Marisa Cranfill is the founder of YOQI which is yoga plus qigong. Frequent trips to Asia as a child inspired Marisa to study academically and work there for over fifteen years. While living in China and Thailand, she received direct instruction from qigong masters, nuns and healers in both the Buddhist and Taoist traditions.
Marisa developed YOQI from years of teaching yoga and qigong at meditation retreats. She found that both practices contained key principles and techniques that enhanced the student's stamina and sensitivity to energy during the long seated meditation sessions. The routines reduced physical pain and gave them more focus and quality of awareness. This became the catalyst to extract a clear and effective program of mindful movement, accessible to everyone, that maintains the integrity of the ancient yoga and qigong traditions.
Marisa has been described as a generous and light-hearted teacher who guides her students through direct experience. A global citizen at heart, she speaks Spanish, Italian, Thai, Chinese and English. She teaches around the world and offers free videos on the YOQI You Tube channel. She is proud to be a regular instructor with the Little Bangkok Sangha, holding annual meditation retreats and classes in Thailand. This group teaches mindfulness meditation in English and represents the new yoga.
Marisa currently divides her time between Bangkok and San Diego where she enjoys hiking, aromatherapy, progressive metal music and high vibration adventures with her friends.
Decades of Training
Although first immersed in Hatha Yoga in India in 1998, Marisa was trained to teach yoga at Yoga Elements, Bangkok. Living in Thailand, she had the opportunity to study with a variety of yogis from the Ashtanga, Integral Yoga, Anusara, Iyengar traditions. One of the largest influences on YOQI comes from Yin Yoga training with Paul and Suzee Grilley. Paul Grilley studied and taught the modern yoga called, Yin Yoga, under its creator Paulie Zink. Marisa is a certified 500-hour yoga instructor that includes 300 hours of Yin Yoga.
Marisa discovered Qigong as a student at Zhejiang University, China in 1999 through a local taiji chuan master. Since she has studied with many of the world's top Qigong masters, some well-known and others off the grid. Marisa formally trained and is certified to teach with blessings from masters of two lineages of Qigong: Universal Healing Tao with Master Mantak Chia and Master Robert Peng. She has also studied Medical Qigong at the Wandering Tao School in Yangshuo, China, as well as with respected Taoist scholar Kenneth Cohen. Female teachers include qigong master and energy healer Liu He. She has over 10 years of practice with Chen style taijiquan learned in training camps in China as well as with local Chinese Chen lineage holders. Her teaching style comes from experiential learning from both Buddhist and Taoist styles of qigong.
Cultivating "bare awareness" is the foundation of all YOQI practices. Marisa has extensive experience with a range of Buddhist and Taoist meditation techniques including Samatha, Vipassana, Chinese Chan, Japanese Zen, and Pureland schools. Her primary method of practice and teaching is Vipassana from the Theravadin Insight Meditation tradition (the origin of "mindfulness" meditation). She has assisted her meditation master Ajahn Helen Jandamit since 2006 with retreats at the Young Buddhist's Association of Thailand and is currently a regular visiting instructor at the Little Bangkok Shangha.\
Part of Marisa's yoga and qigong training involved seven years (2004-2011) immersed in the spirit house tradition of Thailand. Here she studied the rituals and mythology of the Thai spirit world with local shaman priests in the Thai language. Stepping into other cultures through mythic membership greatly influences her understanding of energy healing, archetypes and our spiritual evolution. She gives annual lectures at museums and scholastic venues in Asia on the topic.
Fashion and Media
Marisa is the heir to her mother's apparel label Marisa Baratelli and grew up with one foot in the fashion industry. She was the Creative Director of Marisa Baratelli working closely with her mother for almost twenty years running the largest Thai silk garment export company in the world. Modelling since her teens, she loves to be in front of the camera and has a natural talent for color and design.
Photo credits and copyright: Joseph Graf, JP Graf Photography
In Her Own Words
"Over twenty years ago I discovered qigong as a student in China. Soon after, I combined it with a yoga practice and received amazing results: more sensitivity to energy, deep self-healing and access to nature's unlimited potential. I call this integration of yoga and qigong, YOQI. Today my greatest joy is in sharing the tools to cultivate our life force energy, for self-healing, vitality, spiritual fulfillment and a deeper connection to all of nature.
My role as a qigong instructor is to keep qigong pure — away from ego, abuse of power, manipulation, misguided sexuality, and animal magnetism. My channel as a qigong master is to embody experience, reason, wisdom, humility, beauty, grace, care, love, and genuine connection for the benefit of all beings."
The above is an article edited from Marisa Cranfill by David Silver. Her new YMAA DVDs, YoQi: Six Healing Sounds Qigong, ISBN: 978594396984 and YoQi: Qigong for Stress Relief, ISBN: 978594397769, Pub date August 2020.