When and why you moved to L.A.: About 3 years ago, when I was in the process of emigrating to Toronto and took a trip to visit my brother, who was living in Hermosa Beach. I saw how popular yoga was here and how nice the climate and land was, so I decided to postpone Canada and, instead, travel to India to contemplate what I wanted.
A turning point, shift, evolution in your practice: When I first began to teach, my main teacher, Ron Reid taught me that yoga is about balance, and for me, at that time, it was about containing my energy. That affected my life in a huge way.
Something that complements your practice: Therapy! Yoga is really about controlling the mind, and sometimes we get stuck in patterns. I’ve found talk therapy to be very helpful during the times when I’ve been stuck.
If you weren’t a yoga teacher you would be: A Doctor of Chinese Medicine…but luckily, I can be both!
After practicing classical ballet for nine years and martial arts for five, Maria Villella, originally from Lewiston, NY, was drawn to Ashtanga yoga’s familiar intensity–but one in which she found a depth that she’d not yet found.
Upon completion of her initial teacher training at Downward Dog Yoga Center in Toronto, Maria began teaching there and following workshops with visiting Ashtanga teachers Chuck Miller and Maty Ezraty several times, traveled to India to study with Ashtanga’s founder and late guru, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. After a month of study with him at the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute in Mysore, she also spent time studying at Krishnamacharya’s Yoga Mandiram (KYM), which emphasized a more customized approach to each individual’s practice, in contrast to the systematic approach she’d learned with Jois.
Maria’s classes inspire students to learn to confront fear and self-acceptance through asana practice. She does so with compassion and friendliness, supported by a vast knowledge and deep, personal understanding of the specific system of Ashtanga and the universal world of asana, yoga practice, and teaching in general.
Now settled in Los Angeles, Maria studies Traditional Chinese Medicine at Emperor’s College.
At YogaPoser, she teaches in our advanced studies and level one/two teacher training programs.
“When I started to teach, I became much more interested in learning the energetics of the body and the philosophies that go with it, and that has greatly affected the way I see my students’ process and my own.”