TorontoVerve: Amber, you've appeared on TorontoVerve twice before -- the last time celebrating New Year's resolutions and fitness. Since then you've moved your thriving Misfit Studio to a bigger location and you've been named as one of BlogTo's Best Yoga Studios in Toronto. Can you tell us a bit about who you were before your success?
Amber Joliat: I was a dancer -- it was my first language as a child. Always painting and dancing, my life was fuelled by creativity. I started teaching dance when I was 14, working in a company or performing. After finishing my art degree in Italy, I pursued a career in art by drawing and painting. But realizing how difficult it was surviving as a painter, I went back to dance and inevitably taught Yoga and Pilates.
TV: How does dancing help you express yourself?
AJ: It just flows from me. I feel like a vessel of pure divine spirit. And here I am, running a studio 2 years deep. Still trying to figure out HOW to, but following so honestly and truthfully my inner language.
TV: And what has the response been like from your students?
AJ: They really feel that it's innovative, creative, passionate and expressive, which I guess is new and different. They also feel that there is an authentic sense of community and connection. My philosophy is 'let's just dance, love and learn from each other.' And that actually happens.
TV: Obviously things are going well for you. How did you feel when BlogTo named you as one of the best Yoga studios in Toronto?
AJ: It's interesting. We live in a time where we want to rank things and make lists. In that sense, it's an honour. In the same breath, I feel like every single day I'm humbled and there's so much more to learn.
TV: You have many unique and artistic tattoos. What inspires your choices?
AJ: My tattoos started at 15 and are like a body map of time -- where I was and what influenced me.
I have chakras, flowers, birds, a dragon, an anatomical heart, and a pirate ship on my back. It continues...my dragon will soon hold a pearl of wisdom, and then, well, I never know when inspiration strikes! They each tell a story. I'm a moving art piece.
TV: Your Yoga classes have been described as 'alternative'. Why is that?
AJ: Yoga is so straight. People roll out their mats and don't talk or laugh. And God forbid if you play loud music -- let alone Rock N' Roll. Part of the success with me and my method is that we're shaking things up. I brought a DJ to the Thomson Hotel and led a Rock n' Roll and a Hip Hop Yoga class in front of 200 people. But, while I bring in this element of playfulness and encourage conversation, I draw from my strong Yoga foundation of 13 years.
TV: So would you say that your Yoga is an evolution from the standard art form?
AJ: Yeah...although people want to have fun and shake things up in Yoga, it still speaks to them spiritually.
TV: Sounds like church. There are churches that are tranquil and serene and other churches where people are jumping up and dancing, but both congregations still receive the same message.
AJ: Exactly, it's like Yoga is the new gospel.