Longtime downtown Kitchener yoga studio Queen Street Yoga has made a new home and a new name. Operating as The Branches at 9 Samuel St. near Frederick St., the studio’s owners are getting ready to reopen after months of pandemic-related lockdowns.
“I feel like everything has aligned in a pretty positive way. It was the right time to make a bunch of changes at once,” said Leena Miller Cressman, one of the co-owners at The Branches.
Cressman had been looking into developing the online offerings to reach new audiences before COVID-19. The pandemic and its rolling lockdowns were the sparks Cressman needed to get started.
“I was one of those people that thought this was going to be over in three weeks. I wasn’t ready to contemplate too many big changes,” Cressman said.
By the summer of 2020, some of her co-workers were starting to recognize that the return to normal would be delayed. That’s when discussions of getting out of their lease for the Queen St.t space started.
“That was in April 2020 and I wasn’t ready to go there yet. But by the end of summer and into the fall, that’s when we started to really think about it,” added Cressman.
At first, Cressman and her partners were looking to end their lease and focus on an online business model until the pandemic ended. But fate struck, and they were presented with a property that matched the direction their studio was heading.
“When we set foot in the house, we were just in love with the possibility of it. It has outdoor space, it’s right in the heart of a neighborhood, and we can run a commercial business there. It was a pretty neat opportunity to build a home for ourselves,” she said.
With a new space, the owners also chose a new name—The Branches—to represent their efforts to use yoga as a form of community care that can help tackle issues such as climate change and racism.
“It really felt like a huge opportunity, but also very daunting, because we have 16 years of name recognition in Kitchener-Waterloo,” said Cressman.
“We felt ready to say more clearly who we are and what our values are and we feel like ‘The Branches’ captures that more and can signify our ethics and our tone and our intention to our community that we want to be this welcoming place that reaches out and brings more people in.”
While the move to their new home is expanding their options for current members, their move online has reconnected them with members from the long history of Queen Street Yoga.
“We’ve been around for so long and there’s a lot of people who’ve been part of our community who have moved away and now they’ve reconnected with us. That’s been really special and also new folks joining us through word of mouth and through different things we’ve been doing online,” Cressman said.
You can find The Branches at their new home at 9 Samuel St. in Kitchener, or visit them online at thebranchesyoga.com.
Alex Kinsella is a freelance content marketer and writer based in Waterloo Region, Ontario. He's behind the TL;WR newsletter–Waterloo Region's weekly events newsletter. He's worked with some of Canada's most well known tech companies in roles including customer success, development, product management, PR, social media and marketing. Alex has contributed to publications including BetaKit, Grand Magazine and more.