Teacher Spotlight: Marie



What first brought you to yoga and why did you decide to start teaching?

I tried my first yoga class in college, it was a class based on the Ashtanga Led Primary series and I was immediately hooked. What initially drew me in was my desire to be strong, flexible, and able to do the cool poses I saw in magazines (Instagram did not even exist yet!) For the first few years after I graduated college my practice fell to the wayside, as I never really found a class or a studio where I felt like I fit. I eventually found my way back to yoga through a class given at work that as it turned out also happened to be based on Ashtanga. Through that class I was introduced to Mysore Ashtanga, which is a structured daily practice in which the student works closely with a trusted teacher as they progress through their practice. I have been practicing Mysore since 2014 and decided to become a teacher in 2018. I became motivated to become a teacher in order to increase the representation of black women in the Mysore Ashtanga sphere and to share this practice with other people of color.  

What have you found that yoga brings to you when you feel the pressures of the world around you?

My practice grounds me when I feel myself becoming overwhelmed. Being able to return to my mat everyday, no matter what is going on my life, brings me a sense of comfort and resiliency. Although Mysore Ashtanga can seem like a strict and rigid system with little room for flexibility, it has been an empowering process in which I've learned to show up for myself both on and off the mat with compassion and acceptance. 

How has yoga changed your perspective on what it means to be a black woman in America?

I've always struggled in feeling comfortable in my body and believing in my right to claim anymore space than was necessary. Through my yoga practice, I learned how to understand and accept myself, which has ultimately given me the strength to stand fully in my black womanhood: physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. 

How do you bring the practice off the mat and into your everyday life?

One of the most important lessons I've learned is how to show up for myself and create healthy boundaries. I think as black women, we're bought up in a culture to put others before ourselves even to the point of going against our own intuition or best interests. On the mat, you learn to listen to your body and make the decisions in your practice that are best for your own well being. In my every day life, I'm learning to prioritize my own needs and embracing my own vulnerability.

What is one area of your life where you are cultivating an energy of expansion?

I am a total introvert and it can be really easy for me to fall into a rut (I love routine!). This year I'm focused on meeting new people, expanding my community, and investing in my relationships.

What is your go to self-care practice?

I have several. For the day to day, its my skincare routine. I like being able to take those 10-15 minutes in the morning to just pamper and feel good about taking care of myself. When I have larger blocks of time, I love to read and journal which I try to make time for at least once a week.

What is your personal mantra?

"I have a right to show up and exist in this world fully and wholly." 

As a black women in this country, we are constantly bombarded with the message that in order to have value or prove our "worth" we must repress ourselves and be anything other than what we are (i.e. Black and Women). To live by these words unapologetically is radical and encourages me not to dim my light just to make others comfortable.

Brandon Copeland