Meet the Members
Yogi of the Month
1. What drew you to the mat?
As someone with a pretty regular practice now, I find it funny that for a very long time I just did not enjoy yoga. I had tried a handful of classes here or there in my twenties, but it wasn't until I was going through a particularly tumultuous period of loss in my thirties that I connected with myself on the mat. At that time, I had just gotten started with finding a vinyasa practice when I was set to head off on a 3 month solo backpacking trip in Southeast Asia, so I decided to sign up for an Ashtanga based yoga training while in Thailand on a whim. Finding a practice that embraced holistic traditional teachings with so much consistency was what really clicked for me, & once I returned to Wisconsin I knew I wanted to find a place where I could continue exploring yoga in that manner.
2. How does it feel to be a part of the Mala Yoga community?
I love being a part of the Mala Yoga community! With ashtanga being my main practice, I gravitate towards the mysore offerings & I know for a fact that having such a welcoming, tight knit group is what gets me up & on my mat consistently. Plus, since ashtanga can be such a challenging physical practice, I love that we always support each other by cheering each other on & laughing about the process together.
3. Outside of the yoga studio, what do you like to do?
I really enjoy traveling & hiking around in the mountains, but with covid travel restrictions lately, I've picked up painting again & started working on murals around Wisconsin (the one at Mala included!). My largest one recently is one I designed & created with Dane Arts Mural Arts at the Alliant energy center - it's a fun take on highlighting the world dairy expo, Dane county fair, & the Midwest horse show. It's right past the main entrance if you are in the area & want to sneak a peek!
4. What are your favorite yoga poses, your least favorite?
I always love a good savasana, & it feels extra delightful after a led ashtanga or led primary class when I've worked through my body to find that final rest. As far as least favorite poses go, anything inversions. There is just something about being upside down that my brain does not like. Most likely it's that good ol' self preservation & fear of falling thing.
5. What do you do to help stay motivated to come back to the mat?
Knowing that my yoga practice helps me connect with the best version of myself - spiritually, emotionally, mentally, & physically - is why I choose to show up on the mat, but finding a great community to practice with has been a key piece in getting me out of bed again & again especially in the dead of our glorious Wisconsin winters.
6. What's something most people might not know about you?
While I'm currently working on my doctorate in cell & molecular pathology & spend my days in a lab, I actually double majored in studio art & Russian studies in undergrad. For those who knew that already, a bonus tidbit - I really love blueberries & consume a horrifying amount every summer.
Teacher of the Month
1. What brought you to the mat?
I have dabbled in yoga for the last 20-25 years. I took a free course at UW when I was going to school here. I only took it for the athletic/workout aspect of it for many, many years. After moving to Chicago, I practiced sporadically, but then teaching in the Chicago Public Schools began to take its toll on my mental health. I felt overwhelmed, anxious & burned out. This was when my yoga practice took a very big shift. I still appreciated it for the workout aspect, but when I practiced regularly I began to feel the amazing benefits off the mat. When I went, I felt calmer. I felt like yoga was dependable. I knew I would feel better after a class than I had before the class.
2. What is yoga/what does yoga mean to you?
What I said above is still what yoga means to me now. I feel like I can go home to it. It makes me less ‘sticky’, both physically & mentally.
3. What impact has yoga has on your life? How have you been changed, evolved, &/or transformed?
Yoga has had a tremendous impact on my life. I did yoga during both of my pregnancies & feel like it helped so much. I also stuck with it when my kids were really little when I need a little escape from having babies 18 months apart. I felt stronger & more flexible when I practiced regularly.
Then during 2016, I was struggling, along with most of the country with the negative political climate. I really turned to daily yoga & it helped me deal with those tumultuous times. When I reflected on how much it helped me, I began to think about how I wanted to spread yoga, especially with younger people & kids. After many years of teaching, I knew kids, now more than ever, needed ways to deal with their anxieties & conflicts. So it was from there that my career of teaching Kids Yoga began. I still am teaching it in a few different settings, including a local preschool! & I am convinced there is nothing cuter than a 3 year old doing yoga poses.
4. What is your favorite style of yoga to teach? What is your favorite style of yoga to practice?
My favorite style to teach Vinyasa! I love building heat in my classes - & of course- working that core! Those are my favorite classes to take as well. I am a fast paced person, so Yin is hard for me, but when I do take a Yin class, I LOVE it, but it’s a rare occasion when I do.
5. What has been your biggest challenge on the mat? What has been your biggest milestone?
My biggest challenge on the mat- ego of course! I used to go at yoga in a ‘no pain, no gain’ way, & while I am moving away from that, my ego still rears it’s ugly head sometimes. I am always working on listening to my body instead of doing what I think a pose should ‘look’ like.
6. How do you incorporate yoga into your daily life, on & off of the mat?
I try to do at least a little bit of flowing yoga every day, even if it’s 15 minutes. Again, if I don’t, I feel like my back (& brain) get crunchy. I also feel like my yoga breathing helps me more off the mat than on it. When I am at my wits end as a parent & want to pull my hair out, I try to just take a few breaths before I explode. Sometimes, it even works!
7. What does yoga give you? What does yoga take away?
Yoga gives me time to myself & time to find gratitude. Every single time I do it, it gives me an opportunity to feel grateful. To feel grateful for my strength, my mobility & my ability to breathe. Yoga takes away my skittering mind - at least for a little while. It takes away my achey back & my tight hamstrings.
8. What other limbs of yoga are important to you?
Before I delved deeper in the study of yoga, I didn’t know yoga was more than just asanas, or the poses. But now one of my favorite limbs is the pranayama. I just am amazed at what a few conscious breaths can do for the nervous system. I love the idea that it is free and available to everyone in the world. Think about if everyone in the world learned just a few breathing techniques that they could use in conflict resolution or to help ease anxiety. The world would truly be such a better place.
I also really find that in the Yama limb, the aspect of Ahimsa really speaks to me. It is to be non-violent. I am not a violent person by nature, but as I have studied yoga more I have realized that this again can be along the lines of negative self talk, self doubt, talking to others, including my kids, in a disrespectful way. So the idea of working to be ‘non-violent’ in all my actions & words is something that I strive for.