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WNY yoga studio owner's new pose: Co-star of DVD

Marina Mukandala found yoga after graduating in 2002 from Clark University in Worcester, Mass. and going into the work force. “I was under a tremendous amount of stress making that transition into the real world and developing a lot of anxiety,” the Black Rock native said.

Mukandala and her husband, Magezi, moved back to her home region a decade ago. She went to work as a donor relations manager with the Buffalo Philharmonic and the couple started a family. Within three years, her passion for Baptiste yoga drove her to start her own studio, Mind Body Flow Yoga, at 9390 Transit Road in East Amherst.

She’ll take another step next weekend with the release of her first DVD, “Power Yoga Ignite,” in which she and Pino Rizzi, an instructor and leader with Power Yoga Canada, lead a somewhat demanding yoga style often practiced in warm conditions.

The duo also will lead two workshops, from 9 to 11 a.m. Jan. 27 and 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Jan. 28. Cost is $35 per workshop or $60 for both. Register at, where you’ll also soon be able to order the DVD. Preorder it for $29.36 before next weekend at or phone at 218-3167.

Q. Why launch a DVD?

Marina Mukandala wanted to take her passion for Baptiste yoga beyond the four walls of her studio.

Part of the Baptiste work is being up for something bigger than yourself. I thought this could really take yoga outside of the four walls of the studio and bring it to a vast population of people. Anyone can do this from home. It gives people flexibility. Life gets busy, let’s face it. We might be going through a difficult time and we sometimes can’t get to a yoga studio to take a class.

Q. What is the video like?

We went very bare bones. We want people to focus on the physical asanas (postures) and the work, so we stripped away the layer of music. There is a 75-minute live class that Pino and I led together. Then we have these little 10-minute or less segments that are a quick burst for your core, a quick burst for your arms, a quick burst for your legs. They’re impactful. There's meditation and an abbreviated yoga practice segment Pino led by himself. There’s a lot of detail work.

Q. What temperature is the studio in the DVD and your classes?

The room is heated to about 85 to 90 degrees. It’s a challenging, athletic style of yoga. You’re moving. You’re connecting your breath with the movement. You’re sweating. You’re really challenged by your teachers to give the best you have to give.

Q. Do you have to turn up the thermostat to 85 degrees before you use the DVD at home?

No, no, no (with a laugh). The practice itself builds heat. It warms the muscles and gets the body prepared to move and stretch safely.

Q. Who can take classes at your studio?

This practice is for everyone.  I have people as young as 13 and upwards of 70. The beautiful thing about this practice is it’s really malleable, flexible. You help create it. We instructors are just guides. We have students recovering from hip replacements, rotator cuff injuries, and they still come into this room and have a very powerful experience. You modify the practice to honor what your body needs.

Q. Talk about Pino Rizzi and the role he played in the DVD.

He’s with Power Yoga Canada. He’s a teacher/leader. He helps lead teacher trainings, retreats, yoga workshops. He has traveled extensively to assist with Baptiste programs all around the world. He is a wonderful friend.

In 2014, he approached me one day about collaborating on creating a Power Yoga DVD. I said, yeah, let’s do it. My husband has a video-media background. He shot the footage. We worked from a Friday through a Sunday in May of 2014. My husband shot everything, and edited everything. Pino and I have been giving our input on everything. It's been a complete and utter project, and an amazing collaboration.

Q. How can such a DVD work in an overall individual yoga regimen?

This is a great way for you to complement your practice and keep it going during busy times and also have a gateway into yoga if you’re curious about it but getting over the fear of coming into a studio. ... It’s not a replacement for a yoga class because there’s nothing like coming into a yoga studio and moving and breathing as a community. We’re going to have electronic versions, too. If you choose the electronic version, you can download it and access it from any electronic device.

Q. Can you talk about the benefits of yoga?

They’re endless, from reduced stress to greater self-awareness, to weight loss to breath awareness. There’s a reduction in migraine headaches. People sleep better. It helps reduce depression and anxiety. Yoga helps people to become less reactive. That empowerment piece is huge. People become more aware of their habits through this practice. It’s confidence building, self-esteem building.


Twitter: @BNrefresh

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