A WARM WELCOME

Down Under School of Yoga is New England’s premier yoga school, home to some of America’s finest yoga teachers, Ayurvedic practitioners and bodyworkers and a vibrant student body. When asked how we “convinced” so many legendary teachers to come under one roof, the answer is: we didn’t. We simply built what we believed was valuable and never wavered from that vision. This Boston yoga studio began as a group of friends teaching in a parish hall, all graduates of senior American yoga teachers. More than ten years ago we decided to create a space dedicated to teaching and learning. Those senior faculty plus many of Boston’s leading yogis naturally gravitated towards the uncompromising clarity and authenticity of that vision. It is the quality and cadence of these relationships, a vibrant internal dialogue, the desire to evolve intelligently, and our commitment to our core values that define who we are.

At Down Under School of Yoga, we are not seeking a beautiful pose but rather the quality of your attention inside the pose. Each tradition whispers its own secrets. Every teacher works on a different aspect of your practice. As you explore different classes, you learn to respect your body and your process. The student who loves to sweat often struggles with stillness. The yogi who delights in precision gains something different when asked to flow with body and breath. We invite you to practice what is heavenly and hardest for you, to expand your practice and possibilities.

HONORING YOGA: OUR PROMISE

As students and teachers of yoga, we are the stewards of an ancient practice; the way we act off the mat is as important as what we do on it. Consistent with the tenets of yoga philosophy that eschews materialism (aparigraha), Down Under will not make corporate product deals, trademark new styles of yoga we "invent," or sell $120 yoga pants. What matters is the quality of your attention and we adore you in your oldest baggy pants. We’ll continue to take yoga off the mat by supporting sustainability in all forms and keeping our studios green, hosting charity classes, free philosophy discussions and workshops, supporting our teachers' social justice initiatives from free yoga in low income areas to safe spaces for people of color, marginalized groups, and people of all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds.


The current American yoga student paradigm:

In an age where large gyms and corporate yoga chains sell yoga as a fun, fitness class, students are inundated by yoga glitz and gimmicks where yoga is dumbed down and dressed up (because otherwise it’s just not that appealing!). 

 

In contrast, the concept of a yoga school as a place of education, exploration, and community may seem a little old-fashioned. We defy the assumption that everything must be corporatized and we celebrate this ancient tradition, the authenticity of lineage, and the fact that we stand on the shoulders of giants. Our purpose is to shift the paradigm to create a space where students can come to learn in an environment that is without distraction and propaganda. What is so astonishing is how much this vision resonates with yoga students. As the practice lands, the student begins to distinguish amusement from authenticity and entertainment from instruction.


The current American yoga teacher paradigm:

  • The young exhausted teacher running all over the city with a haphazard schedule trying to cobble together an income
  • Advised by "business of yoga" seminars to prioritize social media over study
  • Encouraged to bill themselves as "Master Teachers" although having taught for less than a decade
  • Yoga corporations exploit young teachers by objectifying them to sell over-priced yoga clothing to students who have come to learn a craft that repudiates materialism
 

All this leads to a vicious cycle that is a powerful testimony to how hard it is to make a living as a yoga teacher. These mixed messages that young teachers receive in the name of building a professional career means that yoga is in danger of becoming the very distraction it is intended to be a relief from.

In contrast, our purpose is to create a business model where yoga teachers have a “home” where they can grow their personal practice and cultivate a sustainable living and lifestyle.

 
 
 

MISSION & VALUES

Our mission is to help people and communities realize the best version of themselves through the study and practice of yoga in a space dedicated to teaching and learning, with the country’s most esteemed teachers and the deepest yoga offerings in the region.

 

Excellence

We elevate the standards in all we do: our quality of teaching, our offerings, the cleanliness of our studios, and our personal attention to students, teachers, and managers.

Inquiry

Our school was founded on curiosity. We believe it is the burning zeal for truth that is the catalyst for evolution.


