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Queer and trans movement series fosters solidarity Christopher Bourke and Ritual Island provide a queer and trans movement series

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Graphic C/O Robin Lamarr

When yoga instructor Christopher Bourke began a queer and trans yoga class at Andrea Soos Yoga Studio in Dundas, a consistent piece of feedback he kept hearing was that it wasn’t accessible due to its location. Many current and prospective attendees were hoping for a yoga series downtown.

Bourke began to think about solving this problem and that’s when he crossed paths with Robin Lamarr of movement and wellness collective Ritual Island. Together they collaborated to bring his queer and trans yoga classes to the most bustling part of the city.

The result was Q+T Solidarity Moves, a beginner friendly queer and trans strength, mobility and restorative movement series at Redchurch Café and Gallery on King Street East. The $15 one-hour class — or $40 for all four classes — is taking place at 3 p.m. every Sunday from Nov. 18 to Dec. 9.

Like with other Ritual Island classes, Q+T Solidarity Moves intends to be enjoyable and inclusive. By taking the practice outside of a yoga studio and promoting an accepting environment, the class attracts individuals who don’t feel represented in traditional yoga spaces.

“There is just a vulnerability around… yoga wear or… being in those spaces and not feeling comfortable to be in your body… I’ve had people come to me in previous classes who aren’t out at work in terms of their gender presentation or their sexual identity. So it’s just nice for them to come to a space where they can actually be who they want to be,” Bourke explained.

As the name suggests, solidarity is a pillar upon which the class is built. Attending provides participants with a free coffee or tea after the class or a 25 per cent off discount to a lunch up to $10. Bourke intends to hang around at the cafe after the classes to mingle with any participants who would like to socialize and meet new people.

Bourke likes that the class is providing another venue and opportunity for socialization following the closing of Hamilton’s LBGTQ2S+ bar, Embassy. On the other hand, socialization is not expected or obligatory and Bourke welcomes people to come even if they want to leave right after the class.

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monday mini movement magic – alliterations always accentuate! . . . I've been working on my hip joints and getting to know them personally – they're both unique! Why am I doing this? Mostly because my back and pelvis have been picking up the slack (and suffering!) where my hip sockets are tight, limited and weak. And I know I'm not alone. . . . A mini series: 1. make contact using something. Massage the tissue around the hip, butt and side butt. Most people use massage balls but frankly I find the intensity of sensation too much sometimes, so something softer less dense feels nice. Here I use a soft ball, a smaller dense one, or a tennis ball. Do both sides! 2. as best you can FEEL into the sensation and get a SENSE of what the tissues feel like there 3. hold that awareness 4. lying on your back, knees bent, feet on floor, gently open and close legs like a book cover. let the movement initiate from the hip socket – pay attention! 5. What do ya notice? One leg moves faster than the other? the pelvis rocks and braces when the legs open or close? you don't feel anything at all? Just take note. 6. See if you can do the movement without the rocking, bracing etc. Maybe you only move an inch. That's OK! 7. Try it out with some more complexity. Tree pose [last photo]! See what happens when ya rotate the hip there? . . . The name of the game is getting to know your hip and FEELING. Not going anywhere fancy or elaborate – just first date awkward / small talk the shit out of your hip socket until your feel like there's a connection. 🌹💙 . . . #mondays #movement #yoga #mindfulness #mindful #mindfulmovement #yogaforEVERYbody #selfcare #selfcompassion #gettoknowyou #hamont #hamilton

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Bourke believes in the healing power of being and moving together as a community. The strength built during the class will be connected to the strength needed to face one’s day-to-day challenges.

I wanted it to be very purposeful from the beginning that we’re coming together and the intention behind what we’re doing isn’t just to do movement, it’s to integrate the skill that you get from movement to build our solidarity as a community… and then… actually use the resources that we get in that space to do work outside,” Bourke explained.

Bourke is leading the charge on this work by donating his proceeds from the classes to Rainbow Railroad, a charity that helps LGBTQ2S+ individuals escape persecution and violence in one of the 71 countries around the world where being LGBTQ2S+ is still criminalized.

Bourke chose the charity in light of the recent crackdown of LGBTQ2S+ individuals in Tanzania, which is personal to him as he has friends living there. He also wanted to donate to Rainbow Railroad as they are in the midst of their #60in60 Campaign to raise $600 000 to save 60 lives in the final 60 days of 2018.

In this way, Q+T Solidarity Moves aims to stand in solidarity with people all over the world. Yet despite those heavy undertones, the movement series will definitely be light-hearted and fun, with a dash of Bourke’s humour and Robyn’s dance-pop tracks playing in the background.

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