When you come to the Toronto Yoga Show this year, you’re sure to notice Margot McKinnon and her Body Harmonics Team. Body Harmonics has been part of the Yoga Conference for years and many of you may have stopped by the their booth or learned with Margot in one of her applied anatomy workshops.
Margot is a movement educator first and foremost and spends tons of time working with yoga teachers to build on their expertise to refine and develop skills that support natural movement in the human body. Margot opened Body Harmonics in 1998 with the intention of helping professionals from different movement and manual modalities become awesome educators.
With two full service Pilates studios in Toronto and an international teacher training program on three continents, she says, “We are getting there. Tons still to do and so many ways to keep helping others grow as professionals”.
Body Harmonics is all about inspiring people to be their best selves. They start from the premise that you are awesome as you are in that moment. So, the process, whether you are a studio client or movement professional, is focused on “building upon” rather than “breaking apart, changing and finding the gaps”. Margot says this is key, because it means starting from a place of confidence and all we have to do as teachers, is help grow it.
In all of the Body Harmonics professional programs, focus comes back to the science of anatomy, biomechanics, neurophysiology and psychology. Most importantly though, theory is put into action and applied learning is the outcome at every step. An M.Ed. in adult education means Margot is intensely focused on creating relevance for students and helping them unpack the “why” behind what they are learning.
“It’s about NOT forcing. Instead you let the process evolve. You just got to know what you’re looking for, embrace patience and make sure you don’t miss the small miracles along the way.” she says.
For Margot, this means helping people understand the “why” behind their goals. If a yoga teacher wants to know more about how feet work, the question should be always, “Why do you want to know more?”
Once that answer is on the table, the learning process becomes much more meaningful.
One of the challenges we all face is information overload, says Margot. And, when we take the time to ask ourselves why we want to know about something, we become more invested in the outcome.
So when it comes to teaching yogis and yoga teachers, Margot has plenty to offer. The science and motivation behind Body Harmonics teaching philosophy easily translates for many yogis. Margot recalls a lot of “a-ha moments” during her workshops at past conferences.
“Love the people in my workshops! They come with open minds and confidence knowing that there is never a bad question. They learn how to apply movement principles to their own practice, whatever that practice is, in ways that make sense for them.”
Margot always emphasizes putting people first, before the movement. For example, if a client has osteoporosis a forward fold can be too risky for the bones. If you as a teacher are not sure about what to do, you need to go to the science, figure out what is workable given the person’s situation and then offer alternate movements. The key is knowledge based in science not just anecdotal client feedback about how a movement feels good or bad.
If you are looking for more science background or a different style of teaching to bring to your classes, Margot is the next logical step. Stepping out of your comfort zone and learning about body mechanics from a new perspective with lots of hands-on experience, is a great way to solidify your understanding and improve your teaching practice.
This year Margot is presenting three workshops to help you learn more about how to work with your students by learning underlying body mechanics. You can also check out one of 18 one-hour classes with the Body Harmonics team to experience a new way to move your body using the Pilates Reformer machines and stability balls.
If you can’t make it out to see Margot this year, visit Body Harmonics any time in Toronto. Visit their website for contact details, programs and schedules and more terrific information about the benefits of healthy, scientifically informed movement.