Community

We are only as good as the community we serve. We believe in the power of togetherness as a means for healing, empowerment, social equity, and support. We are all in this together.

Integrity

We invite everyone to stand in their own truth, even if it means going against the grain, what’s popular, or challenging the latest “fads.”


Compassion 

Our human compassion binds us to one another as equals, not in pity or condescension, but in a shared recognition that everyone we meet knows the taste of struggle.

Lineage

We stand on the shoulders of giants. By knowing where we come from, we are able to evolve intelligently. 


Daring Greatly

We create the possibility for greatness in people. It is through this greatness that we cultivate the courage of action to try our best regardless of the outcome. 

Practice

In an age of instant gratification and shortcuts, practice is the commitment and discipline to truly understand what we are capable of accomplishing with dedication and detachment.


Sustainability

We believe in creating a business that supports lifestyles and communities for the long haul, from teacher pay and level of care to the management structure to environmental initiatives.

Joy

We embrace the intensity of both joy and sorrow, knowing that “feeling it all” is the point of yoga. By stepping out of our comfort zone, we often find we posses the strength to endure or do what we thought we could not.

Down Under Through the Years

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Down Under Yoga was founded by Justine Wiltshire Cohen in 2004 in a parish hall in Newton Highlands. Justine had been studying yoga with John Schumacher in Washington, D.C., and even taught yoga at the Supreme Court, but when she moved to Newton to marry a local boy, she felt she had found her home. As she put down roots here, her yoga community grew, entirely through word of mouth. New teachers joined the Down Under community after meeting Justine during teacher training with Patricia Walden. Everything about our community today stems from these humble beginnings – a group of friends teaching together and our wonderful students who practiced through irregular heat, malfunctioning fire alarms, and the reverend's dogs wandering through the room. As Down Under expanded and formed into purpose-built yoga studios, we pledged to keep true to these beginnings of community, friendship, and joy in yoga practice.

From its earliest days, Down Under was known for its unique community focus. Our students would meet at a teacher’s home to help them practice for on-going assessments. There were potluck dinners at students’ houses where yogis, from diplomats to artists, shared their work. A decade ago, Down Under began a free yoga program for seniors and people with disabilities that still runs today, taking yoga off the mat with charity classes supporting causes close to home and internationally.

Down Under School of Yoga has grown to become New England’s premier yoga school. Featuring three generations of teacher-to-student lineage, unparalleled credentials, all major yoga traditions, and a powerful anti-commercial platform, the quality of instruction is matched only by the studio’s warm and welcoming atmosphere and the individualized attention given to students aged 3–93.

I got a little taste of the community here and it was like coming home. There is an amazing sensibility here that feels very non­‐competitive and supportive between teachers – a shared vision of what it means to be a studio and to help students find their own incarnation of yoga.

—Natasha Rizopoulos

The collegiate relationships of Down Under’s faculty cross decades, continents and traditions. The Iyengar faculty, with its emphasis on alignment and precision, is directed by Patricia Walden, described by Time Magazine as the “best teacher in the world.” The Flow Faculty includes nationally celebrated Vinyasa teacher Natasha Rizopoulos known for her “exacting and nearly flawless knowledge of alignment” (LA Yoga Magazine) and yoga master Barbara Benagh, a veteran of more than 40 years of teaching who is described by Yoga Journal as “one of yoga’s most compelling and distinctive voices”. At 5:45 am, the hardcore Ashtanga practitioners hold a daily Mysore practice lead by the renowned Kate O’Donnell, who like others, travels annually back to India to study directly with the Jois family, the source of her teachings.

 

As the only school in New England housing the three major lineages emerging from India, Down Under is a place of teaching and learning. The father of modern yoga, India’s Krishnamacharya, passed the tradition down to three very different young pupils: the powerful Pattabhi Jois (founder of Ashtanga Yoga), the brilliant B.K.S. Iyengar (founder of Iyengar Yoga) and Krishnamacharya’s own son Desikachar, whose life was devoted to therapeutic and meditative applications of yoga. The work of all three lineages is reflected in the Down Under’s offerings.

