Meet the FoundersYSAC's Executive Team
Chantel Ehler, co-Founder and Executive Director of Operations
Strong. Happy. Egghead.
I enjoy connecting people. My favorite thing to do is to have a conversation with someone, and learn about their interests, and to then tap them into a group of people or an individual who identifies with that interest. If this turns into a business, mine is the business of relationships: to find someone who is in need of a service, and introduce them to someone who is providing that service.
This is how the Yoga Service and Accessibility Canada started.
When I was running a yoga teacher training program, I kept hitting walls and limitations around what a yoga teacher training truly provides, and I found it lacking. Once I learned about the Yoga Service Council, and Accessible Yoga, I became passionate about sharing their amazing work, and dedicating myself to serving the broader Canadian landscape. These organizations are US based, and needing to do work that had a uniquely Canadian voice is something I discovered was not only desired, but also needed.
In the autumn of 2016, I had the great fortune to meet and work with both Carol Horton and Dianne Bondy. These two women were dedicated to really important work, and our conversations affirmed my interest in creating something beyond “just another yoga teacher training”. I knew something needed to be done about spreading the work of these two great US organizations. In January of 2017, Dianne kindly introduced me to Jivana Heyman of Accessible Yoga. Through the work of bringing his organization to Canada for the first International Conference, I met my future business partner, Katie Juelson.
I do seek community, and with Katie we decided to make a community that aligned with the ideals of accessibility, diversity and sustainability. Our desire to work with this last concept, Sustainability, is the prime mover of what propels the organization forward.
Come join me in Yoga Service and Accessibility Canada. Together we can undertake work that is the most challenging and the most rewarding.
Katie Juelson, co-Founder and Executive Director of Development
Fearless. Gregarious. Wise.
“We Know What We Are, but Know Not What We May Be”-Shakespeare
In 2017 I started teaching yoga to high performance soccer teams, and became Canada’s National Para Soccer Team’s yoga trainer. In this experience I learned to a higher degree how yoga is lacking accessibility in Canada.
Providing accessible yoga is my core mission as a yoga teacher. In 2017 I became an ambassador with accessible yoga to help grow accessible yoga in Canada. I started to volunteer with Accessible Yoga, a global non-profit, and was a member of the Logistical Support team to bring the first ever Accessible Yoga Conference to Toronto in 2018.
Through the work of bringing this organization to Canada for the first International Conference, I met my future business partner, Chantel Ehler. Together we decided to make a community that aligned with the ideals of accessibility, diversity and sustainability. Our desire to work with this last concept, Sustainability, is the prime mover of what propels the organization forward.
I am driven to support those who wish to expand access to the practices of Yoga for people with disabilities, chronic illness, seniors, and for anyone who doesn’t feel comfortable in a regular yoga class.
You can also check out my other work – Seed of Life Living. The Seed of Life represents the seven stages, steps, or days of creation, and can be found in all major religions and most ancient cultures. I use the 7 stages throughout my classes and teachings through chakras and anatomy, in a modern, and functional way that can be personalized for each individual student in a personal or class setting.
I am also the co-director of Amara Vidya Yoga, a publishing and online yoga course website.
Come join me in Yoga Service and Accessibility Canada. Together we can undertake work that is the most challenging and the most rewarding.
Meet the Board of Yoga Service and Accessibility CanadaYSAC's Policy Directors
Carolyn Harding, Chair of the Board
Community Builder. Pioneer. Adventurer.
I loved my first yoga teacher training in Sivananda yoga. My next full teacher training was in Amara Vidya yoga, and through this work I met Chantel Ehler. We both live and own businesses in the small tourist resort town of Gananoque, in the Thousand Islands region of Canada. When she invited me to volunteer for the first International Accessible Yoga Conference in Toronto, I could sense she was building up to something. Through this I had the wonderful opportunity to meet and become acquainted with Katie Juelson, and my suspicion that something big was brewing only grew watching those two women work tirelessly with the organization. So when Chantel approached me to accept the Chair position, I was very excited to participate. She and I have discussed our mutual desire of Canadian yoga to be supported and championed. I am thrilled to have an opportunity to share this important work with others in the National forum.
