The Yogi Next to You


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

I fell into yoga while looking for a complement to the dancing I was doing in college, so I followed (reluctantly at first, I’ll admit) my roommates to some yoga classes and got hooked. My practice really deepened when I began working as a doula, for clients experiencing miscarriages, terminations or births. I was looking for a way to reliably carve out space for myself after such emotional work.

Internet reviews lead me to Mala and I immediately knew I’d found my yoga home. I loved the community and the focus on anatomy and alignment. I’m currently applying to medical school, so with all Steph’s talk of the greater trochanter I can almost write off my time at Mala as studying.

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

When I’m in Half Moon/Ardha Chandrasana what Anna says about finding lift from grounding down really clicks. There’s this specific alignment in the pose where everything falls into place and I actually feel lighter.

On the other hand, Crow/Bakasana sits smack at the frustrating intersection of my pointy shinbones and fluctuating arm strength. Oh yeah, and visions of nose-diving into the floor.

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

I’m a hugely cerebral person and quieting my internal dialogue is a real battle. I’ve stopped trying to fight the process and just reroute the focus instead, turning my internal analysis onto my alignment and physicality in poses instead of my great white whale of a to-do list. It has definitely helped to turn down the volume on my brain.

What was the last Dharma talk that resonated with you?

I love when Steph talks about how falling out of a pose is your body giving you information. It’s an amazing way of looking at what can be a frustrating experience. Reframing Ninja Death Pose not as a malevolent curse on my quads but as an assessment of the quality of my muscles on that specific day can make all the difference in how I approach the pose.

This concept especially resonates with me as a doula. As a doula, I’ve witnessed how during physically intense experiences like labor (or yoga!), reframing pain or other sensations as information can allow clients to feel greater ownership over their bodies which goes far in reducing fear and increasing confidence.

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

Nectar for a smoothie. There’s never a question that I’ve been at Mala when I come home sweaty with mango-breath.

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

This summer I spent some time in Turkey and would love to go back. Yoga on the Lycian Way would be amazing.

How has practicing shifted other aspects of your life?

As a doula, my work can be extremely emotionally intense. I regularly work with individuals experiencing the profound grief of a fetal anomaly diagnosis or deep fears around medicine. Of course it can also be joyous (hanging out with a seconds-old baby is awesome!), but I rarely get a chance to decompress while working.

My yoga practice has absolutely better equipped me to do this work. Using the uninterrupted space of a yoga class to check in with myself mentally and physically allows me to better support my clients knowing that I’m also doing work to support my own well being. It’s also completely changed my relationship to my body and I’ve loved learning my physical quirks, strengths and challenges.

I’ll even admit that I find the teachers at Mala so inspiring, I’ve nicked some of their techniques. Anna’s method of counting breaths is so calming yet motivating that I sometimes find myself utilizing it with my clients.

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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