Marion "Mugs" McConnell of Scotch Creek in the Okanagan was first introduced to yoga as a teenager in 1973 and has practiced yoga ever since, teaching since 1978, having studied with Swami Vishnudevananda. She graduated from the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre as a Yoga Acharya in 1978.

In 1977 McConnell became a student of Yogiraj Dr. Hari Dickman, a disciple of Swami Sivananda, Paramhansa Yogananda and others. Dr. Hari Dickman was a Latvian man who began his yoga journey before World War II. During and after the war, Hari Dickman taught yoga in DP camps (camps for displaced persons) until Paramhansa Yogananda brought him to the United States where Hari resided until his death in 1979.

The letters Dickman received from yoga masters were the "textbooks"; that he used to teach Marion McConnell, hence she is passing along those teachings with her book, Letters from the Yoga Masters: Teachings Revealed through Correspondence from Paramhansa Yogananda, Ramana Maharshi, Swami Sivananda and Others (North Atlantic Books 2016) with a foreword by Erich Schiffmann. Available from Banyen Books ($29.95 9781623170356).

This book includes instructions for eight "limbs" of yoga, such as ahimsa (non-violence) aand brahmacharya (celibacy/chastity). She contends the real depth of teachings lies in the practices of pranayama (breath work), pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation), and samadhi (enlightenment). There are additional discussions on kundalini, life after death, the seven lokas, ashram life, Jesus as a yogi, swara yoga, and more.

McConnell has been the Canadian Representative for the International Yoga Teachers Association (IYTA) since 1982. She is an Experienced Registered Teacher with Yoga Alliance (E-RYT500) and has served on Yoga Alliance committees since 2012.

With her husband Robert McConnell, she owns and operates SOYA (South Okanagan Yoga Academy) for training yoga teachers and organizing yoga retreats and workshops in BC, Alberta and Mexico. With its roots in the Sivananda lineage, SOYA promises to give students a diverse and broad exposure to many styles, lineages and philosophies. Instruction has been influenced by Dr. Hari Dickman, Swami Vishnudevananda, Pattabhi Jois, Namadeva Acharya, Erich Schiffmann, Rod Stryker and Chris Chavez. More than 500 teachers have been exposed to styles such as Ashtanga, Sivananda, Yin, Restorative, Anusara, Vinyasa as well as Tibetan, Buddhist and other practices.

[BCBW 2016]