I have served on Councils and Boards in the past, and currently serve the Business Improvement Area of Gananoque. I have also worked at Saint Lawrence College, and have assisted Aveda with key Canadian marketing initiatives. I am a supporter of many different types of social initiatives, working to improve conditions of women, children and the elderly. I am passionate about connecting people to better services in rural areas.
I know I’m far from finished, every week there is more information coming from all directions. What I’ve learned on this journey to authenticity is to keep an open mind and continue to integrate knowledge along the way and to remain humble. Can I call myself an expert? I think not, but definitely an avid student for life.
Stacy Uschner, Vice Chair
Designer. Cultivator. Magnetic.
I graduated from Trent University from Marketing and Consumer Culture. I have worked with Peterborough Utilities in their events and marketing department and with Peterborough Distribution as a Conservation Marketing Assistant.
I am not a yoga teacher, however I have a strong interest as a personal practitioner, and I love working in the nonprofit sector. Katie and I have been friends for a number of years, so when she approached me to serve on this Board, I was excited to offer some of my background and assistance in this fascinating field.
I look forward to this amazing service and learning about the future sustainability of Yoga in Canada.
Sheelah Pepper, Secretary
Joyful. Innovator. Carebear.
I created AdaptAbility in Toronto to serve children and youth with developmental, learning, intellectual and physical disabilities. I work with others to offer programs that support, encourage and develop physical, emotional, social and cognitive well-being.
My business and passion grew from wanting to merge the joy and playfulness of ‘moi’ with yoga’s therapeutic benefits. Translation: I wanted to have fun, laugh and play while helping others.
So, I found myself completing my Rainbow Kids Yoga certification and then my 200 hour YTT certification. It was the starting point to this masterpiece, but the journey continues. As a lifelong learner, I needed more! More education, more information, more excitement! So, I became a student (again) with Georgian College in Therapeutic Recreation and in Fall 2018 I’ll be working with Kinark Outdoor Center to complete my certification. Additionally, I completed my Autism Spectrum Disorder Certificate from Kerry’s Place and have worked, in various roles, with individuals of different abilities for almost a decade.
My journey has now led me here and I am thrilled to join the other Board of Directors to grow this important work of sustainable programming for vulnerable sectors in Canada.
Teresa Missen, Treasurer
Enigmatic. Visionary. Organizer.
I love how yoga can bring me back to my body. I work hard and I party hard, and yoga is my touchstone; my balm. I moved to Gananoque to be closer to my family, and take part in this great adventure we call yoga together. I travel, I curl, I entertain. My house is my base, and I put my years of work as an artist, a teacher, and a floral designer into my sanctuary. I look forward to the next book to read, the next lecture to attend, and the next CBC radio discussion. I love to learn and engage with the world around me.
I stay true to my Kripalu teaching, and through that, I managed to connect deeply with other highly influential teachers, merging and integrating them into my Kripalu style. I have trained under Judith Lasater, Paul Grilley, Bernie Clark, and many others.
My background is a mixed bag: computer programming, book keeping, Early Childhood Education and Fine Art. As a single mother, one learns to quickly find ways to build life skills in order to manage. In my work, I ran key development initiatives in a large daycare network, and worked with researchers to develop standards and scope of practice for educators in Early Childhood development in the 1980s. I ran two different daycare centres where I was tasked with fiscal accountability and management in struggling areas of Toronto. I also was a college instructor for Early Childhood Education at Centennial College. I am passionate about advocating for the rights of children, especially those who require adaptation for challenges they may face.
Shailla Vaidya, National Research Councillor
Seeker. Trail Blazer. Compassionate.
For over 10 years, I practiced Family and Emergency Medicine. From Canada’s isolated First Nation communities to working with street involved youth in the inner city of Toronto, I saw first hand the effects of stress, poor nutrition, and lifestyle factors on my patients’ health. Working in a dysfunctional system, I too experienced the effects of stress on myself!
