MysticMag has the privilege of chatting with Todd McLaughlin from Native Yoga Center and Palm Beach Thai Massage. Todd shares his views on the marriage between yoga and Thai massage and gives us a snippet of what his center has to offer and more.
When and how did yoga first find you, and what impact did it have on your life?
I was 18 when I got involved with yoga for the first time, almost 13 years ago. I saw a group of Hare Krishna devotees in the park who were eating vegetarian food and what they were doing seemed fascinating to me. I started hanging out with them and it was here that I was introduced to Bhakti yoga and chanting. I helped them out with the cooking and cleaning, and generally learned their ways.
About ten years later my mum started practicing Hatha yoga and took me along to a class with her. Yoga had an effect on my body similar to surfing big waves, and gave me the same feeling of excitement and physical well-being that surfing had done previously. (We lived in Australia before coming back to Florida). At this time of my life yoga seemed like the perfect fit, and I started eating clean and changed my lifestyle around completely.
Do you believe that you and your wife’s worldly experience of yoga allows you to offer more to your clients?
I think word travel is one of the best ways to get out of our comfort zone and open up to the bigger picture, so to speak. One of our destinations was India and this was an incredible eye opening experience for us. I believe that traveling allows us to see things from a wider angle, and I believe we were able to get a greater appreciation of yoga.
India is the birthplace of yoga and sometimes in Western countries, we are not exposed to the deep culture that emanates from India. Yoga is often over commercialized and the profundity and spirituality of the art is sometimes cast aside. Our experience in India definitely motivated us in our teachings and in our ability to teach.
Can you describe what Native Yoga Center and Palm Beach Thai Massage offer exactly, and do you offer yoga classes online?
Native Yoga Center is a community based and family owned and operated studio. We have been in the same location – Juno Beach, Florida – for the past 16 years. We have really focused on developing the local community and our goal is to offer the best yoga possible to the amazing people that come in on a daily basis.
Palm Beach Thai Massage is my other operation where I have been able to blend the body work element into our yoga studio. (I trained and studied in Thailand and am fully certified).
We do have online offerings and this was, strangely, one of the great things about the pandemic, as challenging as it was. It pushed me out of my comfort zone of working locally into the global community through the internet. We livestream our yoga classes daily and I integrate them onto my online yoga website (https://nativeyogacenter.teachable.com/). I have put a lot of energy into our online program and we now have a webinar where people from all over the globe can participate with questions, feedback and simply not feel so isolated and alone.
Is there a magic harmony between yoga and Thai massage, and when would you recommend combining the two?
There most certainly is. I always look at the two disciplines like salt and pepper. They go perfectly side by side. Yoga requires, to some degree, a certain amount of effort and Thai massage is absolute relaxation.
Yoga is your own personal effort that you put forth but Thai massage is where someone else moves and takes control of your body. Your nervous system is able to relax completely and be passive. This in turn helps your yoga practice as sometimes we put too much effort into our yoga and this can actually end up holding us back.
The most ideal situation, albeit privileged, would be to practice yoga, then to take a little break, and then have a Thai massage. This is one of the most incredible journeys you may ever experience. It is like a mini retreat and has a really profound effect.
How important are your workshops and retreats in the practice of yoga?
The great thing about having a brick and mortar location is that we have been able to invite some of our favorite teachers to travel to Florida and also host local teachers in the area. In a yoga class, typically we have an hour or an hour and a half together, but with workshops we are able to give a lot of extra information and extra fodder and food for practice that you can later take to your mat. They are a great way to get inspired.
Retreats are even better, although we haven’t hosted one since the beginning of the pandemic. We will be organizing retreats at a later stage, once we get back on our post pandemic feet.
What is your mission?
My mission is to hold the yoga tradition as purely and honestly as I can. I believe yoga and bodywork has the power to help us heal and grow. My main goal is to hold a safe and sacred space so that these amazing attributes of yoga and bodywork can be felt. My main mission is to continue to practice, to teach and to serve with our local and global communities to ultimately achieve world peace. This is a tall order, but small steps!
Thanks for reading this blog post from this podcast episode. Check out:
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Native Yoga website: nativeyogacenter.com
Online Yoga Class Library: nativeyogaonline.com
Thai Massage info: palmbeachthaimassage.com
Native Yoga Blog: toddasanayoga.com
YouTube channel: Native Yoga Center
Listen to the podcast here on our Podcast website: Native Yoga Toddcast
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