The Yogi Next to You


Ana Stieglitz - YNTYWhat’s your yoga story? How did you find Mala?

Yoga has been a journey that keeps unfolding for me. It started in my early teens when my aunt introduced me to Gurumai Chidvilasananda at the Siddha Yoga Center in Mexico City.  The colorful chanting session followed by the deep silence of meditation fascinated me.

Later on I started with Hatha Yoga. Having a background in Ballet, the physical aspects of the practice felt familiar to my body, and I quickly gravitated towards the ashtanga tradition.  I discovered a space where the “noise” quieted down. Since then, yoga has become a central piece in my life. I studied Jivamukti and Dharma Mittra Yoga for many years as well as the Iyengar method. These valuable teachings set important foundations for my practice.

After many years of searching I was still trying to find a mold in which I could fit. With a touch of recklessness, my personal doubt grew over time to the point of having a breakdown. At that point it became clear that I had misunderstood something. This turned out being a blessing because in many ways it was an opportunity to start over. It has been a challenging and beautiful process. I also feel lucky for having met great teachers (on and off the mat) along the way.

A few years ago my family and I had the fortune of meeting Mark Whitwell. Inspired by Krishnamacharia, his teachings have amazing depth and knowledge. He has also been a direct student of TKV Desikachar for decades.  While re-learning the basic Principles of Yoga I realized that what I had looked for in my practice was something very immediate. It had more to do with self-honesty, acceptance and appreciating what is in the moment; not about some future accomplishment or enlightenment. Acknowledging this truth has been a gift far greater than achieving any “advanced” pose.

I recently completed a 200-hour Teacher Training with J. Brown (at Abhyasa Yoga Center) and I’m continuing with Ayurvedic studies and private teaching.

When my family and I moved to Cobble Hill, we didn’t know how lucky we were to find Mala Yoga right down the street. Our outstanding teachers Stephanie, Angela, Christina, and Lindsay have been a gift to our practice — and our lives. As they continue to inspire us with ongoing support, their unique voices resonate deeply with my process.  Mala continues to grow as a strong platform where I’ve been able to find valuable friendships, and a community our family is grateful for.

What pose do you want to do all day?

Pigeon, paschimottanasana, and supported fish.

What pose could you never do again?


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

Having a flexible constitution has been a challenge over time. Unfortunately I had to learn through injury to take care of myself and recognize my limitations; to not push past the limits misinterpreting the meaning of “working hard.” I’ve learned that the “no pain, no gain” mentality doesn’t really serve my practice since pulling back is where I sometimes find the balance.

By embracing a breath centered/therapeutic approach my body is healing and I’m developing a personal practice. This process of finding a balance between strength and flexibility has also created more awareness of my mental-behavioral patterns. “Letting things be” without the need to “fix it” gives me plenty to work on.

Another challenge for me has been to develop the discipline of a self practice. As I’m starting to teach more I see the relevance in having a clear sense of it; since it is from my experience that I am able to share the practice. As I learn to trust my intuition, and with the specific guidance of fine teachers, I am developing a sense of rootedness and belonging in my practice that feels both distinct and unified.

What was the last Dharma talk that resonated with you?

I remember Stephanie’s talk about having a beginners mind.  Experiencing our practice and our lives with fresh senses, without judgement or expectation.  I also often think about a talk with Lindsay about “states” and “stages”. “States” described as more ephemeral aspects of ourselves. Meanwhile, as we grow spiritually, we move through different “stages” in an upward spiral, towards a more holistic and comprehensive view of ourselves and the world.

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

Nectar. The best green juice!

How has practicing shifted other aspects of your life?

Yoga brings me to my center.  I like Mark Whitwell´s saying yoga is “strength/receiving”. For me yoga is an offering and a gift that affects all aspects of my life. My practice creates a space and silence where I can restore and become a better listener.  Yoga helps me to be more present to perceive the subtle connections and relationships that make life meaningful and sustainable. When I practice I am more proactive, loving and responsible toward myself, the people I love and the world I live in.

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. yogattc says:

    The self which is inside each one of us has lost its naturalness and above all its pristine behavior .That is the one which we born with and have entangled our self in worldly things and affairs we have polluted ourself. By Doing yoga we need to bring he harmony,steadiness and continuity of the peace prosperity and comfortably. This calm steadiness of the senses is called yoga. Katha Upanishads Yoga

  2. yogattc says:

    In yoga one faces face a transformation of the psyche which is the root cause of our whole mental life

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