The sun is shining which means we are officially in countdown mode to this summer’s Muskoka Yoga Festival! As a media partner for the big event, we’ll be bringing you exclusive content leading up to the festival, including interviews with a few of the incredible instructors you can expect to get bendy with this weekend. In this final installment (find the first here, the second here, and the third here), we catch up with Queenie & Jonathan Phair. The duo will be leading an Up, Side, Down Flow on Saturday and their signature Sweat and Refresh on Sunday.
Tell us a little about yourselves, your practice, and your background in yoga.
We are both full time yoga instructors currently based in Toronto. We’ve practiced and taught in various cities and countries, including Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Atlanta. Queenie first started teaching yoga in 2011 and Jonathan began teaching full time in 2016, and we’ve been practicing yoga for over a decade.
We teach a variety of classes throughout the week at multiple studios in Toronto, from hot yoga, to power vinyasa classes, core yoga, yin, and functional flow. We love a strong, dynamic, and flowy class, but we also enjoy slowing down to feel the subtle shifts and changes in the body during a slow flow, or yin class.
Our curiosity and love for being students is what keeps us inspired; we love traveling to different parts of the world to learn from different teachers and cultures. We have also started our own retreat company, Focus Retreats, and have taken yogis to Thailand, Greece, Morocco, and will be headed to Vietnam in the fall of this year.
What kind of practice will you be leading at the festival? What should we expect from your session?
We are co-teaching two classes at the festival, so you’ll get our two different but complementing styles and personalities all in one class. On the Saturday, you can find us at the Market Tent at 10am for our Up, Side, Down Flow, which is all about changing your perspective. It will be a more dynamic and high energy class where you will roll onto your side, turn upside down, and spin around on your mat. Bringing the element of play back into your practice, we hope that this class will inspire you to have fun, and experience the practice with a new point of view.
Our second class is on Sunday at the Market Tent at 11am. It’s our signature class, Sweat and Refresh, and it will be exactly as it is named: we will kick it off with a high energy dynamic sequence that will get your blood moving and sweat flowing, and once we’ve wrung it out on the mat, we will completely slow down the second half of the class in yin and restorative poses that will leave you rejuvenated and refreshed.
What is particularly exciting to you about the Muskoka Yoga Festival?
Just the idea of practicing outside gets us super excited, but we are really pumped about connecting with everyone, taking other awesome classes, and just watching people experience the festival. We love how yoga brings people together, and it’s a blessing to have this opportunity so close to home.
What is different about practicing outdoors versus in a studio?
There’s something about being outdoors with the fresh air and being surrounded by nature. It’s always breathtaking for us when we practice outside, the moment we inhale and raise our arms up just as we start to flow in our sun salutation and see the blue sky above, it pulls you right into the present.
It’s nice to be in a studio where the temperature is all regulated, and the ground is even and soft, the lighting is perfect, the atmosphere is quiet, there aren’t any distractions, but we always find that we can discover a very different practice when the conditions we are practicing in isn’t completely “ideal”. That’s why we also love leading yoga retreats: sometimes we will be doing yoga outdoors on a tiled floor of a rooftop that isn’t purpose-built for yoga, and we hear birds or cars, or other distractions, our mats get dusty, our feet get dirty. We always feel a sense of renewal after practicing outside.
Do you have a favourite pose or type of yoga practice? Give us some details.
Queenie’s favourite pose would definitely have to be an inversion of any kind. She finds that it is a surefire way to quiet the mind; the attention to detail and focus on breath to ensure a safe practice helps her stay present. And for Jonathan, he loves the transitions between poses, the journey between two points, especially that initial feeling of hang time when you’re transitioning into an arm balance.
What is your number one wellness tip for summer?
Stay hydrated and protect yourselves from the sun. We often forget to stay hydrated when we are out having fun with friends out in the hot summer sun! Wear a hat, put on sunscreen, hang out in the shade sometimes, and remember to drink lots of water!