Successful Canadian musician Sarah Neufeld came to NYC with a new dream - to start a studio - and she did it. She’s one of the owners of Modo Yoga. Whether you meet her rocking it out on stage with the indie band Arcade Fire or on the yoga mat, there is little doubt you will be struck by just how easily she has brought her passions together, and given each her own dynamic spin.
YogaCity NYC's Dar Dowling caught up with her to learn more about her journey -one where music and yoga compliment each other perfectly.
Dar Dowling: How did you find your way to yoga?
Sarah Neufeld: I started practicing ashtanga yoga when I was 20 and in the University in Montreal. I had been aware of yoga for a long time, since I grew up in a hippie enclave – Vancouver Island. It took me a while to find it on my own terms. I had done Bikram, and liked it, but it didn’t resonate with me. Then I heard about Moksha Yoga, and gave it a try. The teachers where super generous and had a very open hearted way of teaching, which I really loved. They took me as I was - I felt like I could go there and just be myself. All of that combined with the amazing community I found at Moksha created a perfect trifecta.
DD: Since you have such a busy life on the road how did teacher training come into the picture?
SN: Moksha Yoga was a wonderful counterpart to my life on the road. Thinking about taking teacher training was a thrilling and humbling prospect, considering that the only thing I had ever done professionally was play violin. It just felt right, and I did it.
It just happened that I wasn’t on the road when the training took place, so I could go. At the time I was touring with Bell Orchestre, and we did a show at BAM , which was amazing. Then I flew to India for the teacher training in Kerala, and I loved it.
When I came back I wasn’t touring too much, and I am grateful that Dina Tsouluhas my mentor at Moksha Yoga Montreal gave me a flexible teaching schedule, so I could jump right into practice teaching. That was very important to me, because if I didn’t have that time I'm not sure I would have kept teaching.
DD: What was India like?
SN: It was the sounds of Kerala which struck me the most. It is so full of water, and I would wake up in the morning to the sounds of the communities around me, who were waking up too – pop music, voices, radio, chanting and the birds singing. It was so exotic and magical, and will stay with me forever.
DD: With your music career in full swing, how did you decide to open Modo Yoga in New York?
SN: I wanted to teach before taking on such a crazy adventure, and I was really fired up after taking the training and teaching. Rebecca Foon also took the training, we've been friends since we were kids, and we're both musicians. We were excited about creating something together that wasn’t about music, and involved creating another parallel existence. Neither one of us had done anything else but make music before.
One thing led to another, and we decided to open Modo in New York. We didn’t think that there was a style quite like ours in the city, and believed that people in NY would really like it. I had always loved the city, visiting often and even meeting my partner there. With my touring schedule I couldn’t be there full time, but the cookie crumbled, and Guillaume Brun and Britton Darby, both wanted to start a studio with us. So all four of us came to the city and we built the studio. Now it seems like it all happened so fast.
DD: Are there any similarities between making music and practicing yoga?
SN: The practice of making music and the practice of breath, meditation and asana require steady effort, focus, and the willingness to let go of any outcome - instead, repeatedly coming back to the practice, again and again.
DD:What’s on the horizon?
SN: I finished a year of amazing rock shows with Arcade Fire in the fall of 2014, it was a truly epic and wonderful experience. My fiancee Colin Stetson and I wrote a pretty slamming duo album, recorded in the winter, and it’s set to come out in the spring of 2015. I’m currently finishing my second solo record, which I have to say I’m very psyched about, I’ve been working with a very different sound for this record. In the coming months, there will be lots of duo and solo touring, as well as a new Modo studio opening up later this year in Williamsburg- very exciting stuff!