The Yogi Next to You


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

After a few years of enjoying a moderate yoga practice (sometimes I could do crow pose, but headstand was out of reach), I developed tendonitis in my right wrist and had to immobilize it in a soft cast. I reluctantly gave up yoga, as it’s very hard to do down dog with a wrist brace.

The tendonitis eventually healed, but by then my old yoga studio had changed hands and I wasn’t crazy about the new staff. I was out of shape, too, so instead of going to yoga, I started running on the treadmill and lifting 8-pound weights, then 10-pound weights. Then one day I realized I was in better shape than I’d been before the injury.

It was time to go back to yoga. But where? Hot yoga? Too smelly. YMCA yoga? Only hour-long classes. Yoga for People? Too far from home. I was able to procrastinate for some time like this. Then one day my friend Barbara asked if I wanted to go to Mala with her, only two blocks from my home, and I had no more excuses. I pulled out the old yoga mat, found some clothes and went to class. And loved it.

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

At the age of, well, there’s no need to go into that, I have recently done my first handstand, my first headstand and my first arm stand. Now I can’t wait to try them again and again, for that adrenaline rush and feeling of accomplishment. I want to thank Jennifer for getting me there by helping me go upside down alone for the first time (with blocks), and Angela, Christina, Janna and Lindsey for giving me tips and assists all along the way. Now I can’t wait for the day when I do a headstand or handstand without the wall to support me.

As for poses I dislike, well, if I never heard bakasana, crow pose, again, that would be fine with me. I haven’t accomplished one since I restarted my yoga practice and I dislike trying (and failing). As Christina says, “Don’t say can’t.” So let’s just say “I don’t feel that crow is in my practice just now.” I’d like to shoot that crow and eat it for dinner. And I’m a vegetarian.

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

Fear is my biggest yoga obstacle – fear of falling, fear of injury, but fear of looking ridiculous is in there somewhere too. Overcoming fear is a tough one. I overcame some of my fear of inversions by going upside down on blocks by the wall, with my shoulders on the blocks. Once I got used to the feeling of being inverted, the rest was easier. But fear of falling on my head or breaking a wrist in crow pose, fear of knocking over an entire row of yogis in half moon pose – those are tough ones.

What was the last Dharma talk that resonated with you? 

I always enjoy the Dharma talks and the longer meditations. My favorite was a meditation led by Lindsey in which we visualized light come out from a diamond at our core and spreading out around the world. Beautiful.

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

Sometimes after yoga my friends and I have tea or coffee at Cafe Pedlar on Court and Warren. It’s close to Mala and we can usually find a place to sit for a few minutes and chat.

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

I had a massage once at a spa in the hills of Costa Rica, with a view out over a valley full of flowers and birds. I’ve never felt so peaceful, and I would love to practice yoga in a place like that.

How has practicing shifted other aspects of your life? 

Yoga gives me time, before class and during savasana, to be peaceful for a few minutes, collect my thoughts and make mental connections I might not otherwise be able to make. As a result, I often feel more peaceful, patient and understanding of those around me.

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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