The Yogi Next to You


Anna GreenbergWhat’s your yoga story? How did you find Mala?

My mom did yoga for years before I was born, and always had a home practice for as long as I can remember. I would join her sometimes. Even though I’d giggle and I didn’t really get it, a seed must have been planted there.

When I was in high school, Yoga Lab opened around the corner from our house and my mom started going there (where she met Steph who she obviously loved). I sometimes went by myself, but never to Steph’s class. I liked it a lot, but I was a pretty sullen teenager. I stopped liking everything for a while, except for boys, cigarettes, emo tunes, and art, which I later went to school for.

I didn’t do any physical activity whatsoever for a few years. I was pretty disconnected from my physical self. I got sick and depressed a lot. I had a lot of unhealthy friends and relationships. It wasn’t all bad, but there was a big piece of my life out of place. I did my last year of art school abroad in London and by the end of my time there, I was very ill.

While I was back at home recovering, my mom and I ran into Steph at the Starbucks across from Mala (which had newly opened) and it prompted us to start taking her class there together once a week. Well, I was in love, life changing, holy sh*t, why didn’t I get it before?

From when I was little up until my teenage years, I did gymnastics and dance and was very physical, but I never experienced a mind/body connection doing those activities, and I never felt like I belonged in myself. I developed a steady yoga practice and it made me strong and connected, inside and out, like nothing I had ever known. I completely fell in love with yoga through Steph, Angela, Christina, and Jen. It wasn’t long before I started fantasizing about becoming a teacher myself, but that’s another story. 🙂

What pose do you want to do all day?

Handstand. Time slows down when I’m with this pose. My mind gets quiet. It makes me feel whole (exactly the way virasana doesn’t!) I could go on and on. What a great pose.

What pose could you never do again? 

Virasana. Although I’m trying to shift my perspective on that.

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

Sometimes I don’t do things unless someone else is watching, or I have someone else in mind that I’m doing it for. I try to spend a good amount of time with teachers, peers, and books that inspire me, and while I do practice a lot, it’s usually in class, or on my own with the class/pose I want to teach and my students in mind. All of that is great, but I would like to get to the place where I can just be by myself on the mat and do my own thing. Not to reinvent the wheel or anything, but to be with the teachings and practice alone, for no other reason than to do them. I’m still working on it. I’ve got some plans.

What was the last Dharma talk that resonated with you?

For the past month I’ve been practicing with senior Iyengar teacher Kevin Gardener while he’s in town. He lives in Budapest and comes to New York City once a year to teach for about a month. I am inspired by pretty much everything that comes out of his mouth. He has so much wisdom and experience underneath everything he teaches.

One thing he talked about that particularly resonated with me and has since shifted my own practice and teaching, is the fact that yoga is a deliberate practice moving toward stillness, toward quietness. He said, “Yoga is a lose, lose situation.” You lose all these extraneous things you think you need. You lose who you think you are to be able to ask who you really are. Somehow during this month studying with him, I experienced the freedom and space and quietness that can be discovered when you practice in this deliberate, objective way. He reminded me of what we are really trying to do when we practice, and that is not to make more noise, not to distract, but to look and see directly, whether it’s easy or uncomfortable.

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

Cafe Pedlar is my favorite place to get coffee. For a while I wasn’t around in the morning because my teaching schedule took me other places, but now that I am teaching Thursday at 9:15am, I am all about it. 🙂

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

Right now, it would be in Budapest with Kevin Gardener. Because he lives there.

How has practicing shifted other aspects of your life?

I don’t fall down quite as much, and when I do I get back up and move forward instead of continuing to fall.

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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One Response to The Yogi Next to You

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

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