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MLPC All-Stars: Jen and Maureen

As many of our community members know, the MLPC has started a couple of traditions since April: Monthly yoga challenges where our practitioners will complete 30 days straight of yoga classes (lived or archived), and to celebrate their success, we in turn badge them as “All-Stars”.

A pleasant surprise was that for our May challenge, we had not one, but two All-Stars!

You all might know Maureen, extremely personable, chatty and engaging with our fellow community members!

But lovely Jen has been practicing in solitude every single day thanks to her archives pass!

While both yogis have been practicing as polar opposites, they show us that sticking to your practice works best in whichever way it works best for you!  You can be just as committed to practicing alone as you are in a (Zoom) room full of people. If you’re anything like Jen, you’ll still make it to the end with as many practices tallied off as our sociable Maureen.

And now, without further ado, introducing our MLPC All-Stars! 

What inspired you to start practicing yoga?

J: I've had some mental health struggles over the last 3 or so years and it has gotten progressively worse. After spending a few months getting treatment I worked yoga into my daily routine once I was back home. It has really helped me to spend time each day caring for myself and gives me the opportunity to authentically check in and see how I'm doing.

M: I have always struggled with balance in my body. My doctors as a kid advised I take dance classes to help with this, which I enjoyed, but as I got older I needed something else. When I heard about yoga and saw the practice of physical balance, I was excited to try something new.

Have you ever had any experience with yoga before joining MLP?

J: A little, I've practiced yoga off and on for many years but have never really committed to doing it regularly - until recently.

M: I took a few classes that were offered for free at the school I worked at in Abu Dhabi and I enjoyed them. The teacher that offered them moved away, and when I looked for classes in the area, they had always seemed expensive, and my lack of knowledge of the variations of yoga classes intimidated me. I took classes from Alex and some others at a gym in Abu Dhabi for my last few months in the UAE, and I was hooked!

What’s your connection to the MLP?

J: Alex and I crossed paths a number of years ago while working at a summer camp in Canada. When I came across MLPC,  I reached out and we reconnected. I'm so grateful for this online community - thank you to Alex, all the teachers, and everyone else who contributes their time to this wonderful community!

M: My connection is only through knowing Alex- we worked together at a school in Abu Dhabi for 2 years. When quarantining began, I saw her posting about yoga classes and the MLP and I immediately thought, "I'm in!!". Her positivist attitude, and the connection we had as coworkers, drew me to practicing yoga again. I know not every yoga teacher's style suits everyone's needs, but after my first class with Alex, I learned what I needed out of yoga. I trusted in Alex and her vision for the MLP and was excited since I had moved back to the US and was missing taking classes with her!

How did you end up being so committed to yoga you made it to more classes than anyone else?

M: I definitely did not take as many classes as others- but my commitment was due to the peace I felt and how my body began to feel strong. I felt healthy, and felt like I was working towards something which during this uncertain time is a positive. My practice was the one constant in my life, and after each practice I felt calm and content, able to take on each day as it came.

*Jen was only practicing with the archives, and so she chose not to answer this question.

Did you face any challenges during the month of May?

J: There were some days when showing up on my mat felt challenging. I knew I would feel better afterwards and had to remind myself of that and am so grateful I pushed myself to. 

M:  There were a few days where I was feeling off and depressed, and on those days, my practice was unfocused and I was frustrated at everything in my practice. I wasn't able to enjoy the transitions, the movements, and my anger did not allow for my mind to rest. On those days, I knew that showing up and trying was enough, which offered some solace.

What are the biggest benefits you’ve reaped from your yoga practice?

J: Practicing daily has made such a positive impact on my mental well-being. It has been a key piece of my recovery. Showing up on my mat everyday has given me time and space to check in with myself to see how I'm doing, to be present and practice mindfulness, and get my body moving. It also offers an opportunity to stay connected with others in these times of social distancing. 

M: Yoga is a form of therapy in a sense- I come not only to build balance, muscle, work on my body, but to regulate my breath and adjust my way of thinking about my life. I am a happier person for doing yoga for all of these reasons. I originally came for a form of exercise and improving balance, and came away with a sense of community and a feeling of inner peace.

What’s your favorite posture?

J: Definitely legs up the wall, I find it so calming and restorative. I often do it for a few minutes each night before getting into bed.

M: I absolutely love any sort of spinal twist. My tension resides in my back, so any sort of spinal twist where we can stay for several breaths is AMAZING! I also really enjoy getting into pigeon, even though my pose does not look the same as a more practiced yogi. The pose feels very good for my body.

What’s your most difficult posture?

J: I'm slowly working on my crow pose. It's definitely going to take some time to get there. That's another thing I love about yoga - the opportunity to explore new things and have goals to work towards. 

M: Any sort of balancing poses that transition to another balancing pose without our foot touching the ground, something like going from a warrior 3 to extending our leg in front. I have learned how to transition into one of those poses in the best way for my body, but between the poses is difficult. After class today another is coming up into a high lunge! When I'm on my toes on my back foot I get very wobbly. My goal is to build my muscles to lift at least one foot in crow (eventually both)!

Any words of wisdom to those just starting out?

J: Don’t stress about getting the postures “perfect.” Focus on exploring movement and poses mindfully. Yoga is a journey and you don’t need to force anything. Breathe and see what feels good for you body and build on that. 

M: Relax and enjoy! Find your pace, knowing that there is no pressure to "keep up" or do every pose like everyone else. Having an open mind and showing up changes everything. Even in my first yoga class with Alex, I was ready to try anything. I did not feel like I was lesser for not doing the poses the same way as the person next to me, and focusing on my breath made a huge difference.

Will we be seeing you in as many classes during the month of June?

J: Yes! I had the archive pass class for May and am really exited about doing some live classes this month too! 

M: Hopefully! I intend to keep it as a part of my daily routine, as it relaxes my mind, awakens my body, and makes my day feel complete. I know as things in the US are beginning to open up, I might not be able to attend all live classes as intended, but the way it became a routine part of my day and seeing everyone in the classes means so much to me. 

Think you have a chance to be featured in July as our June MLPC All-Star? We're 8 days into this month's challenge! Keep practicing and get your answers ready for your interview next month ;)