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Downward Dog Studio Origins

The Downward Dog Yoga Centre was brought into being by two of Toronto's most renowned yoga teachers. The beginnings were quite humble, when, after a period of studying and practicing in Mysore, India, Ron Reid returned to Toronto with the hope of creating a home for Ashtanga yoga where people could develop their practice in the city.  Ron rented a small space at the corner of College and Euclid, where he began leading regular Mysore-style classes. He was joined by Diane Bruni, who at the time was already a leading yoga instructor in the community.  Diane often came to practice, bringing in many new students.

 

With a growing number of enthusiastic practitioners, Ron and Diane started to play with the idea of opening their own studio which would foster the growing Ashtanga community in Toronto.  While searching for the ideal location, an auspicious moment occurred when they walked into an old building at the corner of Adelaide and Spadina. Climbing the stairs to the second floor, they were greeted by the familiar scent of incense burning in the hall, and learned that the building was home to The Toronto Tabla Ensemble and MDO Dance Community, our future neighbors. "When we first walked into the room of our original space, it was warm, with a pair of windows in the front that were arched across the top, resembling two eyes. Diane knelt down in front of the windows, taking it all in. Before long we realized we'd found our place," recalls Ron. This location, the original Downward Dog, was little more than a one room studio, with curtains to provide change rooms, washrooms down the hall and an informal payment box on a table as you walked in the front door. The class schedule was sparse, but always attracted a very dedicated following. From the beginning, classes were busy. It seemed to Ron and Diane that with each step, the next one appeared and over time, the studio they imagined began to take shape.

 

With increasing numbers, the need for more teachers became apparent, giving rise to the first Downward Dog Teacher Training program.  The course was designed to train others to teach at the studio using a holistic perspective that Ron and Diane had developed through their own practice and experience as instructors. "We wanted to bring people along in the style that we were teaching. I think from the very beginning, we were drawn to a form of teaching that was based upon principals of alignment, not pushing people, allowing people to develop a safe, solid foundation, and basically building a practice from the ground up," explains Ron.

 

At that time, Ron and Diane's greatest influences included Richard Freeman, Chuck Miller and Maty Ezraty. From the initial approach to teaching that guided the studio in its early years, to the dedicated and thorough exploration of yoga that Downward Dog is now known for, these senior teachers and the relationships they share with Ron and Diane have continually fueled the growth of the studio.

 

On the corner of Adelaide and Spadina, Downward Dog was blossoming, with each passing week bringing in more students than the week before.

 

Over the next three years, Downward Dog would establish itself as the place to practice yoga in Toronto.  Just as the need for a larger studio was becoming obvious, Diane took a walk along Queen Street West and came upon the fire-damaged space sitting atop what was then Future Bakery.  The raw, blank canvas left behind by the fire gave Ron and Diane the opportunity to design and re-build from scratch, along with the size and location that they felt would work best.

 

Since the doors first opened at 735 Queen Street West, Downward Dog has become a home to yoga students of all ages and levels.  Many of Canada's top teachers and studio owners have at one time or another come through the doors of Downward Dog to train under the guidance of Diane and Ron.  The studio has become a sought-after destination for students and guest instructors from abroad, who come in search of an exceptional experience. Downward Dog seeks to connect with all those interested in enhancing their lives through yoga.

 


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