The Yogi Next to You


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

I’m a born runner but had wanted to try yoga – mostly because I had never been able to touch my toes. I had read about Mala and thought it sounded right for me. Three years ago a rainy Saturday came along and I decided that was the day. Wow. It was far more challenging than I expected – but much more accessible than I imagined. I was hooked.

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

Triangle! I love triangle! It always feels so right. Crow is my nemesis in any form – flying, sideways… I have spent three years of being in almost crow.

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

Knowing when I’m ready to move to the next level of my practice, especially when it comes to the more difficult poses. I’m still a bit nervous with any arm balance because as a runner, I never really bothered with my arms much. I’ve found what I have to do is just dive in and try something. Sometimes I surprise myself and end up in a forearm stand.

What was the last Dharma talk that resonated with you?

It was something Marcus spoke about this summer. He was talking about a previous job where he found himself holding on and pushing away at the same time. There was lots of uncertainty at my work this summer and it really hit home.  Recognizing I was doing the same thing helped calm me.

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

Sometimes after listening to all the glasses clinking I like to cross the street to Downtown and have a beer or two, but who is counting?

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

The Blue Mountains in Australia.

How has practicing shifted other aspects of your life?

I am much more patient than I used to be. Yoga taught me how long and how short 30 seconds can feel. I’m much more connected to real time now.
I’ve also learned to take that extra breath when in a frustrating situation whether it’s at work or on the subway or just what comes with daily life in NYC. Experiencing frustration on the mat whether it’s not being able to balance one day or my right side is collapsing has taught me that the moment will pass and you move on.

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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