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Yoga festival founder finds a haven at Canalside

Julie Leatherbarrow will start teaching yoga to grown-ups next week at a day-care center in South Buffalo.

It makes sense to the 42-year-old mother of three, who about two years ago started a new business – Budding Tree Yoga for Kids – in an already busy life.

Leatherbarrow – subject of today's What are you Eating? story in WNY Refresh – will teach the 11-week session of Hatha yoga from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Kiddie Corner Day Care Center, 1019 Abbott Road, kitty corner to where her father, Tom, once taught martial arts.

Next month, she’ll teach kids yoga at East Aurora Montessori School on Mondays and Saturdays.

And next weekend, she will join several other yoga instructors at Canalside to present the free Budding Tree Yoga Festival, which was rained out in July and has been rescheduled for 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 14 at the popular downtown waterfront park.

“We thought we’d pull all these studios and instructors together and have one great big yoga day,” said Leatherbarrow, a South Buffalo native who lives in Elma with her husband, Marc, and their daughters, Mica, 5; and Iris, almost 4. She also has another daughter, Lindsay, 25, a Genesee Valley schoolteacher.

Information on the classes and the festival can be found at Leatherbarrow’s website,; a festival schedule also can be found below.

Canalside has been a familiar place for Leatherbarrow, also a glass artist, who for three years has led the Saturday Artisan Market on the boardwalk; it runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. the first and third Saturdays of each month – including today – through Oct. 18.

“It’s a beautiful scene down there,” she said. “I moved out of Buffalo for about 10 years and I’ve seen different markets like this around the country and always thought, ‘This is something that has to happen in Buffalo.’”

Yoga has been another colorful idea since her return to the region.

“When I got pregnant with my 5-year-old, I started looking for other things to do,” she said. “I used to travel around the country. I would do 30 to 50 shows a year.”

With the births of her youngest daughters, she decided to cut down on the travel, and look at fitness and exercise as a way to do so.

“I love kickboxing, I love interval training, any form of exercise. But what I need is yoga,” she said. “I always come back to yoga. If you slow all those things down ... it’s basically yoga.”

When she was pregnant with Mica, she fell in love with Yoga Kids videos and she signed on with the company to get certified as an instructor in the educationally based program, which includes math and science, language and music, art and exercise.

Studies by Purdue and Indiana universities have concluded that yoga can lower stress levels and improve test scores for kids, said Leatherbarrow, who plans to take additional yoga training in the coming months at the Himalayan Institute on Delaware Avenue.

“Increasing flexibility in the body helps increase flexibility in the mind,” she said.

Here’s the Budding Tree Yoga Festival schedule for a week from Sunday, which is subject to change:

Great Lawn

Kids and family yoga: 9 to 10 a.m. (Julie Leatherbarrow)

Pre- and post-natal yoga: 10 to 11 a.m. (Megan Callahan)

Foundation Asana Workshop in a Static Practice: 11 to 11:30 a.m. (Zefea Samson)

Bollywood Dance Demo: 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. (Gaitre Devi)

Mystical Healing Vinyasa Flow: 12:15 to 1:15 p.m.

Hatha yoga: 1:15 to 2:15 p.m. (Julia Kress)

Slow Flow Vinyasa: 2:15 to 3:15 p.m. (Monica Zucco)

Hoop Dance yoga Workshop: 3:15 to 4:15 p.m. (Kristin Damstetter)

Zumba: 4:30 to 5:30 (courtesy of the JCC)

Dunbar Lawn

Laughter yoga: 10 to 10:30 a.m.

Kundalini yoga: 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. (Sofia Clark)

Paddleboard yoga workshop: 12:15 to 1 p.m. (Marie Phillips)

Yoga for wellness: 1 to 2 p.m. (Tara Laurenzie)

Personal and spiritual development workshop: 2 to 3 p.m. (Laura Jean Castelluzzo)


Twitter: @BNrefresh

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