Yoga is a holistic experience for many — mind, body, spirit. But did one element or another first draw you to the practice? That is, were you seeking to settle your mind? Have greater physical flexibility? Explore your true, spiritual nature?
ha! I was 11 years old when I first began to dabble in yoga because I wanted to be cool like my older sister who was trying out Kareen Zebroff’s yoga on T.V. — in my early 20’s I was more serious and was equally interested in all aspects (body, mind, spirit), although to start I mostly focused on the body
How about now: does yoga feed your mind or your body or your spirit more, or are those elements more in balance than when you started?
for sure these elements are more in balance now … (and when they are out of balance, they are all out of balance together!)
How long have you been practicing yoga, and how frequently do you practice now?
if you included my dabbling in yoga, I have been practicing yoga for 50 years — for me, yoga is like brushing your teeth and for sure I practice some form of yoga every day
How long did you practice yoga before you started teaching it?
20 years (not including the dabbling)
Do you have a preferred yoga style?
I have practiced many styles but what calls to me most are the slower, more gentle approaches to asana and pranayama (breathing) so that the practice becomes a moving meditation
When you first took up yoga, what came easiest and what was more challenging?
my greatest challenge in yoga (and life) has always been to learn not to try so hard — like many, I began the practice of yoga wanting to “rock the poses” and look amazing — with time and practice and steady, mindful breathing, I slowly began to learn not to push, or force, or strive but instead relax and soften and open and become less concerned with how I looked and more receptive to what the body (and life) was trying to show me — I think this was one of my reasons for wanting to teach — they say we should teach what we most want to learn — I wanted to feel more connected . . . with myself, with others and with the earth
From your experience sharing yoga with children, can you generalize about what comes easiest for young people and what is more challenging?
kids are such natural yogis — they are like little gurus — they have so much to teach us about being in the body and in the moment — of course, “every body’s different” and some kids are easily discouraged or distracted — sharing ways to focus energy, calm energy, release energy can be very powerful (and fun) and kids tend to latch onto this quite quickly — I always tell kids that being “good” at yoga doesn’t mean touching your toes or perfect balance, it means being good at listening to your body, listening to your feelings, listening to your heart
What have been the greatest benefits of yoga for you?
oh wow! I think the benefits are endless — yoga helped me through my teens and through my pregnancies and the births of my babies — it has helped me with confidence and patience and a stronger back and calmer mind — I “played” yoga with my children and that yoga became our lifeline through the storms of teens — (later, through university and professional careers, two of my daughters taught yoga and another shared yoga with children and other teachers in her school) — yoga helps to improve my health and my sleep and my relationships and truly touches every aspect of my life in a powerful and profound way — I believe yoga is a gift we give ourselves
Apart from yoga, do you practice other techniques of mindfulness or meditation?
yes, I practice pranayama, (breathing practice) meditation, (in different forms, walking, sitting, body scans, sound etc.) mantra and yoga nidra
Outside of a yoga session, do you ever just strike a pose and stretch? If so, which pose(s) and where?
absolutely, I often balance or practice a hip stretch while brushing my teeth, I’ve been known to squat while watching TV or sit in hero’s pose if I’m digesting a large meal, or tuck into tortoise pose during ads, and sometimes I will swing my legs up the wall while chatting with my sister on the phone
You have a choice: lead a yoga class (1) outdoors on a beautiful day, overlooking the ocean, or (2) in a well-designed, very comfortable minimalist indoor space. Which do you pick?
as much as I love to connect with nature, if I am leading the class, I would choose the indoor space in order to better build and contain the energy
If I gave you an expenses-paid yoga retreat, where would you go?
—interview © Marshal Zeringue