MindBodySoul Yoga Studio in Upper NYC
This interview is part of a series to help newcomers and longtime residents of “The Heights” neighborhood in Upper Manhattan learn more about the lifestyle, stores and professional services in Washington Heights, where I live and work.
I had the opportunity to interview one of my favorite yoga instructors at MindBodySoul Yoga Studio located on Fort Washington Avenue between 174th and 175th Streets.
Meghan Howard is an amazing instructor with a fascinating background that combines ballet, yoga and health advocacy for patients using assisted reproductive technologies.
The other day, we took time out from both of our busy schedules to chat at nearby Kazza Wine Bar on 177th Street near Fort Washington. I wanted to know about Meghan’s experience in yoga as well as her latest exciting projects.
I thought it might be easier to record our session and then transcribe it for you:
Adri: Thanks a lot for taking the time to meet with me and talk a little bit about what you are doing. I love the fact you are first in my new blog series at the Sovereign Associates real estate website. Let’s start off with an easy question: How long have you been studying dance and yoga, Meghan?
Meg: Thank you for inviting me to participate! I’ve lived in Washington Heights on and off for the last 13 years and am glad to be a part of a story about this wonderful neighborhood. I began dancing when I was just 3 years old. I studied at the Dance Academy of North Jersey, New Jersey School of Ballet, and even danced with the United States Dance Team where I had the opportunity to travel all over the world. That was a great experience. I started practicing yoga later on, when I was about 25 years old. I was formally certified as an instructor in 2012 with Alyssa Snow in the Teacher Training Program at MindBodySoul Yoga Studio, but I already had years of experience teaching movement through dance and some other modalities.
Adri: For a long time, I thought yoga was mostly about doing the poses properly and lots of breathing.
Meg: It’s easy for many of us to become very focused on what our bodies look like in a posture, but what I love the most about yoga is that these postures and movements are built from the inside out. The practice of yoga is really about listening to your body and learning to detect subtle sensations, then using that sensation to guide movements and postures. I like to tell my students that more experienced practitioners are not necessarily more flexible or more strong (although these benefits do usually come along with a regular practice), but they are more skilled at detecting their own line between sensation and pain. As you practice more yoga, you become more and more attuned to how your breath is feeling, how your body is feeling, and you learn to naturally adjust your posture or your movement to find space, to find stretch, to find balance, and to find alignment. Yoga is therapeutic rather than performative.
Adri: Do you mostly teach adults?
Meg: These days, I do teach mostly adults, but I also have experience teaching yoga classes for children and teens and I currently have some private clients who are teenagers. Working with girls and young women is especially important to me because when I was younger, my dance training was hyper-focused on what my body looked like externally rather than on how it felt. I always wonder how my relationship with my body might’ve been different growing up, if I’d been introduced to yoga sooner and had really learned to listen to how my body feels rather than putting all my attention on what it looked like. But there are benefits to working with every single population. I truly love to work with students of all genders, ages, and abilities.
Adri: That's awesome! Also, I wanted to ask you about injuries. What should a person with a back, knee injury or a sprained ankle do previous to starting yoga?
Meg: For students who are new to yoga and are working with an injury, it is important that they speak with the instructor before class begins. The instructor might suggest some modifications to keep them safe so that they can benefit from the practice of yoga without aggravating their injury. I also suggest that students with chronic injuries schedule at least one private lesson to get more personalized feedback from an instructor that they can then apply in group classes. This is also helpful for students who like to practice yoga at home by themselves where an instructor is not available to offer modifications or adjustments. Most importantly, I always encourage all students to pay close attention to what their body is telling them and honor those messages above all else. Even in group classes, let your body be your primary guide. The instructor’s cues are secondary to your own personal sensation.
Adri: Those are really good points! Meghan, I would like to know if there are any upcoming projects that you are excited about and would like to share?
Meg: Well, as you know, I often teach the first yoga class of the day. I love early mornings and really appreciate the opportunity to transition my students into the start of their day. Soon, I will post a 30-minute early morning yoga practice on MindBodySoulYoga Studio’s webpage so that student who can’t make it to class can still practice at home.
I also now offer two by-donation morning yoga class at Our Saviour's Atonement Church. They have a great community there and a meditation group that meets daily, too! We practice yoga downstairs in the basement where morning light streams in through the windows. All levels are welcome and no donation is too small.
I have a few workshops coming up, too. In the spring, I’ll be collaborating with my friend, Katy Hogan, to offer two workshops combining yoga and acupuncture. One will be a restorative yoga workshop that is open to anybody and the other will be specifically focused on fertility. Those workshops will be taking place at MindBodySoul Yoga Studio in June.
I’m also putting together a series for adults that transitions students from yoga postures to a free movement meditation. This series will take place at the church and I hope to offer it at other Washington Heights locations as well.
Adri: Wow! All of that sounds really interesting! It looks like you have a lot of projects going on, and more coming soon. Thanks again for dedicating this time to us and sharing about you. Please let us know where people can find you.
Meg teaches Hatha and Vinyasa yoga classes at MindBodySoul Yoga Studio on:
Mondays at 6:00pm
Tuesdays at 6:45am
Wednesdays at 7:00am
Thursdays at 6:45am
Saturdays at 8:30am
MindBodySoul Yoga Studio is located at 350 Fort Washington Avenue. Their full schedule is available online at: mindbodysoulyoga.com
Meg also teaches by-donation group yoga classes at Our Saviour’s Atonement Church on:
Mondays at 7:45am
Fridays at 6:45am
Our Saviour’s Atonement Church is located at 178 Bennett Avenue. Their webpage is: osanyc.org
To contact Meghan Howard with questions about her schedule, workshops, or private sessions, please email her at: [email protected] or call or text her at: 917.232.7749.
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