The Yogi Next to You


Yogi Next to You - Ellen DoyleWhat’s your yoga story? How did you find Mala?

I signed up for a yoga class to help my lower back pain in college.  The class was held in what seemed to be an old forgotten closet in the back of the athletic facility.  My teacher dressed and looked like the cat lady in A Clockwork Orange.  She was at least 60, came to class with her “set”, wore stockings and a leotard and demonstrated inversions with the ease of 22 year old.  She was awesome.  I remember walking out of class feeling very awake and rejuvenated.

I found Mala after my cousin-in-law (I do not think that is a term but it should be!) recommended Mala to me when I first moved to Brooklyn.  But I was on a yoga hiatus trying to heel a hip injury through intense Physical Therapy.  I finally tried a class at Mala and then another.  After a few classes at Mala my hip felt better than after six months of PT.  I dropped PT and dusted off my mat.

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

Legs up the wall- is this even in the yoga posture canon?  Well, it is in mine! I am a high school teacher so I am on my feet for long stretches.  Sometimes I barely get my coat off when I get home and my feet are up the wall. I am weary of back bends but usually try some modified version with lots of props!

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

My cranky right hip- I had bursitis and I still have a labrum tear that creates tightness down in my right leg into the arch of my foot.  I was shocked when I returned to Stephanie’s class a few weeks after my first and she remembered my name and my hip injury.  The modifications and stretches Stephanie and all the teachers have showed me have helped my work through and around my injury.  But more importantly they have taught me to stay positive and be patient.

What was the last Dharma talk that resonated with you?

Anna gave a talk about procrastinating one Sunday afternoon which was what I was doing by attending yoga class instead of lesson planning for the week.  It was just what I needed to hear!

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

I am strictly a tea drinker. And I love to get a hot tea and a one of those magical buttered pretzels rolls at Café Peddler.

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

Recently I just got to practice yoga in India, which was always a far flung yogi dream of mine. I spent three months in Mysore India on a Fulbright Fellowship.  I was very lucky to be able to squeeze a month of yoga at K. Pattabji Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute.  Waking up everyday at 5:00AM to practice  (and face my fear of the stray street dogs on my walk to the shala) was an intense, wonderful and invigorating yoga experience.  I have never felt stronger- but I missed my props!

How has practicing shifted other aspects of your life?

Yoga has helped me sit still.  I do not like to close my eyes and focus on my breathing- because I always want to be “doing” something like checking my email, correcting papers or creating yet another to do list. Because I am always in motion, I am the person that needs to sit and just breathe every couple of days.

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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