The Yogi Next to You


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

I’ve been reflecting recently on how my yoga story has been one filled with a lot of grace. I began the physical practice with DVDs that came to me second hand, and never stopped practicing. I walked out of my first ever class four months later knowing yoga was what I was meant to do with my life.

I discovered the spiritual side when I happened to pick up discarded books on a sidewalk in Hawaii by Ram Dass and Krishnamurti. Without ever having taken a Jivamukti class, I was directed to their training, and was immersed in a life-changing training with them in NY.

I walked into Mala during “the yoga search” yogis new to NY must undergo, tired and disappointed with much I had found. After an initial class with Angela, and then that same weekend with Stephanie, I knew I had found what I was looking for. I landed at Mala at just the right time to start subbing and take on classes within a month.

Of course, that’s all from my current perspective. At the time, it all seemed like a lot of effort, a lot of patience, and a lot of me “doing stuff”. As life now seems 🙂 But it’s kind of remarkable how from a distance, there was so much grace at work, so much of something else “doing stuff”.

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

I’ve had so many favorites, and so many thorny poses along the way. At this point, I’m in love with sirsasana and variations and pinchamayurasana. Urdhva dhanuarasana is a thorny one right now.

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

Can I combine this question with the next??

What was the last Dharma talk that resonated with you?

I just went on a mini solo retreat upstate, about a four and a half hour drive from Brooklyn. I listened to Ram Dass’s All Here Now recording, which was recommended to me by the inimitable Jules. It’s one long amazing dharma talk that I would love to pass along as a recommendation. It would be impossible to encapsulate it – but a portion:

“You have to give up knowing you know to be it all. It’s surrender of the guy who knows. The Westerner is not ready because he wants to know he knows.”

This is just really something that speaks to me to work on, and is one of my biggest yoga obstacles. I love learning and “knowing” about yoga – books, recordings, podcasts, dharma talks, etc. Give me more, all day long, I’m there! 🙂

The way Ram Dass says it, you just have to laugh at yourself – which is the best way to deal with all yoga obstacles.

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

I usually head back to my home in Park Slope for a soy latte at Cafe Regular or Hungry Ghost.

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

With Michael Stone in Toronto.

How has practicing shifted other aspects of your life?

Tangibly: I became vegetarian. I moved to NYC from Hawaii to study yoga. I actually read and enjoy nonfiction books (although only about yoga:) ). I live as earth-friendly as possible. I listen to Jai Uttal and other yoga musicians. And, I have an amazing group of inspiring friends in my life.

Intangibly: A collection of choices, perspectives, and insights that are only possible with the kind of work that the practices of yoga encourage, and I’m not quite sure how to describe succinctly, without sounding false or saccharine. But I’m sure you know what I mean, Mala yogis:)

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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2 Responses to The Yogi Next to You

  1. Pingback: The Yogi Next to You | MALA YOGA

  2. Pingback: Swift and Long – a lesson | Jen Whitney

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