private yoga instruction connecticut & new york


I was terrified of practicing Ashtanga because the series was intimidating and physically challenging, but I was very drawn to the idea of a setting where the main focus is on breath and individual practice. The fact that one of the teachers was in his sixties and still practicing gave me hope, plus he was very encouraging.

For years, I have suffered from pain and occasional muscle spasms in my back. I was born with mild Spina Bifida. I am prone to lower back issues, because my Spina Bifida is right above my sacrum. With my back being a source of vulnerability for me in my practice, I was fortunate to find such compassionate and knowledgeable teachers to study with, Gary and Melissa Margolin: previous assistants to two of the most influential Ashtanga teachers in the U.S.; Chuck Miller and Maty Ezraty.

I studied with Melissa and Gary in a Mysore style class, (Mysore is a way to practice the Ashtanga vinyasa method in a group setting, with individual attention).  Both Melissa and Gary teach and practice Ashtanga with emphasis on alignment, therapeutics and, most importantly, with insight. The Mysore environment immediately felt like home. It is where I saw true physical therapy being practiced, and where I felt safe to practice despite any injury I was feeling. I always left class feeling better than I had entered, and feeling like I was standing taller.

With my introduction to Ashtanga, my practice changed drastically. I had thought that Ashtanga was about wrapping your leg behind your head, and walking on your hands… but it is much more versatile. My yoga practice became therapeutic. Each posture was tailored to fit my body by my teachers. Although at times I practice what looks like a different posture in the series, it is with the same energetics and working the same parts of the body.

After eight years of practicing yoga it was in my first Mysore class that I finally felt what it was like to complete a backbend. Sure, I had done Urdhva Dhanurasana hundreds of times, but I finally felt what the pose was about through my teacher’s individual guidance. What I find most beautiful about the Ashtanga Primary Series, or Yoga Chikitsa, (which translates to Yoga Therapy), is that all of the postures can be modified for the individual. Therefore, the practice is accessible to anyone. Each posture is designed to correct certain bodily issues, such as structural alignment or cleansing/purification. Because the emphasis is on breathing in a posture, the spine must never be misaligned. During my teacher training I was able to assist and observe Melissa teach. Her room included the most eclectic and diverse range of students, from competitive athletes to limited seniors. Both Melissa and Gary instructed me on how to practice and teach Ashtanga with emphasis on alignment, but, most importantly, with insight.


Maura Tibbs