Mind, body, spirit — did one element or another first draw you to yoga? That is, were you seeking to settle your mind? Have greater physical flexibility? Explore your true, spiritual nature?
saw an article in Seventeen Magazine (when I was fourteen) and was immediately curious about the meditative and spiritual aspects of the practice, as well as the toning of my 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?
definitely feeds my spirit the most as I have been practicing mostly mantra & sacred sound in my personal practice … however I always begin with simple asana and grounding techniques prior to mantra practice
How long have you been practicing yoga?
since I was 14 … got serious at around 19, and now I am 42
How long did you practice before you began teaching yoga?
nine years of practicing regularly whether in classes or with books, and about 4 years of dabbling before that
Do you have a preferred yoga style?
my lineage home is Viniyoga or Yoga of TKV Desikachar — I like (and teach) a low intensity flowing asana practice — as I mentioned I have been more in study and practice of Nada Yoga, the Yoga of Sound and somewhat recently completed another 200 hour teacher training at Nada Yoga School in Rishikesh India (2020)
When you were starting out, what came easiest and what was more challenging?
holding the posture was easiest, settling the mind/blocking out distractions was (and still is) the most challenging
From your experience as a teacher, can you generalize about what comes easiest for beginners and what is more challenging?
I find that there is no straight answer to that as every individual is different — someone may have an injury or be going through something heavy and that will affect the whole practice — someone may be entirely athletic but often dissociative or unable to connect with the breath — someone may try yoga for the first time when they are pregnant — to generalize, I would say postures are easiest, but calming the random fluctuations of the mind (goals!) would be the most challenging
What have been the greatest benefits of yoga for you?
keeping ego in check, whether in a grandiose way, or a self-loathing way — reminders of unity, reminder of non-attachment — also, indeed, less inflammation, stress relief, less body pain
Apart from yoga, do you practice other techniques of mindfulness or meditation?
absolutely ~ as yoga has many limbs beyond the physical practice … the first two limbs I love to explore ~ svadhyaya (self reflection), isvara pranidhana (surrender) … and mantra practice as already mentioned, yoga nidra, goddess sadhana…
Do you regularly do other forms of exercise?
I am a runner and do a 5k almost every day — completed 3 marathons and probably 10 half marathons — lately I’ve been loving free weights
Outside of a yoga session, do you ever just strike a pose and stretch? If so, which pose(s) and where?
definitely — I love clasping my hands in a bind behind my back and folding forward extending my arms behind me (chest expansion) — random pigeon poses and hamstring stretches and prep for natarajasana (dancer) to get into the quadriceps post run
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?
100% outdoors overlooking the ocean — going there in my mind right now! — but wait … be here now!
—interview © Marshal Zeringue