Local wellness centre redefining how virtual is done with two new eight-week programs
By Jeff Morris
It was a vision that started with a Fire Starter Session.
“I was feeling burnout,” said Catie Clapp. “My body started giving up. I was so busy. I had an illness and then surgery. I was asking myself where I wanted to go in life.”
Catie, a teacher at South Carleton High School, and her sister Chris, a social worker, had the Fire Starter Session to look inside themselves to see what they really wanted to do. Their passion for health and wellness led them to one of Richmond’s newest and most unique businesses, Willow Wellness.
“We wanted a place where people could be seen, heard, and valued,” Catie said. “That’s the biggest piece.”
Willow Wellness is located at 5944 Perth Street in Richmond. The Clapp sisters thought it was a perfect location for their dream.
“There was nothing here in Richmond like this,” Catie said. “We asked ourselves, what’s stopping us from starting a wellness community here?”
Willow has a strong belief in the power of transforming the mind, body and spirit through breath, movement and community.
Catie Clapp has spent 20 years as a high school teacher helping youth find their way transitioning into adulthood. After over 300 hours of yoga teacher training, a year of professional life-coaching (ICF, PCC) training and then a year of breath and embodiment/somatic training, Catie believes everyone has the capacity to heal themselves, given access to tools that we already have within and given a safe space to “do the work”. Catie’s vulnerability, empathy, and understanding of the human experience helps others feel comfortable working through their own stress/tensions to feel more joy and freedom.
Chris Clapp holds a Masters Degree in Social Work and is a Registered Social Worker and Psychotherapist with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW). With over 20 years working in community health with a special focus on mental health and working with lgbtq+ communities, Chris has a passion for de-stigmatizing mental health and providing a safe, non-judgmental space for all people to discover their fulsome selves to heal, grow and thrive. Besides extensive crisis and suicide risk assessment experience, Chris has experience in Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), Somatic Experiencing, NeuroMeditation and is a Certified Intuitive Eating Counsellor.
As well, Chris gets excited about community building and helping teams thrive. As a Certified Master Facilitator in both Core Gift Discovery and Personality Dimensions, Chris supports folks to uncover their unique talents and skills and those of others they work alongside. Operating from an anti-oppressive, strength-based collaborative lens, Chris fundamentally believes in the healing that comes from the power of raw and real connections.
Willow offers a Yoga and Movement Studio with classes to suit all ages and abilities. They are also grateful to collaborate with over 15 Instructors to bring a variety of classes to community members. They offer Covid-safe classes in a small setting and are bringing them virtually to add increased accessibility for those at home. We offer classes that include BreathWork, Yoga Nidra, Hatha Yoga, Yin Yoga, Vinyasa, “Happy Hips” Yoga, Meditation, Nia Dance- and all classes have options for all bodies.
They also offer a dynamic team of in-person individualized services including osteopathy, physiotherapy and social work. They are pleased that their new Osteopathic Manual Practitioner, Brittney Perkins, is a local South Carleton graduate and is offering a vital holistic service that was missing from our community. As well, virtual services are available by their physiotherapist and social worker. Currently, they are seeking an “amazing” registered massage therapist as well as other holistic services.
“Most yoga classes in the western world focus on the postures, but that’s just one part of it,” Catie said. “There are seven other limbs to explore, which means going beyond the movement and moving further inside”.
Willow has a pair of eight-week programs that are returning in January due to popular demand.
The first is “The Nourished Woman”.
This program will enable you to learn to nourish yourself, tune into your body signals and break the cycle of chronic dieting. You can also learn how to tune into your body signals, break the cycle of chronic dieting and make peace with food and peace with your body.
Throughout this 8-week group program, rather than introducing yet more “rules” and restrictions into your life, they will invite you to get curious about the messaging we take in about food and exercise and to learn how to challenge those messages.
The other program is “From Burnout to Bliss”, which is a journey of reconnecting with your authentic self.
There is no better time than now to drop the “busy” from your life and just start “being”. Are you yearning for more ease, joy and fulfillment in your life? Learn how to add simple self care rituals to the top of your “TO DO” list and let go of the busy. Connect with a like-minded community who is yearning for the same.
While the courses are virtual, Willow is going far beyond the standard Zoom webinar that many businesses are using.
“We want to support people virtually,” Chris said. “We want to engage you and walk alongside you. We want to redefine what virtual is.”
The Willow Wellness approach to mental health is that it is a spectrum of mind, body and spirit. They challenge the traditional approach and wonder what would be possible if people stopped focusing on mental health as an illness that only affects our mind and started focusing on transforming their mind, body and spirit through movement, connection to breath, and fostering connection and community. Brene Brown calls this approach “whole-hearted” living.
“When it comes to mental health, it’s more than just psychotherapy and medication,” Chris said. “We want to remind you of the tools you may already have, tap in in a deeper way and expand the way you approach your own wellness, often in community with others. Social isolation is real and the ‘treatment’ is connection”.
Willow Wellness is also a place with a safe environment. They are committed to appreciating and standing up for the uniqueness of all of our identities, and are committed to anti-racism, anti-homophobia actions. They are passionate about celebrating all people with diverse sexual orientation and gender identity, race and culture, abilities, age, religion and are committed to ongoing learning and unlearning.
“It’s a place for inclusion,” Catie said. “Everyone sits at the table together and everyone has a voice and can be heard. It’s a place where you can be real, you can be raw, and you can come just as you are”.
In addition to the numerous programs and services offered by Willow, one thing planned for 2021 is the Willow Kitchen, which will include coffee and bites.
The Willow will be serving up our favourites from local businesses, including Danby’s Roadhouse in Richmond, Take Another Bite in Manotick and Strawberry Blonde Bakery in Kanata. There will also be Kombucha on Tap from Artizen in Perth and organic loose tea from the Maple Tea Company in Ottawa. There will also be smoothies and coffee available.
For more information on Willow Wellness in Richmond, visit their website at www.willowellness.ca and follow them on Instagram and Facebook. You can also call 613.362.6218 or email email@example.com.