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4 the LOVE of Yoga!

Yogini of the Month ~ April Yoga Spotlight Interview

Meet Maralee…this strong, beautiful and amazing 64-year-old yogini was into yoga before yoga was popular in the US.

WHEN did you first begin your yoga practice?

This is difficult, as I think I predate yoga becoming widespread in the US. Growing up in the 50’s, young girls in my little town had a choice of lessons in ballet, tap, or acrobatic dance.  I chose acrobatics, and loved it.  I practiced daily to make myself into a twisty contortionist.  We walked on our hands with our toes touching our eyebrows and did splits between kitchen chairs while we watched cartoons after school.  Yoga asana’s are so similar to things I did over 56 years ago, I can’t separate them.

Think back…what did you think/feel about your FIRST yoga class?

My first yoga class was in 1976 in my basement.  My mother was visiting from New York, and had started teaching yoga there, and offered to give a class for my friends.  I remember being impressed by her guided meditation but not too impressed by the poses.

By 1980, I met a woman who’d recently immigrated from Persia and gave classes in her garage.  We lived in Dallas at the time, and slowly classes popped up around town, gradually moving out of homes into commercial spaces.  I didn’t get serious about regular attendance until the late 90’s when I signed up for a Nazi Bikram class.  I was instantly hooked, and attended a 6:00 AM class 5 days a week.  By 2000, I’d moved and found a wonderful power yoga studio that I went to for a couple of years almost daily.  I am never happier than when I live near a studio that has challenging classes everyday.

Is your practice more therapeutic (gentle, restorative, slow) or power-based and why did you choose this style of practice?

I love power based yoga because it’s a wonderful workout and helps me stay strong.

What is one yoga pose you NEVER thought you’d do and are now doing?

As to what yoga pose I do now that I never thought I would be doing?  Well, in my head, I can do almost anything I might try.  I have a memory, like riding a bicycle, of being able to extremely difficult poses, handstands and beautiful back bends and walkovers and perfect splits, etc. I’m always somewhat shocked when I’m not strong enough of flexible enough to do a pose as well as I’d like.

What’s your favorite yoga asana (pose)?

These days my favorite poses might be the long slow warrior poses with twisting variations, because they have so much going on.  I’ve found my yoga practice changes depending on my teachers.  I wish I had a power yoga class to attend everyday.  I love having a teacher that brings new poses to my practice, and that will push me to the point of exhaustion.  It’s crazy but I never feel more alive than when I’m all stretched out and tuckered out in savasana. I do practice at home, sometimes with a recording of a favorite teacher from years ago, but more often just my own version of old feel good poses.  I prefer sitting on the floor or squatting, instead of chairs.  Just as when I was a young girl, I often watch TV upside down. I always sit in fixed firm pose in the bath tub, I do a chair pose waiting 2 minutes for my Sonicare toothbrush to do it’s job, and think kitchen cabinets are wonderful props for balancing.

How have you, personally, benefited from yoga (physically, mentally or spiritually)?

I believe yoga has improved and extended my quality of life as I’ve aged.  I’m turning 64 within a month and feel proud that I am still flexible and strong, even if I can’t do everything I once could.

More about Maralee….”I am an RN, and live in Flat Rock with my fairly new husband who’s fit and fun for an old guy.  We have a wonderful life, and yes, I will always have a yoga practice.”

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