Yoga instructor and studio owner Tea Musketaquid ends today’s yoga and lunch class with a smile-asana. “Now carry that posture with you throughout the day,” he tells me and two other students.
Walking into the windowless room in the middle of the day, with its mood lighting and warm floors, makes it easy to lose track of the day. Pranayama also helps “calm the brain.”
“Wherever you are in life, make it sweet,” is Musketaquid’s philosophy at his new Amherst studio, Fire and Water.
The 30-minute lunch and yoga class is designed to help the average weekday worker fit in a class during a meal break. The studio offers hot classes, but Musketaquid says he keeps this class to about 75 degrees so students don’t have to shower before returning to work. The class runs 12:10-12:40 p.m., Monday through Wednesday. If students order lunch on their way into class, he says, they can grab it and be in and out in 35 minutes.
Fire and Water offers soups and salads, but their most popular items are the easiest to grab — smoothies.
“I really wanted to give people at their desks an opportunity to get out and grab some health without interfering with their work day,” says Musketaquid.
Today’s class is different from any other I’ve taken — it’s centered on moon salutes versus sun salutes. Musketaquid talks quickly but soothingly as he leads the yoga flow. Maureen Giese, who attends today’s class with her sister, says she drove from Boston to take the class.
“I can’t wait to try my smoothie!” says Giese, skipping out of the door.
I try the Avo-tein and it certainly is a meal in a glass. It’s made with hemp milk, avocado, dates, banana, pineapple, sunflower seeds, cocoa, and superfood powder.
The moon-centric vinyasas require students to position their mats perpendicular to the front of the room. He says many of his classes incorporate this style. He says he works to create a genuine flow without following the mainstream, “cookie-cutter yoga” world.
“You’re going to come to our classes and get something different than you get at other classes,” he says.
Musketaquid says that while sun salutes fit better over the mat, moon salutes involve the whole body more and are better for circular, rather than linear, movement. In post-colonial India, Musketaquid says, sun salutes were designed for men and moon salutes were designed for women.
A practice that’s too heavy on the sun salutes without moon for balance, he adds, can actually “wear a groove into your hips and lower back.”
Before opening the studio, Musketaquid suffered from a rare, hereditary liver disorder. They’d given him two months to live. A regiment of Chinese medicine, fasting and a lot of yoga, he says, saved his life. Years later, he says, the doctors consider him a freak of nature, that he’s “in the medical books.”
“Life throws you out of balance,” says Musketaquid. “In order to gain control we need to step outside ourselves and see what needs to be changed.”
Musketaquid says he did most of the construction work in the studio over about nine months. He refinanced his construction business, his home, his truck, “his life,” to make this happen. Taking a look at the studio’s radiant heat floors, it’s easy to see it was no small feat.•
Contact Amanda Drane at email@example.com.