Meet the Management Team
Sara Downing, Owner
Sara was raised by hippie artists and spent her early childhood playing on her fathers large sculptures and being surrounded by fruit trees in her family's garden in California. Back in Toronto she attended alternative schools and eventually opted out of the school system altogether at the age of 15. As a young person Sara was a little wild and rebellious, and also quite focused and responsible.
Sara chose the Roncesvalles neighbourhood over 2 decades ago to raise her family of 3 girls, who are all now young women. Sara has an open heart, a great sense of humour and she is the kind of person that sees the best in people. While studying Shiatsu in 2003, Sara envisioned the church basement she was renting for her practice as so much more. She negotiated a partnership with Roncesvalles United Church and founded The Village Healing Centre in 2004. Within a year this vision grew to include 2 floors of 18 offices, two studios, and over 40 wellness practitioners and instructors. This vision and brave commitment continued to grow when Sara decided to invest in the transformation and renovation of the large room on the middle floor into a yoga studio, recruiting the talent and community that has become Yoga Village today.
When she's not steering the ship at 240 Roncesvalles, you can find Sara enjoying an isolated get-away at her trailer in the countryside, organizing galas and fundraisers for the church, enjoying a cup of tea and a chat with friends, and serving as a group facilitator and peer support counsellor teaching DBT skills to parents of children living with borderline personality disorder.
Sara brings her great love for community and connection to the studio to help create the easy and welcoming vibe that you feel as soon as you enter.
She was certified to teach yoga in 2010, and has led classes and workshops in Philadelphia, New York, and Toronto. She has furthered her study by spending time in Southeast Asia studying asana, pranayama and meditation. Julie is currently studying Classical Osteopathy at The Canadian Academy of Osteopathy, and brings her intense study of functional anatomy, physiology and body mechanics to help students stay safe and within the barriers of their own bodies to avoid injury and reap the full benefits from yoga.
Julie was the yoga advisor at Yoga Village, and helped students navigate Village Yoga’s unique pay-what-you-choose payment scale. She was also the supervisor of the karma yogi volunteer base.
Melanie learned early that "home" and "community" were what you made them - and that we can be so much stronger when we bring our skills and passions together. Early struggles with health also became training grounds for navigating the health system, listening to the body's messages, and understanding resilience. This lead her naturally to an in-depth and life-long study of Health Science, reiki, yoga, meditation, divination, and a number of other healing modalities.
Melanie has tried her hand in a range of positions in the health, education, and psycho-spiritual sectors. After 20 years of counselling, community development, program design and system improvement, she has realized that all along, her work was rooted in a passion for the healing arts.
Now a mother of 2, Melanie continues to create communities of resilience, learning, and transformation through her family, work, and neighbourhood. Some of her career highlights have included coordinating a national benchmarking study, collaborating with native communities to implement traditional healing processes, and facilitating community health initiatives for a range of non-profit organizations across Canada. Current pursuits include co-founding a collaborative space for self- development & wellness professionals (Inner Arts Collective), and teaching Hand Analysis and Reiki (Kore Changes) and in the past, supporting Yoga Village as it's event coordinator.