Toni Grates currently writes for various publications and blogs. Her very popular entrepreneurial blog “Namaste Bitches Blog” has followers from all over the world and receives an average of 1000 hits per day. Her most recent project “Stepsistahs”, a multi-voice site empowering and celebrating women living in blended families, will be launched in June 2013. She’s had articles published for Recovering Yogi and Elephant Journal and is a regular contributor for Canadian singer/songwriter Amy Sky’s mental health and mood hygiene project – www.aliveandawake.ca
From 2009-2010, Toni Grates was the head writer for the Canadian Television Comedy Series “Out There with Melissa DiMarco���. Previously, she wrote and produced several productions for the CNE’s “Kids��� World Stage” and the Niagara Falls Festival of Lights. Her one-woman show “A String of Broken Curling Irons”, was produced at the Egyptian Arena Theatre in Hollywood in 2004.
We went through a fair number of instructors in the first 4 months of our studio’s opening. Partly because we weren’t sure what we were looking for and there were so many varieties to choose from. Most of them did a month or two with us and then left — either because they lived too far from the studio, were headed abroad to study with a master teacher or couldn’t work for us unless they were guaranteed back-to-back classes for financial reasons.
A few left for more profound reasons: specifically, because they were not being honoured.
“Honour” is to a high-maintenance yogi as “exploring the craft” is to the high-maintenance actor. Honour in this context is not merely respect. Rather, it is otherworldly admiration and awe that result from all the books the instructor has read about the yoga sutras and the workshops he or she has paid hundreds of dollars to take with the decedents of the yoga gods.
Sanskrit words were out, as were all words synonymous with breathing. Yoga poses were also out, and anything involving the words “energy,” “om,” “lotus” or “chakra.”
“Toni Grates’ Yoga Emporium” seemed like a mouthful and “Real Deal Yoga” left me tongue tied, so we decided to keep it simple and name the studio after our geographical location. Village Yoga Canada* was born.
It was only a matter of weeks before we received a letter from Diane, the owner and founder of Village Yoga on the Jersey Shore.
Dear Village Yoga Canada,
I recently received an e-mail from one of your members thinking that we were you, which we’re not, because we’re us. We are Village Yoga, serving the residents of the Jersey Shore. You need to change your name, because this is going to get very confusing for our members and that’s not cool. We had the name first and I don’t want my members getting confused.
I’m hoping you’re going to be ethical about this.
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It was a Thursday afternoon in May and I needed a break from other things. So, I headed to Facebook to engage in mindless activity and look at pictures of rainbows and kittens with inspirational quotations. I logged on to find a message from someone named Angela… “ Hi, Toni. This isn’t the kind of e-mail you write everyday…”. I had laundry in the dryer. My tea water was boiling. And I had a sister I’d never heard of.
In addition to my full biological brother, 2 half-sisters and half-brother from my mom, step-sister from my step-dad and half-sister and half-brother from my father, there was now an Angela. This was a double whammy, since 2 years previously I had also learned of siblings I didn’t know I had – also through Facebook. (See half-sister and half-brother above.) Clearly, our biological father had made a lot of friends in the 1980s. Little did he know the fruits of his friendships would end up finding each other decades later, thanks to social media. If I ever needed a kidney, I’d be set.
As it turns out, Angela was conceived after my parents divorced. She’d never met our biological father. She only had a first and last name – the latter I still share with him. Being a writer herself, she did a search and found my blog. Based on an entry about growing up with a single mom, she thought there might be a chance we were related. A little more research and she found out we were siblings.