The Yogi Next to You


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

I came into yoga through Buddhism. I was on retreat at Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe and I attended a course designed to bridge between Buddhism and yoga led by Joan Halifax and Tias Little. I realized that one of the reasons that I found it so painful to sit in meditation was that I was suffering from restricted mobility and that yoga might prove a therapeutic practice for me.

I moved to Brooklyn from Manhattan in 2008 and started coming to Mala about a year later. I was going to Tara Glazier’s classes at Yoga People and discovered that she taught at Mala as well. After taking a few classes there, I realized that Mala had lots of great dedicated teachers and that I would be in good hands regardless as to who was teaching the class.

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

What pose would I want to do all day? None.

As for the second question, I would never do side-crow again if I could get into the posture in the first place.

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

In my early 20’s I developed a strange virus that caused acute arthritis. I was lucky and recovered – but nobody seemed to know why I had recovered or what had caused the illness in the first place. The experience shaped my life and I still feel fear when I sense it moving like a ghost through my body. Sometimes I face that fear by trying to fight it, permeating my practice and my life with a sense of hand-to-hand combat.

I am not sure that I will ever “overcome” this as such – the word suggests a conquest which in itself may be part of the obstacle. I try to integrate it in two ways: first, by recognizing that oppositional energy need not be negative: if you perceive its presence in a certain way you can transform it into a more productive and illuminating force; secondly, by remaining aware that there is an inherent gentleness in the idea of practice – yoga requires strength and flexibility but it stems from an ancient tradition dedicated to the concept that fostering an awareness between mind and body heals and restores us.

What was the last Dharma talk that resonated with you?

I find some of the readings too abstract for my taste. What moves me most is when teachers find ways of weaving their own story into the practice in a tender and evocative way. The most striking instance of this for me was in Stephanie’s class on the day that Angela was getting married. She told a story of how she had been at a workshop some years ago when the teacher had criticized her attempts to get into wheel – and suggested that it was because her heart was closed. Angela had spoken up and said “no – I think that it’s your quads” and then had taken some time out after the workshop to help her get over the experience. This spoke to me of one of Mala’s great strengths – its innermost circle is a community of friends and this energy ripples out across everyone who practices there.

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


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

Yashodhara Ashram in British Columbia – I visited there twice towards the end of the 90’s but I was not practicing yoga at the time, using it more as a place for a meditation retreat. It is a beautiful spot in the Rocky Mountains. It would be good to return some day and practice.

How has practicing shifted other aspects of your life?

I don’t think that I can answer that question except to say that I know that shifts are happening and that they feel positive. Yoga seems deeply experiential to me. If I started trying to explain it I would be unlikely to stop writing and you would want to edit out the majority of what I had written…and I would still have no answers.

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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