College athlete turned yogi Mary Strong understands that a more user-friendly practice can help otherwise-intimidated individuals learn to love yoga. Find out how ditching the Sanskrit, and easing up on the spiritual side helped Mary develop a teaching style that’s relatable, therapeutic, and dynamic.
Mary Strong’s user-friendly classes keep people smiling and exploring:
As a college athlete I turned to yoga to help heal some sports related injuries, and in my first class, I was completely lost and incredibly intimidated when the instructor called out the poses in Sanskrit. Plus, I wasn’t that flexible, and couldn’t relate to the spiritual side of the practice at all; but I did notice that my knee felt better, so I decided to stay with it. Eventually, as my physical practice deepened, I began to explore the emotional and spiritual elements, but I remember thinking: How many other people shy away from this amazing practice because they are intimidated, or don’t think they’ll be “good” at it?
Now that I’m a teacher, I try to eliminate intimidating factors by using language everyone can understand, music to inspire movement, and most of all, provide a safe space for inner exploration.
Although I’m happy to give my students what they think they want, which is challenging physical practice, what I want them to experience is what they truly need – patience, self-acceptance and love. You can’t really explain that with words because it’s a process the student needs to feel for his or herself as they practice. When it happens it’s an incredible revelation and everything else falls into place.
When I was building my studio, the words “Be Inspired” kept popping into my head, and it eventually became our tag line. Every aspect of the studio inspires me, and I’m especially moved by the people it attracts. The Green Yogi is a small, boutique studio, so we get to know our students on a really personal level. Watching their yoga journey unfold is incredibly inspiring.
I recently ran into one of my students, and she said, “I just want to tell you how thankful I am for your studio. It’s the only bit of peace in my day.” I started to well up knowing that something I created is making a big difference in someone’s life. I feel so much gratitude for those moments because it encourages me to continue living my purpose.