Mary’s Yoga Journey
Better Life with Yoga
I took my first yoga class in an outdoor garden with friends after work in 2000. Those evenings were the best part of a stressful time: I was recently engaged to be married, planning a wedding, and looking for somewhere to live.
Looking back over the past 20 years, I see that yoga has helped me to feel steady as difficult situations keep coming, as Rudy says: “life is relentless.” A yoga class is one of my favorite places to be (in addition to college campuses and airports). I always feel better at the end of a yoga class.
Yoga is a Living Question
My favorite quote about yoga describes my experience so far…
“Yoga is a living question that continuously points its practitioners back toward his or her own life, back into the body, straight into community.” -Michael Stone
Today I feel more comfortable in my body than I ever have, but it took decades for me to arrive here. Alignment cues that I learned in yoga classes slowly improved my posture. Eventually, I started to apply this alignment off my yoga mat as well…when standing in line, sitting at my computer desk, or watching television. Over the years, my heart space has expanded physically and emotionally.
Connecting with Rudy Peirce and Gentle Yogis
When I met Rudy at a yoga workshop in 2019, he taught me that we are “Entitled to be in development forever with anything in any place at any time.” This idea changed my life for the better! It helped me to further connect to my inner experience, including my thoughts and memories and judgements, and to connect to those around me, honoring their opportunity for growth.
In 2020 when the pandemic started and Rudy started teaching online, I loved the opportunity to attend the daily breath practice with Rudy and Joyce and far-reaching Gentle Yogis sangha. Some days my whole family (ages 5-49) participated. Doing yoga together was a dream come true for me. But that eventually changed when our local schools re-opened in the fall of 2021.
Through yoga, I’m exploring the importance of letting go, quieting my mind, and connecting to inner peace. Along the way, I have become more resilient, but when things get tough, I sometimes forget that I have these tools. So, I have to keep practicing!
Becoming a Kripalu and Dynamic Gentle Yoga Teacher
I knew early on after learning about yoga that I would one day become a yoga teacher. But as my family grew, it was a challenge to find time to get away to attend a traditional 200-hour training.
Enter 2020: Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health offered an online yoga teacher training (YTT) program. The Kripalu “Zoom temple” worked for me because we met in the evenings and on weekends. My husband helped out a lot during that time.
I took Rudy’s Dynamic Gentle Yoga Teacher Training in 2021 because I wanted to learn how to make yoga accessible and inclusive to every body. I felt better after every class with Rudy, and I wanted to be able to share that with others, especially my family members who didn’t have yoga experience and had limited flexibility. Incorporating Rudy’s guidelines into my classes, I learned how to help students to listen to their bodies to stay safe.
Teaching Yoga with Intention
I keep a sticky note next to my laptop when I am teaching to remind me of my intentions: find joy, connect, relax and feel better.
My favorite definition of joy comes from author, Rob Bell: “Joy wraps its arms around the entirety of the human experience.” To me, that means acknowledging the happy and sad, grace and effort, holding and letting go. Yoga helps me to feel more.
Connection comes from listening to our bodies to stay safe and practicing together in community.
The last intentions, to relax and to feel better, come from letting go of tension and accepting things as they are. Yoga can help us to downshift our nervous systems just by connecting to our breath. I enjoy my life from a calmer state of being.
My hope for myself and my students is for us to learn more about ourselves and to practice self-compassion and love.
I would be honored if you would join me for my 60-minute Dynamic Gentle Yoga mat class, Tuesdays from 10:30-11:30am Easter in April and from 11:00am-Noon in the month of May when the class themes will be based on the ethical yoga principles called the Yamas.