The Yogi Next to You


The Yogi Next to You - Claire McCartyWhat’s your yoga story? How’d you find Mala?

A very long time ago my college roommate was doing yoga from Richard Hittleman’s book and suggested I give it a try — which I did for several years.  I never even knew there were yoga studios or a way to learn from a teacher.

Many years later I was having lots of back pain (the kind when you have to crawl from bed to the shower to stand up).  Went to a chiropractor for months, did physical therapy, electric stimulation.  Tried massages but they just hurt.

Silver lining – the massage place was located near a yoga studio and I realized I wanted to take care of my body in an active positive way instead of being a patient — I wanted to be in charge of my own health.  The little seed that got planted many years before finally took root.  I went to my first class later that week.   There were 2 of us, and we were in mountain pose for at least ten minutes.  As hard as that was, I knew I was in a place that would give me information about my body and how to move and how to heal and recover.

I began to take class on a regular basis.  It took a few years but I really worked to create my home practice.  I did a lot of travelling for work and found yoga to be very portable.  A motel room towel was my mat, and most of the time I had more wall space than in my apartment.  My practice really changed when I started to practice 3 or 4 times a week.  Thank you summer special 3 month unlimited discount card!   More yoga led to teacher training.  I am now retired from a corporate job, practice at Mala regularly and teach yoga part time.   And my back pain is a thing of the past.

I enjoy the fact that yoga is a practice, always changing, always more to learn.  I go to class, I bring new info to my practice, and use what I learn into my teaching practice.  Sometimes it is all about reading, meditation, and home practice.  Sometimes I want to be told exactly what to do.  I take a week off.  I sign up for 2 weeks of yoga camp.

My home studio closed right after our teacher training graduation.  What do you do when your home studio is gone?  I finally found Stephanie at Area, then Angela, and followed them to Mala, then found Christina and the rest of the great Mala teachers, and joined the Mala community.

What pose do you want to do all day?

I love half moon pose.  And seated forward bends — all of them.

What pose could you never do again?

Shoulder stand

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

I am working on accepting what shows up physically on the mat, and really pay attention to what is happening today on the mat.  Sometimes that means slowing down, or using props.  Knowing if today is a day to go to the edge or do less.  And not caring about which one it is.

How do I deal?  I try not to judge or get attached to an outcome.  I realized I always learn more about my practice when I have had an injury and need to rebuild poses from scratch.  So any thing that comes up is an opportunity.

What was the last Dharma talk that resonated with you?

I love to be reminded to take what I learn on the mat to life off the mat.  How do I deal with things that challenge me, when I am not in control, when I get lazy or tired.  And remember to pause and breathe.

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

If I am with a friend, I will tag along to any place.   Alone, I am happy to brew my tea at home.

Secret vice = coffee smoothie at Nectar.

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

High on a rooftop at dawn

How has practicing shifted other aspects of your life?

I am so much more aware of the connection between body mind and spirit.  I have more tools to use to maintain my emotional balance.  I have learned how to trust myself, and how to make choices that are in tune with my center, what is in sync with my spirit.

The practice of yoga –I am learning it is all about the process, the journey, how you deal with stuff, paying attention to what is happening now, not about getting somewhere or about what is next.

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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