma. She took the time to understand exactly what I was looking for, what I wanted to achieve and how much time I could give to the process. She developed a personal program to address the physical challenges I have as an avid gardener. She worked with my skill level, while always challenging me to do better. She also worked with my crazy schedule. In just over a year, my stiffness has subsided, my flexibility and balance greatly improved and I am so strong, that I am no longer frightened of a 50 lb. bag of soil.”
— Anne Avery
My approach to yoga is individualized. Your mind, your habits, your practice – as your body and your history is different from anyone elseʼs.
I come to yoga with reverence for its rich history coupled with a desire to make it accessible to real people in the world today, keeping our varied anatomies, genes and ages in mind, looking at where you are at now. Meeting you where you are. We are all aging, so I like to think of yoga in the full scope of its meaning for healthy aging.
I believe by inviting awareness inwards and by honouring where we are each at, we can connect to ourselves in ways we never imagined, easing physical and mental discomfort through the breath, the spirit, and the body work of this amazing practice.
My aim is to help create yoga for you, offer you quality instruction and not fit you into a prescribed yoga practice. We start with you. Your range of motion, your strength level. Your breath, your heart, your mind.
Looking to the tradition of Hatha Yoga, we learn to breathe, bringing the breath into the practice as sustenance for coming into and holding poses, finding stillness.
In a Flow or a more energetic practice, we transition from one asana (pose) to the next, integrating the breath while exploring movement, discovering and building resilience, and calming the mind. I think of yoga as ʻtime-inʼ!
I focus on release, breath, alignment, good posture, strengthening, lengthening, and meditation, leading to subtle shifts in perception and better-being.
If studios kind of scare you, turn you off, or make you uncomfortable for any reason, you are not alone.
You may be feeling weak as you heal from an injury, or have other health concerns, are fatigued and uncomfortable in your body, or simply not wanting to practice in a group.
Maybe itʼs just time and you want to try yoga. My desire is to offer a safe space for you to practice in.
Yoga is not a cure-all but as an adjunct therapy along with other prescribed treatment, it can ease your experience.
You know youʼre sitting slumped over your device or simply not ʻin your bodyʼ. Hey we are all stuck in our heads.
Private Sessions available in my home studio in downtown Toronto on Queen Street West.
Or I can bring yoga to you, your home or office.
I can also accommodate small groups of up to 4-5 people in my studio.
For a group in your home or workplace, we evaluate how many can comfortably fit into your space.
- Private sessions
- Corporate groups
- Friend and family groups
- Special events
- Sessions in English or French
“Norma is celebrating one year of leading weekly yoga sessions at The Globe and Mail’s head office. She is appreciated for ensuring that every class is fresh, rigorous and rejuvenating. Norma is welcoming to participants of all levels. She’s nourishing and non-judgemental. I highly recommend Norma!”
— Jane Avery
“It’s always a special treat when I get to see Norma on Tuesday for an hour. She helps me reenergize during a busy work week and helps me feel strong, relaxed and in tune with my body. She is truly a blessing and is filled with positive energy that she generously transfers to me.”
— Irene Dorosh, Account Manager, The Globe and Mail
“Last summer I held a creative retreat at my farm merging art projects, nature and various physical activities. I knew that I wanted to begin each day with yoga, and the poolside location was guaranteed to please the attendees, but finding an instructor talented enough to lead a large class with varying skill levels might be tough. When I met Norma I knew she was the right choice. Her energy, her understanding of the vibe I wanted and her attention to each guest’s abilities and needs made the yoga classes the star of the event. While I expected some to stay in bed, the 7:30 classes were packed. Several of the guests, including myself, have gone on to attend Norma’s classes in the city and have become devotees."
— Anne Avery
“I am 71 years old. When friends and colleagues got on the yoga bandwagon, like Madeleine (the children’s book character), I said pooh pooh. But now I am a convert. Thanks to Norma, who was gentle in her persuasion, I decided I should try. I realized when sitting on the floor with my grandchildren, I could hardly get up. Then I thought, I live alone and what would happen if I fell and could not get up. And so what I really think about yoga; it has increased my focus and my understanding that many parts make a whole. I am stronger, breathe deeper, have better balance, and I have learned to tune into myself. A big thank you to Norma.”
— Deborah Cotton
Soft rain, summer rain
Whispers from bushes, whispers from trees.
Oh, how lovely and full of blessing
To dream and be satisfied.
I was so long in the outer brightness,
I am not used to this upheaval:
Being at home in my own soul,
Never to be led elsewhere.
I want nothing, I long for nothing,
I hum gently the sounds of childhood,
And I reach home astounded
In the warm beauty of dreams.
Heart, how torn you are,
How blessed to plow down blindly,
To think nothing, to know nothing,
Only to breathe, only to feel.
— Herman Hesse
Thank you to Sarah K for reminding me of this poem
“I enjoy yoga with Norma every Tuesday lunchtime in the middle of my hectic day. Norma manages to get me to relax and let go of the daily workplace stresses. Along with this have come other benefits of increased energy, strength, balance and flexibility. Most of all, Norma has created a great yoga experience and a supportive positive environment, she is a true professional and very dedicated. This makes it very easy and enjoyable to attend the weekly lunchtime class.”
— Joanna Sperinck
“The outstanding thing that Norma brings to her teaching is an intuitive and sensitive awareness of her student. This has been especially helpful to me, coming back from an injury. By adapting, rather than imposing a preconceived format, she maximizes the benefits of the practice in a gentle and encouraging way.”
— Margaret Dyer