Map of Mount Pleasant Village

One sunny Saturday afternoon last October, my family and some good friends were strolling along the neighbourhood for the first annual Mt. Pleasant Village Family Fair. It was great to get out and see some of the new boutiques and various shops that have opened on the strip. One fabulous new find was Zen Beginnings, a wholeness centre that celebrated their grand opening that weekend.

Of the many services that they offer, what struck me was that they were promoting yoga for tots. My daughter had been wanting to pursue the practice more seriously for months.

I quickly signed her up for Kiddie Yoga and have watched as she has engaged in the classes and become more calm and reasonable at home.

On one of my recent visits to the centre, I sat down with Zen Beginnings owner Marina Zelenovic and asked her some serious questions about their services and how it all came about. Read on for what she had to say.

JW: So what is Zen Beginnings? How did the idea for the centre come about?  

MZ: As a mom of 2 young kids I wanted to create a centre that takes the needs of moms into account.  To this end we offer free babysitting to moms/caregivers coming in for a yoga class or having a treatment, as a way to take away the stress of finding childcare while they get some exercise, an often much-needed massage, or other holistic therapy session.  As moms we sometimes can’t do the things we need or want to do because it is too difficult to figure out what to do with our kids for an hour.  So that’s one side of it. The other is for our children. The alarming rates of children being diagnosed with allergies, various learning disabilities and obesity made me want to do something to help.  Zen Beginnings offers infant nutrition seminars to learn how, what and when to feed your little ones and ways in which to do it that will reduce stress and increase efficiency. We also have various holistic therapies for the younger set to help overcome ailments using supplements, homeopathics or lifestyle changes. Zen Beginnings classes, workshops and therapists are here to improve the health and wellbeing of kids who are much less healthy than they were even a decade ago.

JW: So what is it that makes Zen Beginnings different from other wellness centres?

MZ: First, our focus is on families – each and every member of your family!  We take a whole life approach – through natural therapies we can help people improve their health, through our workshops and seminars we show people how to live in healthful ‘zen’ ways and through our yoga classes we help people slow down and reflect. Most wellness centres only offer natural therapies, but really I believe that through workshops and seminars, good ‘health’ can be demystified, simplified and made more attainable, instead of overwhelming and confusing.  

JW: What are some classes/services that stand out and what are the benefits?

MZ: We offer a wide variety of services, from the typical: massage, acupuncture, naturopathy, nutrition, to the more obscure such as thai yoga massage, live blood analysis, Bowen & laser skin rejuvenation.  Our classes vary from standard yoga and pilates to pilates bootcamp, baby yoga and kids yoga.  For 2011 we are also starting family yoga classes so that parents can do something fun with their tween-age kids.

JW: What is the key thing that potential clients should know about Zen Beginnings?

MZ: We are here to help! We are open 7 days a week and offer many different services, classes and workshops to help you achieve a balanced lifestyle – whatever that means to you.

JW: You guys do Yoga for little ones. What are some of the benefits of this and is it safe?

MZ: Yoga for kids and babies is very safe.  One trend in recent years is to sign our kids up in numerous extracurricular programs, as a way to give them an edge in life. However, more and more research is emerging suggesting that kids are becoming anxious and depressed from as early as 8 years old—yoga is great in that it helps teach children at a tender age how to slow down, breath and decompress.  It can help our kids learn to manage their stress which is a very useful tool in our stressed out society. Also, as a side note, the kids really love it! It is fun and also helps them improve their listening skills, balance and flexibility.

JW: So what is your perspective on Yoga today? In the past, Yoga used to be primarily for a small niche market. Now it’s being practiced on pets, in mom and baby classes etc. What do you think has sparked this interest in people and why is it important?

MZ: I think that yoga used to be intimidating for people, but with our elevated stress levels, more people are turning to things that will help them relax and improve their ability to cope with stress – what better way to do so than while doing something that is also good for your mind and body? Yoga also teaches us to be more ‘mindful’ in the way we handle all other aspects of our lives, from eating, to relating with others and even ourselves. Too often we live on auto-pilot and tune out, whereas yoga helps us ‘tune in’.

I can say, that after several visits to Zen Beginnings, both myself and my daughter, who still participates in the weekly Children’s Yoga series, always enjoy our time there. From the warm, friendly service to the unending cups of tea, it truly is an experience in zen.

(Stay tuned for a piece on my first experience with Thai Yoga Massage at Zen Beginnings—coming soon).

For more information on Zen Beginnings and the various services that they offer, please visit their website or drop-in when you’re in the neighbourhood.

About The Author

Janelle Watkins
Editorial Director

Janelle Watkins is a citizen of the world who has lived both a charmed and stormy life. She has worked as a personal shopper, journalist, has done extensive work in marketing communications, and public relations. These experiences have seen her working alongside prominent leaders from the fashion, culinary, art and media worlds. This bon vivant would like to add some flair to her readers’ lives and loves to get their feedback. On everyday life she sums up, “Live life in your own style, be true to yourself – be distinct.” Favourite place in Toronto: Strolling around the Yonge/Eglinton and Mt. Pleasant Village neighbourhoods with a David’s Tea and two special little someones.

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2 Responses

  1. Maria Teixiera

    This soudns wonderful. I’ve been looking for a place to take my children for family Yoga and this Zen Beginnings isn’t too far from my home. You make the centre seem so calm and peaceful, so I will definitely give it a try!

    Thanks for recommending another great place.


  2. Jasmine Yeung

    Thank you for uncovering this hidden sanctuary, Janelle.! Zen Beginnings seems like a real stand-out from the city’s hundreds of yoga studios; I appreciate ZB’s holistic approach and the focus on making nutrition and wellness accessible for all ages! Another great discovery!


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