The Yogi Next to You


Janna wrote a book, He Never Liked Cake.  Click here to read more about it, or click here to buy it! 

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

I was 15 and I saw a giant book on sale–Yoga Mind & Body by the Sivananda Vedanta Center. I bought it because I thought it would be cool to teach myself how to do a headstand. Senior year in college I opted for Hatha Yoga over every other Phys Ed class. I moved to New York and found hot, sweaty intense Bikram when I needed it most, in grad school. Bikram was what ‘got me to the mat.’

Just last summer, fresh from vinyasa teacher training and new to the neighborhood, I was walking up and down Smith and Court Streets making mental notes of the yoga studios, when I saw two very happy people with mats leaving Mala Yoga. I took my first class with Jen, then Christina and learned a thing or four about alignment. A week later I met with Angela and Stephanie to discuss teaching opportunities and that day I knew that I’d found teachers who would believe in me and my practice even on the days that I could not, because those days do happen.

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

Parsva Bakasana (Side crow): The flight of a good arm balance leaves me delightfully giddy. Sometimes I just want to break out in side crow wherever I am. Sometimes I do. Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Stand): Nothing feels right. It’s as though all parts of my body resist what I’m asking of them. Clearly, I need to carve out five minutes each day for me, my mat, my block, and a wall–and probably a strap.

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

Getting to my mat, quietly. I’m that yogi that sits down, chitta-chattering, still making lists. It is a conscious effort to slow it all down and choose to not multitask. If I choose an intention, then I am able to fill up my mind and breath with a singular thought. When I start ‘telling stories’ then I come back to my simple, singular thought.

What was the last Dharma talk that resonated with you?

Christina read Rumi’s The Guest House. There is something to be said for welcoming in that which frightens or angers you. I felt grateful for my challenges.

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

Cafe Pedlar for coffee and a palmier or Nectar for a PB&B. Depends on the hour.

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

The beach. There is nothing quite like back bending through the salt air and seeing the ocean meet the sand from upside down.

How has practicing shifted other aspects of your life?

Quantum. Seismic. These are words I’d use to describe the yoga shifts in my life. Not only have I found my best teacher within my practice, but I’ve found my biggest fan. I am who I want to be and where I want to be. I’ve learned to quit worrying and to simply show up. Oh, and I’m happy. Yeah, ask my friends–I’m wa-ay happier when I have a regular practice.

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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5 Responses to The Yogi Next to You

  1. Pingback: Oscillations: A Yogic Exploration of the Brain | MALA YOGA

  2. Pingback: Oscillations: A Yogic Exploration of the Brain | MALA YOGA

  3. Pingback: Oscillations: A Yogic Exploration of the Brain | MALA YOGA

  4. Pingback: Oscillations: A Yogic Exploration of the Brain | MALA YOGA

  5. Pingback: Oscillations: A Yogic Exploration of the Brain | MALA YOGA

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