The Yogi Next to You


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

I tried yoga once during the summer between high school and college, and I did not like it at all. This makes perfect sense because I was still recovering from knee surgery, and was frustrated that I couldn’t do most of the poses. Sadly, this frustration kept me away for many years. I found Pilates to rehab a spine injury when I was 20, and eventually certified as an instructor in 2007. That year, I went to India and rediscovered yoga with a friend who was a lifelong practitioner and teacher. I was hooked. Unfortunately, circumstances of my life kept me away again – this time for the two years that I was a full-time slave to graduate school.

After graduation, I moved to Congress Street and was thrilled to find Mala right around the corner. I was (and still am) so grateful to have such a warm and friendly – not to mention experienced and talented – group of teachers at the studio. Mala has definitely enriched and strengthened my yoga practice, and when I move from Cobble Hill, I’ll have to commute to class!

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

I adore ankle to knee pose, parsvottanasana, and could certainly hang out in supported bridge all day long. Never say never, but I often wish to wave goodbye to handstand. Ninja death pose falls into an interesting love/hate category.

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

As with most of my life, learning patience and humility is often difficult. I guess that’s why I love yoga so much. I show up on my mat – which is often the hardest part – and the rest just happens. I am automatically more patient and humble by the end of the practice. Yoga helps me learn to aim for progress not perfection.

What was the last Dharma talk that resonated with you?

A few weeks ago, Lindsay was talking about remembering to be gentle with ourselves, and I really related to this. I have to admit that I love every Dharma talk, as it always seems to reminds me of why I show up in the first place: to practice mindfulness.

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

I’m so spoiled to live around the corner from Mala, so I usually grab a kombucha at the deli, and either retreat to my sofa, or to Cobble Hill Park if it’s warm out.

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

That’s the thing – I could practice yoga anywhere in the world, and I do! I love that I can just carve out a piece of time in my day no matter where I am, and try to get centered. But to speak geographically, I would love to go back to India and spend some time at an ashram now that yoga has become such a regular part of my life.

How has practicing shifted other aspects of your life?

I find that the brief meditations and the start and end of each class have become essential for me. Also, dedication to my yoga practice helps me be more committed and available in relationships, at work, and just in general. Balance is something that I’m always looking for, and yoga helps me stay on the path toward finding 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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