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Fire and Water Yoga Studio and Juice Bar in Amherst a space for physical well-being



Monday, November 02, 2015
AMHERST — After shattering his spine in an accident that left him in a coma for a month and then in a wheelchair during his recovery, Tea Musketaquid credits practicing yoga and understanding its connections to Chinese medicine and Zen Buddhism for getting back into shape physically.

Continuing to promote a healthy lifestyle through both fitness and diet, and creating a community for teenagers and young adults, is the aim of Musketaquid’s new downtown business that combines a yoga studio with a juice and smoothie bar.

“These practices have made it possible for me to show up for my family and my community and spreading the good word of good health,” Musketaquid said.

In opening Fire and Water Yoga Studio and Juice Bar at 39 Boltwood Walk, Musketaquid, 47, said he is seeking a space for the physical well-being of people. It is also a place where local artists can display their works, a large covered outdoor patio and stage can be used for open mic nights for music and spoken word performances, and Musketaquid’s four daughters and their friends can enjoy visiting.

“Everyone’s going to find some sparkle here that they can take out of it,” Musketaquid said.

The main focus for Fire and Water is yoga, spurred by Musketaquid’s health issues and what he describes as life trials. In addition to his spinal injury, he has faced a liver illness known as Budd–Chiari syndrome. “Through ayurveda yoga I was able to save myself,” he said.

The studio emphasizes vinyasa yoga, also known as sweet movement yoga. “The number one thing is to learn how to breathe and learn how to sit,” Musketaquid explained.

About 30 people can fit in the 800-square-foot studio, which has hardwood floors, radiant heat embedded in the ceilings and ventilation ducts. By the end of the year, fresh plants and orchids will be growing along the walls, a hydroponic garden which will help clear the air and simulate a jungle-like atmosphere.

The yoga classes, both heated and non-heated, include variations of Tibetan yoga and Qi Gong yoga, as well as ones that are more physical and more soul-centered. “Ultimately I’d say we’re modern and draw deep down from multiple traditions,” Musketaquid said.

Musketaquid, who lives in Wendell, is also certified to teach children’s yoga.

Among the six people on the teaching staff are yoga studio manager Patricia “Patti” Shields, 27, and instructor Sara Lepouttre, who is in her 20s.

One of the special classes Shields is teaching is candlelight partner yoga. Shields said this will connect couples and close friends on an energetic level by stimulating their senses, including through aphrodisiacs such as bits of chocolate, before moving into directed touch where partners strengthen non-verbal communication.

Lepouttre said she is teaching a class known as acro-yoga, which combines yoga with elements of acrobatics.

Next to the yoga studio are five showers, each with marble floors and cedar paneling, which double as changing rooms. “It’s a wonderful experience to shower in them,” Shields said.

There is also a private body-working studio for Thai Massage and other one-on-one therapies.

“Anyone who wants to use the space, it’s available for rent,” said Shields.

Drinks and food

While many patronizing Fire and Water are interested in yoga, Musketaquid said the juice bar will be open to anyone during its weekday hours from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

“If you don’t do yoga, we’ll still take care of you,” Musketaquid said, noting that the ayurvedic model he uses, with Chinese medicine as the underlying theory, extends to the juice and smoothie bar.

“Amherst has been looking for a juice bar and I really believe a lot of people will come here for the juice. People are longing for a healthy alternative,” Musketaquid said. “They run the full range from delicious treats to really nourishing meals.”

The smoothies, including favorites like pina colada and strawberry banana, have no sugar, with honey and maple syrup used to sweeten the drinks, and “no ingredients with long, unpronounceable names,” Musketaquid said.

Coconut water and hemp milk forms the base and will include many fruits and vegetables grown at his farm, Musketaquid Gardens. “We can grow most of what we serve,” Musketaquid said.

Nema Phillips of Amherst, who manages the juice bar, said she believes people will enjoy what is served. “When you’re eating healthy you will have less cravings,” Phillips said.

Apples picked earlier in the day, for instance, could become part of hot mulled cider at the juice bar. “We want to support local as much as possible. Organic is definitely a priority for us,” Phillips said.

Some of the ingredients are even growing inside the building. In one corner are aloe and wheat grass plants.

Juices will have medicinal values, relieve headaches, eliminate sugar cravings and give a boost in energy, Musketaquid said. “But we won’t be throwing a lot of ginseng into our drinks just because it’s a buzzword,” he said.

There will be 30 selections of teas, mostly medicinal. “Part of what we do is educate people who don’t understand the connection between food and health,” Musketaquid said

The juice bar also features soups and salads, such as quinoa salad, with ingredients such as guacamole and hummus produced on site.

Art

Musketaquid, who studied at the Stockbridge School of Agriculture and focused on integrated pest management for a career, has previously been a glass blower, and his daughter, Freyja, also has an artistic side, completing the Japanese-style murals that adorn some of the walls. Another teen daughter, Nyad, is helping to manage the juice bar.

He hopes to put the site on the monthly ArtWalk tours and welcome artists to display their works.

“Expression is definitely at the root of what we’re doing here,” Musketaquid said. “The water element is creativity, and the fire is about the drive to get that creativity out to the world.”

Musketaquid would not say how much he spent renovating the space that was most recently used for a hibachi grill restaurant, but acknowledged he is “deep in red,” even though he spent 60 to 80 hours per week doing most of the work himself, with only the need to hire an electrician and plumber.

“I’m not worried about that because I know where we’re going,” Musketaquid said. “It’s been a long and painful road. I’m operating on faith that the intentions are good.”

He signed a lease in March 2014 after seeing the space and the potential to enhance the community and give his four daughters the same healthful habits he has received from yoga.

Fire and Water staff is doing outreach in the community and will have a live demonstration Saturday on the Town Common during the weekly Amherst Farmers Market.

And he encourages people to drop by, whether for yoga, the drink bar or a musical performance. “The best way is to come in and experience it,” Musketaquid said.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.