The Yogi Next to You


The Yogi Next to You - Marco Jo ClateWhat’s your yoga story? How’d you find Mala?

I was introduced to Surya Namaskar by my acting teacher in college! I fell in love with this way of moving and offering.  Then I transferred schools and forgot all about it!

After graduation I found myself running around New York City –  dance classes, rehearsals, auditions, waiting tables, and stressing my body and soul to the limit. I was working so hard to be or become an artist, yet I had no time or space to check in with myself…to listen. Then I wandered in to Integral and took a class and I remembered this great love, though I was still not quite ready to commit.

Somewhere in between acting, dancing, writing plays, starting theatre companies, I moved to Brooklyn, and discovered The Energy Center just down the way on Wyckoff Street. Here, I found a retreat, a place that I could show up. I realized that I was running around filling up and never emptying out.  I learned to make some space, to watch, to listen, to take a breath, to be more present in my theatre work. I showed up for a few years straight, and completed my teacher training there. I was in the last training class before this beloved studio closed!

I came to Mala by way of practicing with and next to Christina, Stephanie, and Angela at another studio, and have found in Mala, another neighborhood gem in which to practice, learn, and grow both as a student and a teacher!

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

I love Marichyasana 1, Ardha Chandrasana, handstand…and recently supine Gomukasana. And I find the space between poses pretty revealing! I would not, however, miss jump backs – unless my arms grew another inch or two!

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

My biggest yoga obstacles…hmm…that’s getting pretty personal.  I could say I get frustrated with this hip and that shoulder…but ok, really… my obstacle is that sometimes, when I get busy with the multitasking madness of motherhood, I think I don’t have time to practice, I imagine what life will be like when I have more time to practice, I reminisce about how much I used to practice! Then when I actually roll out my mat (sometimes amidst a floorful of toys and crumbs) I realize again that with practice all is coming…aha! That is real and undeniable. The more I roll it out, the more I find time to roll it out!

What was the last Dharma talk that resonated with you?

I took a workshop with Tias and Surya Little during the summer. Tias gave a great talk about abiding in not knowing, coming to your practice with empty hands, with the curiosity of a child, and allowing for an openness which allows us to be more present and takes hold. Such a helpful reminder of how make the ground fertile for practice and possibility.

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

I enjoy a carrot, celery, and beet juice at Nectar! Or an Iced Coffeee. Or both!

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

I have never laid my mat down on a mountain top! I think that would be nice. Make that one with no snow. Maybe just a hill in Tuscany!

How has practicing yoga shifted other aspects of your life?

Practicing yoga has shifted my life in so many ways. I have learned to trust the creative process more fully. I know that if I show up on the page, I will write a play or a story, and sometimes I will like it, sometimes I won’t, but I have the tools to help it evolve. I might struggle, but I don’t fear or repel struggle the way I used to. I can sit with it, give it space, and it will work out one way or another. I let go of ‘perfect’.

I have a new user friendly concept of Faith.  I trust that if I show up, something will happen, then something else, and, ultimately, growth and change will happen – in parenthood, relationships, in trying anything new.

My relationships feel more true, and less cluttered with speculation and reaction.

I giggle a little each time I tell my four year-old that whatever new thing he is doing – writing his name, painting a shell, brushing his teeth – takes practice. Because I really mean 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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