880 Lockinvar
Gabriola Island, British Columbia

Give a brief bio about yourself and/or your studio. I am Maalaa of KIDS’ YOGA NOW. Here I meet with my fellow Island Yogis — Gabriolans of all ages. Kids’ Yoga is a way to breathe with kids…..into minds, hearts, and bodies.  We all know what a breath of fresh air feels like… it is always welcome.  Yoga brings that fresh air feeling to all parts of us… enlivening, encouraging, empowering and caring.  Kids’ Yoga lights up our world!.

What styles of yoga you teach? / Do you or your studio specialize in one? The strongest influence in my personal practice is Vijnana Yoga, which integrates Dhyaana, (meditation), Praanayama (breath awareness), and Aasana (postural form) into one cohesive vision and expression through body/mind awareness. I also have strong affiliations with Iyengar, Ashtanga, and Sivananda Yoga teachings and training, as well as 10 yrs immersion in India, living and imbibing the essence of Yoga at a meditation hermitage in the Himalayas. All of these influence my teaching, which is about making Yoga a friend and companion in health, happiness and well being for the practitioner in their daily life.

What makes your teaching or studio unique? One very unusual aspect of my studio is that kids form half of my Yoga population. I have always been attracted to their freshness and freedom and feel drawn to encourage them to notice and honor the inner being. This focus on children…saying it for kids…. playing at Yoga through its timeless disciplines and relevance to our lives today, has brought a freshness and authenticity to my yoga life. Also, my Yoga practice is irrigated by my love of chanting, music and song. My guitar and tamboura join me in sharing Bhajan and the chanting of the Sutras with my students to facilitate meditation and surrender and generate joy.

Do you or your studio provide other services other than yoga? Although many of the things that happen here are under the auspices of Yoga, I do hold special events here such as chanting reunions, community events, and musical concerts which may embrace the Yoga theme but extend beyond its borders. My unique specialty has evolved into the Kids’ Yoga Teacher Trainings that I offer throughout Canada, as well as chanting events and Yoga Philosophy teachings.

What is your favorite yoga posture? And why? I am drawn to 2 favourites that come to mind here. One is Padmaasana, for it stabilizes the Aasan (seat) as I sit in meditation and allows the spine to center and ascend out that firm grounding, opening the crown or Sahasrara to the sky. The second is Adho Mukha Vrikshaasana, (the handstand or literally the face-down tree). I love to work on balancing on my hands, and still need the wall to do it. Even though I have been working on this pose for 3 years and it still eludes me, the benefits of inhabiting and strengthening my arms, back and shoulder muscles, and the joy of the experience are exhilarating and attractive.

Who is your favorite yoga teacher? I have a few favourite teachers, but it is clearly Gioia Irwin who is the role model for them all. The others are her excellent students who are all teaching the Vijnana method.

How long have you been doing yoga? I started Yoga as a young girl when my mum and dad brought my sister and I to the Sivananda Center in Montreal, my original home. Swami Vishnudevananda was my first teacher, and Swami Radha (Yashodhara Ashram) taught me my first breathing exercises. I was 4 years old at the time. That makes 54 years that Yoga has been in my life. The actual doing of Yoga would be at least 30 years.

How long has your studio been around? My studio has been here since 2004