Hoping to improve how we practice medicine, I pursued a Master’s in Public Health at Harvard. I learned from many world leaders innovating change. Inspired, I returned home to lead health care teams to improve safety, access, and deliver more effective, patient-centred care. We also established medical group visits to increase social connection and peer support. But leading change was not easy. I learned a lot about people, politics and power. As the stress built up, I strengthened my own yoga practice. I also began to teach my stressed out patients the same techniques I was employing in my life – to their benefit!
Despite my hard work, life handed me a few lemons and I knew it was time to make lemonade. After slogging away in my medical career, I was completely burned out. Thankfully, my yoga practice was helping me to restore. Wanting to go deeper into my practice, I took the opportunity to further my studies. I travelled to India to study with the Mohans of Svastha Yoga and Ayurveda, in the tradition of Krishnamacharya. I re-learned many of the traditions I had been taught in my younger days, healing myself, so I could get back to healing others. I am a certified Yoga Teacher and Therapist.
Now, my focus is to help others energy and vitality. I opened the Mind-Body Medicine for Stress Resilience in Toronto, Canada. I work to innovate Primary Health Care Delivery, Access, and Safety. I have also served as an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Family and Community Medicine at McMaster University, and the University of Toronto.
Dr. Vaidya is a member in good standing of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO), the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC), and the Medical Psychotherapy Association of Canada (MDPAC). She is also a Certificant of the International Asssociation of Yoga Therapists (C-IAYT) and a Trained Teacher of Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC).
Tobias Wiggins, National Research Councillor
Mentor. Pathfinder. Equanimous.
I am a PhD candidate, consultant, and social justice advocate in Toronto, Ontario. In the department of Gender, Feminist, and Women’s Studies at York University, I teach and write on interdisciplinary topics relating to sexuality, gender, race and racism, dis/ability, and colonization. My dissertation research explores contemporary issues of transgender identity and mental health. I also work in the Toronto community, both independently and for LBGTQ2+ organizations like the Sherbourne Health Centre, developing various anti-oppression workshops, trainings, and health support groups.
I have been practicing yoga for 17 years, and was recently awarded the Yoga Alliance “Aspiring Yoga Teacher Scholarship” for my leadership and service to local yoga communities. In 2014, I produced the open-access video You Are Here: Exploring Yoga and the Impacts of Cultural Appropriation, and I am actively involved in several studio-based anti-oppression yoga initiatives. You can find me at https://www.tobywiggins.com or on Twitter @wigginstobias.
Judith Mintz, National Research Councillor
Academic. Community Builder. Visionary.
I am Judith Mintz. I’m currently working on my PhD at York University’s School of Gender, Feminist and Women’s Studies, and my studies focus on the intersections of gender, race and class in yoga cultures. I hold a Masters degree in Canadian and Indigenous Studies from Trent University, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Visual Arts) from York U.
There were fifteen years between my B.F.A. and my Masters degrees. For the first few years following my B.F.A., I worked as a non-profit arts administrator for Toronto-based artist run centres and theatre companies. The short version of what happened during the rest of the time is that I became fascinated with yoga, and yoga and buddhist philosophy. After an artist residency at the Visual Arts Centre of Clarington in Ontario, I decided to follow that passion and become a shiatsu therapist and yoga instructor. Well, it wasn’t quite as automatic as all that. But I’ll spare myself the task of writing that part of the story, and my dear readers that task of reading it. I threw myself onto the holistic lifestyle path and devoted myself to studying Ayurveda and Macrobiotics in addition to hatha yoga, yoga philosophy, and shiatsu.
As a person who identifies as what I call a “conscious parent,” I make it my purpose to write critically about my experiences as a mother. As Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn (1997) write, “to parent consciously requires that we engage in an inner work on ourselves as well as in the outer work of nurturing and caring for our children.” (14)
Upon returning to academics as a grad student in 2009, I focused my studies on representations of midwifery through historical fiction. I was going to be a motherhood scholar, but then, once I started my PhD, yoga came calling again. And so here I am, integrating all of these things. And more.