Visiting yogi report: 3 Questions for Canada’s top Ashtangis
This weekend two of Toronto’s most beloved yoga teachers return to New York City for their annual residence at the Shala, where they’ll lead workshops on opening the hips and building stability in the shoulders (plus a teacher intensive), and teach two Mysore Ashtanga practices.
Ron Reid co-owns and his partner Marla Meenakshi Joy teaches at Downward Dog Yoga Centre, and together their known for their therapeutic, alignment-based approach. We caught up with them to find out what’s in store.
1. What can New York Ashtangis expect from your Mysore sessions?
RR: If you’re dealing with a challenging practice like Ashtanga, there are a lot of fundamentals. Students have to have a strong, stable foundation to work from, and getting people aligned is really important. We don’t sacrifice people to the practice, and we don’t have an agenda in pushing people forward. We want people to feel good in their practice and feel good about themselves when they leave.
MMJ: We’ll stop the train and take people off [by asking them to work at the wall or with props, or to break down component actions of an asana]. It’s almost deeper, more advanced work, and to awaken awareness like that can be challenging. We try to take out the hard parts and put in a lot of love and support.
2. One of your workshops focuses on the hips. Why are they such a tough area for so many of us?
RR: It’s sitting. Your chair is your best friend and your worst enemy. The hip flexors shorten, and when you lean back, the abs weaken. Also, the hip joint is a ball and socket, but we tend to treat it like a hinge. Yoga can help us break through those patterns, though it takes time.
3. Meenakshi, you’re also a shiatsu therapist. What’s the connection between yoga and shiatsu?
MMJ: Their ancient basis—Ayurveda and marma points, and Chinese medicine and meridians—is similar. Working with qi is the same as working with prana. People hold tension where there’s too much energy, so with yoga, we try to get you to balance your energy. With shiatsu, you have a more passive experience with the practitioner moving your energy for you. Both are focused on rebalancing energy. —Ann Abel
Mysore self-practice (all levels), at the Shala, Friday, May 4, 7-9:30 a.m. and Sunday, May 6, 8-9:45 a.m.; $25 (one day), $45 (both days).