The Yogi Next to You


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

I’ve been on and off my mat for about 10 years. I started out doing Kathy Smith yoga DVDs, so had the good fortune of ‘learning’ from Rod Stryker. About two years into my very casual practice I was sidelined by a bout of positional vertigo and about six months after that suffered an intense hip injury that had me out for about a year. I became very involved in swing dancing in the interim, but I never felt better – physically and mentally – than when I was practicing yoga. I started taking classes at the gym last fall when I wasn’t feeling “flexible” enough and fell in love with it all over again. My friend Dana had been at Mala for about a year, and enticed/browbeat me into trying Steph’s Sunday basics class. I loved how straightforward the instruction was and how non-chanty the vibe was. I instantly knew this could be my yoga home, and I didn’t even know that I was looking. (Thanks, Dana!)

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

I am madly in love with pigeon.

I’m practicing ‘Leaning into fear’, but will admit that puppy makes me want to cry and crow kicks me in the teeth every time. Or maybe that was my mat.

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

Staying on my mat! I get on it almost every day of the week, but it takes an extra level of care to practice MY yoga, and not try to look like the person next to me or someone in the pages of Yoga Journal. I have mild hyper-mobility which has led to many injuries, so building strength is priority #1. I am completely rebuilding my shoulders right now, for example, and it’s meant asking a million questions, accepting and making adjustments to poses for my body and creating a plan to take into my home practice so that with small consistent action, I will affect change. What is so cool and comforting to me about yoga is that as my body changes, so does the work. There’s no peak to reach. I think about this a lot: “We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart.”-Pema Chodron. Yoga really is a lifelong practice.

What was the last Dharma talk that resonated with you?

Angela spent a lot of time in September/October on thankfulness. Before we began each class, she would ask us to come up with one thing that we were thankful for and to dedicate our practice to. Sometimes being thankful is so easy! Sometimes you have to dig a lot. One class I could only come up with ‘dolphins.’ Many many (many) times it was simply that I was on my mat, and that my mat was at Mala.

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

I can’t make it to class if I haven’t had coffee, so if I am drinking post-yoga, it’s usually a drink at Sample or 61 Local.

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

Wherever I happen to be.

How has practicing yoga shifted other aspects of your life?

Yoga is really an anchor for me. In the past year that I have been practicing at Mala, my professional and personal life has been incredibly unstable, and the practice sometimes felt like the only thing that was nailed down – always there for me, always positive – and that kept me going. Because I kept showing up on my mat, I gained physical strength, mental focus and got to practice being ok – being thrilled with – being a beginner. Recently I have been trying to actively shift that thinking into my daily life, so that there’s fewer times that I say/feel, “I can’t,” and more, “Bring it.”

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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