The Yogi Next to You


The Yogi Next to You - Sarah BirdWhat’s your yoga story?  How did you find Mala?

My yoga story starts over twenty years ago in San Francisco, when I went to my first class.  It was a bit of a disaster because the teacher insisted I take off my glasses, so I therefore could not see a thing, in addition to not understanding a thing.  Needless to say, it took another five years or so to try again.  I started practicing ashtanga about 15 years ago with a private teacher.  It was a revelation.  Even though I don’t still practice ashtanga very often, it was an amazing foundation and it still inspires my home practice.  I found Mala through Alma Largey (thank you Alma), and I instantly knew I had found my yoga home.

What pose do you want to do all day?  What pose could you never do again?

That’s a hard one for me.  I used to dislike utkatasana, but I pretty much gave up the like or dislike of poses a while ago.  I find Warrior I challenging.  I do love a headstand, though!

What are your biggest yoga obstacles and how do you overcome them?

As much as I understand the benefit of the process rather than the outcome of a pose, that achievement thing is pretty hard-wired.  My biggest asana challenge has been handstand.  It took me seven years of practice before I got up on my own (really), and then I lost it for ages, and now it comes and goes.  I am constantly reminded about patience and compassion in the attempt at handstand.  As Stephanie would say, handstand is my guru.

What was the last Dharma talk that resonated with you?

Lindsay made a comment in passing on Thursday about experiencing the vibrancy and aliveness when seated still in meditation.  That struck a chord.  Also, I do love Pema Chodron and Angela (or was it Christina?) read the passage from When Things Fall Apart,  “The way to dissolve our resistance to life is to meet it face to face,”  and continues with, “There is no cure for hot and cold.”  Brilliant.  I also love it when Angela reminds us that yoga essentially means “quick recovery.”

Where is your favorite place to get coffee, or a drink, post-yoga?

I am a regular at Cafe Pedlar.

If you could practice yoga anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Pretty much any clean floor will do, although the ability to jump in a roiling ocean afterwards would be a plus, in say, Western Australia or Bali.

How has practicing shifted other aspects of your life?  

My practice has been so integral to how I interact in the world that it’s hard to separate — my life and my practice seem to be the same thing.

I experienced a moment of samadhi many years ago while making a big sculptural installation that required me to practice a repetitive task eight hours a day for about six months.  My yoga practice has given me a path to see that place again.

We’re thrilled to bring you the stories of Mala yogis in their own words.  Maybe you know them, maybe you’ve never seen them before, maybe they look familiar, maybe you once knew their name, but forgot.  Whatever the case may be, here is the chance to learn a little more about the person practicing on the mat next to you.  Click here to read about other yogis.


About The Mala Yoga Blog

We are a Brooklyn-based studio that focuses on alignment, balance and community. Have a read, try one of our Practice Podcasts, or come in and say "hi" in person!
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