In late 2016, Down Under acquired Baptiste Yoga Boston and established our Baptiste program through reopening the legendary Cambridge studio along with its famed teachers under the Down Under name. Boston’s original heated flow developed by Baron Baptiste, tests students physical, emotional, and mental edge, cultivating focus, curiosity, and compassion so that what starts as a struggle becomes a source of self knowledge. In Down Under’s Heated Flow School, the permeating power of heat is used intentionally to make muscles more pliable and create a sense of deep presence and physicality. The purpose of the intensity is self-study – bringing you to your edge but also cradling you there.

A lineage is a tradition of teachings and practices that are passed down from generation to generation. If you want to climb Mt. Everest, would you figure it out yourself or talk to someone who had reached the summit? The benefit of being part of a lineage is that you know someone else has walked the path successfully. Because they know the path, they know the pitfalls, the obstacles, what happens when you doubt your ability, or have lost your way, and what’s necessary to ‘get to the top.’ You feel supported by the past even as you are seated in the present.
— Patricia Walden

The studio never blends methods but rather honors the integrity, intelligence and shared intentions of each methodology. The atmosphere at our school owes much to the powerful lattice of relationships woven over decades between senior teachers, trainees, assistants and practitioners. Each new student at the school embarks on a very personal journey, exploring which lineage, style, teacher and level resonates with them. Each tradition whispers its own secrets. Each teacher works on a different aspect of practice.

Eventually the hierarchy of teacher–student dissolves and the class becomes a conversation, a dialogue about yoga,” says Barbara Benagh. “But it’s also key for any teacher to acknowledge that they are not everyone’s teacher—that’s why Down Under works so well, because we can suggest that a particular student might find what they are looking for in another class, because the teachers know and respect one another’s style of teaching.

—Barbara Benagh

Justine Wiltshire Cohen

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The force behind Down Under School of Yoga

Australian Justine Wiltshire Cohen was introduced to yoga and the cultures of the East by journalist parents who taught English to Tibetan monks in the Dalai Lama’s refuge in India.

She spent years working in international human rights as a lawyer before marrying a federal prosecutor from Boston and devoting herself to full-time teaching. Cohen decided that if she was going to live in America, she wanted to surround herself with every creative, learned, and inspiring yogi the region possessed. And so was born a major American yoga school, home to some of America’s most senior teachers.

Justine’s teaching career has spanned two decades, holding positions that include Yoga Teacher to the United States Supreme Court, an advisory role to Yoga Alliance, Director of Down Under, and Principal in its teacher trainings. Trained under Iyengar teachers John Schumacher and Patricia Walden, she also counts Vinyasa luminaries Barbara Benagh, Natasha Rizopoulos, and other senior teachers on her faculty as mentors and colleagues.

As a teacher, Cohen is known for her warmth, humor, and lucid instructions. Her class is a powerful blend of vigorous vinyasa, anatomical precision, and poetic dialogue. She combines the joy of movement with the intelligence required to tackle advanced asana and inversions and teaches a range of yoga specialties including yoga for anxiety and depression, osteoporosis, yoga for athletes, and more. Justine’s primary passion is helping young teachers find authentic alternatives to yoga clichés: developing creative and expressive sentence structures, mastering the use of humor, imagery, storytelling, and questions, and sharing the insights drawn from their own personal practice to create fresh, energized material each week. Keenly aware of the burnout rate among young yoga teachers, Cohen is unwavering in her insistence that trainees emerge with a full toolkit of skills crafting multiple “strings to their bow.” Her students are capable of referencing their knowledge of philosophy, anatomy, Sanskrit, yoga texts, history of yoga, and Ayurveda to deliver a class that is set apart from the average “fun fitness” class.

Newcomer Special: $30 For 30 Days Of Unlimited Yoga

 

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