NEW CANAAN — Maria Tabaschek never imagined a life focused around yoga.

It all goes back to 1997 when she checked out a Bryan Kest “Power Yoga” video while studying for her master’s at St. Mary’s University in Minnesota.

“From then on, I was hooked,” Tabaschek, 46, said. “In January 2018, I met Kest himself with my daughter and it was a way of coming full circle.”

The Mexico City native and certified yoga instructor teaches yoga at a variety of places in the area, including for a private corporation, the New Canaan YMCA, Sama, StudiO and even the New Canaan High School football team.

Tabaschek recently talked about her beginnings with yoga, her goals and travels.

Q: So how did it all start?

A: I was in Minnesota studying for my master’s in international business at St. Mary’s University. Coincidentally, at the same time that I was looking for a book on finance at the Borders bookstore, I happened to cross into the VHS video section and saw a Power Yoga video by with Bryan Kest.

I also had a friend who always had yoga class and so I decided to give it a try and absolutely loved it.

Q: Does your interest in yoga come from that video tape?

A: I was pregnant and about to have my first kid in 1997 — I say that because my first time learning yoga was with Kest, and last year in January I happened to be in a workshop with Kest and my 20-year-old daughter at Penn State University. She knows him very well and so it was a very emotional moment for us.

I like to say that I didn’t choose yoga, yoga chose me. The video with Kest was only the beginning and things just aligned themselves from there.

Q: How did you start teaching yoga?

A: My goal was to be international business and though I started taking more training for yoga, I never got certified until much later. Years later, a yoga teacher asked me to substitute for her in a studio in Westport. From then on, I stayed to teach as a volunteer.

I did that for a while. I started to take trainings and certifications because my first certification was in Florida. I went to Vermont and took advanced courses and got my diploma and then I started to teach.

In the back of my mind, teaching was a temporary thing. In 2003, my family and I moved to Switzerland and I started teaching for free for a tiny bit. Geneva was very international but there were so many expats and that’s when you realize the language of the place where you are doesn’t matter because yoga is taught in Sanskrit.

Q: What’s it like to teach yoga?

A: Giving yoga classes is a very intimate thing and it’s not for everyone. It’s not like fitness classes. There is an energetic connection between you and the students. It can be very delicate.

Q: Is that something you learn or something that comes naturally?

A: I think when you find your passion for something, the rest doesn’t matter. That’s where the personality of the teacher comes in, there are those who aren’t nervous to speak in public there are others who talk more and even others who are more quiet.

There are definitely moments of silence and reflection during classes.

Q: What is one thing you think people should know about yoga?

A: I like to say that in 1997 I traded my business studies for a yoga mat. For me, life is my yoga instructor. Yoga helps to relax me, it’s something anyone can get into at different stages of their lives.

It’s something that can help you connect with your surroundings, with your family and others.

There is a popular feeling that to be in yoga, you have to be flexible but there are three things to say to that. You don’t have to be flexible. It’s actually even better for people who aren’t because yoga will help them to be.

Meditation is also important, it’s a key aspect in yoga that can help one find balance and union.

humberto.juarez@

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