She was born in the Philippines but grew up in a small town on Vancouver Island for her childhood. After graduating high school, she moved to Vancouver and made the city her home base between periods of travel and studies. Maria attended the University of British Columbia with a major in Food, Nutrition and Health, which included time with WWOOF during her travels abroad. Maria would travel around the world, bringing along her yoga mat wherever she went. On the road she discovered early on that whenever she would share the Ashtanga practice with others, she saw the inspirational effect the practice had on their outlook and daily life. Maria is passionate about sharing knowledge, building community, and contributing to the greater good through yoga. She is inspired by her family, nature, and all the profound relationships she has formed through her connection with the Ashtanga practice. Her teaching approach draws from over a decades worth of experiences studying under Sharath Jois in Mysore, India, receiving guidance from incredible female Ashtanga teachers (Fiona Stang. Tanya Salas, and Sharmila Desai) and countless hours off the mat in the Mysore room. She is compassionate and encouraging, and is always there to listen or to provide guidance with the practice. She has worked with new moms and expecting mothers, and witnessed many milestones in the lives of practitioners she has worked with from graduating from medical school, to building their family, or entering retirement.
She is a loving partner and step-mother, wonderful cook but terrible baker, and a big lover for animals and travel. When she was deciding what symbol or logo she wanted her Shala to show she immediately felt a pull towards elephants. As a gesture towards the Hindu God Ganesha and her adoration for such gentle yet giant creatures she chose the Sanskrit word for elephant of the Northwest, Sudanti, and a golden elephant symbol as its logo.
You can often find her welcoming you not only with her open heart but also with her warm and inviting smile!
Over the last four years, I have been blessed to have Maria's warm and careful guidance as I have deepened my understanding of Ashtanga yoga. Under Maria's wise tutelage, I have discovered not only the physical aspects of the asanas, but more importantly, the deeper levels of the spiritual practice which I have found to be healing on many levels. Over the years, I have learned again and again that the practice can be a source of strength, humility and equanimity.
Ashtanga Yoga is challenging, and Maria makes you work. Her guidance comes with a lot of knowledge, encouragement, and humour. She has guided me to many "aha" moments in my practice. Moments that, in light of the hard work, have been truly rewarding. Thank you Maria.
It is difficult to describe how meaningful it is to have Maria as a teacher. What is it exactly about her - is it her strong presence? Her sense of humour? Her contagious smile, the twinkle in her eye? That particular way she says ‘Nosetip gaze’ that instantly refocuses every practitioner in the room? Maria has a warmth, grace, humility and presence that is so rare in a person. She will push you, but always with love. Her commitment to me and my personal practice empowered me to stop hiding in the corner and blossom as a practitioner. Her guidance is delivered with such care and unconditional love that you cannot help but allow yourself to surrender to the practice and Maria’s steady, encouraging voice. If you have the opportunity to study with Maria, please do - you will never regret it.
To all the souls who are looking for higher knowledge... Maria and I crossed path five 5 years ago when she became my yoga teacher. Since then, she has keeps inspiring me on the mat and off the mat in every day life. I assisted her in the Shala (Ashtanga Yoga Vancouver) and that experience for me was very precious. If you would like to give yourself a gift of presence then Maria's Shala, Ashtanga Yoga Vancouver Island, is the place for you.
Maria is not only a wonderful teacher but she's an even better person. Maria has been instrumental in my own personal practice throughout the three years that I've known her and I'm quite certain that her other previous students would say much the same. I witnessed her, day after day, put such dedication and energy into her practice, her work and into those she was teaching and guiding. A teacher so special, like Maria, can only achieve such admiration from her students due to her empathetic nature. Maria is so generous and natural everybody feels it instantly. She helped me in so many ways over the years; I was struck by a car and my body was in considerable pain. It was Maria that reached out to me to return to my Yoga practice and it was Maria who was such an important factor in helping me begin my healing process. Maria takes it upon herself to know each and every one of her students in a very detailed manner. She has considerable knowledge on how to treat injuries through modifications. It was Maria who also encouraged me to begin my own teaching journey. Maria has a beautiful calmness in her voice and as a result, her chanting class allows others to easily feel that calm and the same can easily be said of her led class. Her dedication and care for her students, coupled with a very warm presence, results in very focused students during her Mysore classes. Whether you're new to Ashtanga or already have experience, you will certainly find that Maria can and will help you further progress your practice and do so in a way that you'll feel so very cared for. I know that is what Maria has done for me and for my own personal practice.
Maria invests a lot in your personal practise. She creates the relationship dynamic with a student that'll encourage one to take up a daily practise. I feel Maria's keen sense of awareness is her biggest asset, and remembering every student's detail and fostering their individual practise is something she excels as a teacher. The relationship she cultivates with the student, her sense of loyalty to the tradition of Ashtanga Vinyasa system, is something I'll always remember and miss.
I think of Maria as my natural teacher. Even after years of practice, when I studied with Maria my practice blossomed in new ways, with her adjustments and advice, and the example of her own practice. Thank you Maria for you steadfastness, attention,
knowledge and kindness.
It is hard to describe how Maria has helped me out, as a Korean girl who was new to Canada and to living abroad. Maria not only encouraged me but she was always there for me at the Shala (Ashtanga Yoga Vancouver). Her students always feel that she is there for them too. I learned from her how meaningful it can be to be part of a community and how the journey with the practice can inspire your own life.
Desde que me mude a Vancouver, hace dos años, continué mi práctica de Ashtanga Yoga con María. Siento que hubo un cambio positivo en mi practica. Tome consciencia que el yoga comprende mucho más que lo que aprendemos dentro de la clase. Hay una conexión intrínseca entre la manera que practicamos y como vivimos nuestra vida. El gran desafío es integrar el yoga con nuestro día a día. María me ayudo a escuchar y respetar mi cuerpo. Es una gran maestra, que se involucra con los alumnos desde su corazón. Sabe conectarse y resolver con amor y dedicación las necesidades de cada uno. Es una profesora con gran conocimiento y experiencia. Estoy feliz y agradecida de tener la oportunidad de practicar Yoga con María.
To me, Maria embodies dedication---dedication to the practice, to her students, and to her role as a teacher. She will fully support your journey of cultivating your practice through all its many seasons. You will appreciate her guiding hand and constant encouragement!
The things I learned from Maria are:
- My inner strength when I was weak
- The importance of a challenge when I faced fear
- Taking one step at at a time with breath when things are uncertain
- Being kind when I was being too hard on myself
- Unconditional love, even when I am still learning to fully love myself
- Hearing the breath in every moment, in postures, or in any situation in life
- Stillness in breath and stillness in the heart
I have been practicing under the guidance of Maria for around 4 years. Her dedication to me as a student has always been unwavering and encouraging. Through injuries and sometimes sparse attendance she has adapted the practice to me, teaching me the importance of accepting yourself as you are. I am forever grateful that I found Maria and get to call her my teacher. Life and practice would not be the same without her.