Taos Yoga Therapy: the next wave of Taos yoga

Originally published in Taos News

Last fall, Monique Parker opened Taos Yoga Therapy, a boutique yoga studio specializing in personalized instruction, authentic yogic studies, and therapeutic yoga. It is located in Central Station, behind Dara Thai and La Bell Dry Cleansers.

Parker’s goal is to provide an oasis for healing in the heart of downtown Taos.

Every business has a story, and Taos Yoga Therapy is no exception.

“I was meditating when a voice popped into my head,” Parker said. “It told me to ‘Log onto Craigslist under commercial property.’ It was a strange message since I wasn’t looking to open another business.”

Just two years before Parker had left UNM-Taos, where she taught English Composition and co-founded and directed the Yoga Teacher Certification Program, to found Svastha Yoga Institute, the U.S. affiliate school of Svastha Yoga and Ayurveda in Chennai, India.

She later went online and found an ad for a unit in Central Station.

“A place that, until then, I had no idea even existed,” she said. “It has lush garden landscaping, ample parking, natural light, and because of its location just off the main drag, also affords privacy and solitude—perfect for healing.”

Parker saw it as a sign to take a step forward.

“The message came just days before completing a three-and-a half-year commitment of hosting and coordinating a 500-hour Svastha Yoga Therapy Certification here in Taos,” she said. “It made sense that this was the next step on my journey as a yoga therapist.”

Classes and wellness sessions

Traditionally, yoga was taught one-on-one, teacher to student.

“Ancient teachers understood the importance of tailoring each lesson to the individual needs of the practitioner,” said Parker. “Today, yoga is frequently a one-size-fits-all practice. Taos Yoga Therapy upholds this teacher-student tradition by adapting yoga so that anyone can benefit. I do this with small group classes and wellness sessions.”

Wellness sessions are one-on-one consultations. They are ideal for students who want to develop a personal yoga or meditation practice or who have specific health challenges such as chronic low back pain, asthma, or structural imbalances like scoliosis.

“In these sessions I assess and develop a specialized yoga program for each client’s health challenges, age, goals, and needs,” said Parker. “The therapeutic application of yoga is a new wave of yoga, perfect for those who are living with or recovering from pain, dealing with specific health challenges or injuries, or striving for optimal health and prefer a more intimate, slower-paced program.”

The students

Sherry Koch is impressed with Parker’s sessions, which have stabilized her blood pressure and helped her to feel more at peace and happy. She has taken several small group classes, including core strength, foam roller, sun salutations, and Svastha Yoga.

“Monique is a compassionate and gifted teacher,” Koch said. “Through many years of experience in her own practice and education, she has developed yoga therapy classes which are gentle, but also challenging, and combine meditation and chanting.”

Penny Thor was new to yoga when she started Parker’s classes last fall.

“I like that Taos Yoga Therapy classes are small and personal,” Thor said. “Monique is a caring and informative instructor. She understood my lack of mobility as a beginning older student and taught the poses and breathing slowly that are so important in Svastha Yoga.”

Joanie Donnelly says she has achieved a new level in her practice thanks to Parker.

“Monique has this wonderful, loving and natural ability to teach the many facets of yoga,” Donnelly said. “She lights up my life, and we are so fortunate to have her here in Taos.”

Hannah Rappaport began studying with Parker after she opened her doors.

“Monique is a unique yoga teacher because she reaches back to yoga’s true origins as a meditative practice,” said Rappaport. “I always have the experience of deep wellness in her classes. She concentrates on the breath so completely that I am able to breathe into the poses rather than struggle to achieve them.”

“Monique leads us through a very natural and fluid routine which changes each time I participate,” said Beth Plowman. “I literally feel like I am walking on air afterwards, plus I am so much stronger.”

The philosophy

According to Parker, yoga therapy is an aspect of the ancient tradition of yoga that focuses on health and restoration.

“Because nearly everyone will eventually encounter some health challenge, the emphasis is on personalized instruction and modifying traditional yoga postures and physiotherapy exercises,” she said, “as well as offering mindfulness techniques such as meditation, pranayama (breathing exercises), chanting, and yoga nidra (guided meditation).”

At the heart of Parker’s offerings is the connection between movement, breath and awareness.

“When linked together, they create a meditative and balanced practice that promotes strength, flexibility, increased breath capacity, and mental steadiness,” she said. “The basis of my practice and what I teach comes from my teachers in India, A.G. and Indra Mohan. They were longtime students of Sri T. Krishnamacharya, the father of modern yoga.”

The instructor

Parker has been a yoga practitioner for twenty-one years, teacher for fourteen years, and teacher of teachers for seven years.

“As the owner of Taos Yoga Therapy, my motivation is to make yoga accessible to everyone,” she said. “But I also love being an educator. Through Svastha Yoga Institute I offer an in-depth study into these classical teachings with a 200-hour Program for Well Being and Yoga Teacher Certification. I have certified and mentored dozens of yoga teachers, many of whom teach Svastha Yoga in our community and at my new studio.”

Yoga for veterans and first responders

In April, Taos Yoga Therapy will be adding yoga programs for veterans with PTSD and first responders.

“These programs will be headed by Carrie Leven, who is now a 500-hour level Svastha Yoga therapist,” said Parker. “It’s important to us to make yoga accessible to these underserved communities who could really benefit from yoga’s gifts.”

Taos Yoga Therapy is located at 208 Paseo Del Pueblo Sur Suite 103

Phone: (575) 613-0519

To find out more about schedules and classes visit  www.taosyogatherapy.com