Work, Play and a Certain Come – What – May

by Monica Voss

Getting into the body is exactly what Monica Voss intends to do. She does it deliberately, repetitively, as she chooses her words, observant of her students’ abilities, the tenor of the - room and the pacing of her exercises. But moreover, Monica’s class enables a deliberate blurring of the categories that we use to organize our everyday lives: she stirs up the concepts of work and play, drawing together physical structure, creative expression and a certain “come-what-may.”

In our conversation, she recounts not just the vivid, eccentric personalities of teachers whose lives ...
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Love Where You Are

by Monica Voss

One question I have in this predicament called human life is how to thrive in the environment we find ourselves inhabiting. Some people struggle to feel any degree of peace within a "concrete and clay" world dominated by traffic, noise and news of violence. Some live in a quieter, more natural place, but feel isolated, lonely or bored.

For some of us, finding or creating beautiful surroundings is a priority. Daily, I am thankful for the garden I can get out into, rustle through, listen to, or at ...
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Simple Solutions

by Tama Soble

I have been thinking about Francesca quite a bit lately. Francesca (not her real name) was a private student for about two years. I saw her twice a week for about an hour each session. I was part of a comprehensive health care team brought together to help her manage and recover from physical injuries and PTSD caused by a car accident. In addition to my sessions with Francesca, I was involved in many phone conversations and team meetings about her progress.

When we first met, Francesca was in a great deal ...
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Lesson in Freedom

The teaching of Vanda Scaravelli, friend and pupil of Krishnamurti, Iyengar and Desikachar

by Emina Cevro Vukovic

If a film director wanted to make a historic film on the fascinating first steps of European yoga, I would suggest to tell the story of Vanda Scaravelli. The first scene would show Vanda, young and very beautiful, driving her Lancia Flaminia in the Tuscan hills around Florence next to the handsome J. K. Krishnamurti, an afficionado of automobiles. I imagine they do not talk much, rather, they surround themselves by the silence that unites two people in ...
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The How and Why of Pranayama with Monica Voss

Pranayama is often translated and understood as a method to control the breath. In this video, Monica Voss of Esther Myers Yoga in Toronto points out that viewing pranayama as a means to control the breath can actually be a source of stress and anxiety. "We were born, and we began to breathe, and nobody needed to teach us." Join Monica on an exploration of pranayama, what it is, what it isn't and why it's easier to practice than you might think.

Pranayama: Breathing Exercises from Toronto Body Mind on Vimeo.

...
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Yoga for Anxiety video with Tama Soble

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health issues in Canada according to the 2006 Community Health Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing from Statistics Canada. In this video, Tama Soble of Esther Myers' Yoga Studio discusses the natural causes of anxiety and how yoga can help establish and maintain a balance between anxiety and relaxation.

Yoga for Anxiety from Toronto Body Mind on Vimeo.

While anxiety is a natural and necessary part of our life, the stresses of urban living can lead to heightened levels of anxiety and the suppression of ...
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Yoga for the Pregnant Woman with Monica Voss

“The pregnant body is changing if not daily, then sometimes weekly, and certainly monthly. Those changes can be profound, they can bring up structural stress or postural stress, and they can bring up a lot of strong emotion. And quiet time for processing those emotions and for releasing that postural stress is so important.” Monica Voss

Nine months might seem like a substantial chunk of time, but for a pregnant woman, they can fly by in a whoosh of excitement, anticipation, worry and joy. With everything from changing hormones to increased appetite, pregnancy incurs ...
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Empowering Practices For Anxiety

by Tama Soble

We live in stressful times, and we literally embody the experience of our lives. This embodiment often manifests itself through habituated patterns of tension. These patterns become hardwired into our nervous systems after years of repetitive triggering of the startle reflex, also called the fight or flight response. When the startle reflex is triggered our systems are flooded with adrenalin. If this occurs too frequently, we can get into a cycle of over reacting physically, emotionally and psychologically to stressful situations.

There are many therapies available to manage chronic stress and anxiety ...
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Follow your own lead

by Monica Voss

It seems these days in Toronto, and possibly elsewhere (although I have not heard it expressed when I teach in Canada, in the US or in the UK) that the study of Patanjali is being elevated and Hatha Yoga, unless accompanied by some recognition of the Yoga Sutras, denigrated. This hierarchical attitude was very much in evidence last year during the roundtable discussions at Yoga Festival Toronto in August, 2008, and again in May, 2009, during the "Yoga and Death" off-season roundtable.

The messages seem to be that:

Reforming – A woman overcomes chronic illness & heals her body with the sustaining power of yoga

by Monica Voss

Breathing, growing roots and letting go have sustained my body through physical life changes – pregnancy, childbirth, menopause – and my mind during parenting, working and being in relationships. Yoga fosters my imagination, offers me the opportunity to try to understand the mind, helps me to connect with the rhythms of nature. It brings me physical pleasure, comfort in my own skin, emotional security, and supports my hopes, goals and dreams.

My Hatha Yoga practice and teaching are based on three principles learned from Vanda Scaravelli, my teacher for twelve years, and ...
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Yoga for Anxiety – Interview with Tama Soble

Melissa West: Tama, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to yoga?

Tama Soble: I first came to yoga when I was dancing. I was rehearsing and touring and my body was under quite a bit of stress. I was also under psychological stress from being on the road and from the pressures of performing. One of my co-dancers in the company had found Esther Myers' yoga classes and she felt that taking yoga would be good for everyone in the company. I went to check it out and from ...
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Yoga for the Thinking Body

by Monica Voss

I am often asked what style of yoga I teach. Since there is no short answer to this question, and I have the forum and opportunity here, I will attempt to tell the story of my longtime involvement with yoga.

Primarily, I was and still am inspired by the teaching of Vanda Scaravelli who lived in Fiesole, just outside Florence Italy, and passed away in 1999. More than anyone else, she spoke to my essential creativity and stirred my imagination. Vanda was introduced to the yoga postures by B.K.S. Iyengar in the ...
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Teaching Creative Engagement

by Monica Voss

During teacher training and development workshops teachers often ask how to present a philosophy of autonomy and encourage students to take on and ultimately take over their own yoga practice. These are exciting positive questions especially in the yoga world today where there seems to be a dependence on the teacher for an "experience" of yoga, but few guidelines on how to practise creatively and productively alone.

Originally the transmission of yoga theory was through personalized curriculum. Teachers taught each student individually and advised on all areas of their development. Times have ...
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Eulogy for Esther

by Monica Voss

I met Esther Myers in July 1978 at the insistence of my friend Helen Kohl. Helen urged me to try yoga with this specific teacher, Esther Myers, because she was exacting, precise, she understood form, she understood the body, she was incisive and perceptive. She had an expert eye and a penetrating touch. I had experience in various movement modalities, but not yoga.

I found Esther's approach to be relentlessly logical and intelligent. She was forever analyzing, examining, synthesizing. She was on a search for self awareness and I happily joined that ...
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