Teacher Interview #14: Marie-Christine
Meet Marie-Christine. Our teacher in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. And that’s where Alex and Marie met...
Back when Alex was attending Queen's University, she was going to a local yoga studio in Kingston and was participating in their energy exchanging program (Energy Exchange is having unlimited access to yoga classes in exchange for hours helping in a studio, kind of like how I stared with the MLPC). During that time, in 2013, Marie was also participating in the same program, Alex running the front desk and Marie doing volunteer work. Both involved yogis but not yet teachers. A year later Alex finally did her Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) however, Marie missed the chance to take a class with Alex when she had to move to Ottawa.
Later into the years she finally took a class with Alex (thanks to the MLPC and Zoom during Covid-19 lockdown). Marie joined our team in January 2021. Quickly she was able to touch the heart of the community in North American evenings and formed what we now like to call the “home team”. Her style of teaching is inviting and opens a safe place for everyone to practice. She also enjoys taking classes like Restorative Yoga with Shavon and Mindful Barre with Alex.
I got the opportunity to interview Marie-Christine for our Teacher Interview Blog to get to know one of our newest addition to the team. Here’s her answers... enjoy...
Where in the world are you? Tell us more about yourself?
Marie-Christine: I live in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. I was born in Calgary, Alberta and grew up in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu in Quebec. I joined the military in the early 2000s and was posted to North Bay (Ontario), Comox (British Columbia), Egypt (for 6 months), and Kingston – where I landed (after a few trips to and from Ottawa, Ontario). This is the longest I have ever lived anywhere – I had plans and the world was busy rearranging them!
I (still) have a day job working in human resources. When I’m not working or hanging out with the MLPC, you can find me outdoors – swimming, dancing, moving, sky or star gazing, or forest bathing in my backyard with my feline teaching assistant, Minou.
How long have you been teaching yoga and what pushed you to become an instructor?
Marie-Christine: I completed YTT in 2019, my ecstatic dance facilitator training in 2020, and I will soon become a certified Nature & Forest Therapy guide in April 2021.
I eventually stopped waiting for the elusive “perfect moment” and took the plunge in 2019 after practicing for over a decade I sought a teacher training that focused on accessibility and inclusivity. It is empowering to know that despite not having full mobility and ability (from injuries sustained in military service), I can practice and I can teach, meeting myself where I am, moving and teaching from the heart, anchored in the present moment. <3
When did you start practicing yoga (before you started teaching) and how did yoga change your life?
Marie-Christine: I started practicing yoga and meditation in 2008 in a time of transition. I kept going back to community and movement practices through phases of change. Noticing how great regular practice made me feel – physically, emotionally, and mentally – I decided to make these practices an integral part of my daily life. I also went on this life affirming and life changing yoga retreat in Maine in 2018 and set things in motion from there.
These practices enrich my life so much – they turn what I have into “enough,” helping me find contentment in the little things. I also know that I have the power to change what does not serve me (and sometimes that’s my perspective). Every time I step on my mat, I get to care for and nurture my body and celebrate its strength and ability. Thank you yoga (and all practices) for these valuable life lessons!
“It is empowering to know that despite not having full mobility and ability (from injuries sustained in military service), I can practice and I can teach, meeting myself where I am, moving and teaching from the heart, anchored in the present moment. <3”
If you had to describe your teaching style, how would you?
Marie-Christine: Invitational, playful, inquisitive. Expect a giggle or two and an ever-so-small French accent.
What is the intention you try to instill in your students?
Marie-Christine: I encourage practitioners to listen to the sensations and feedback of their body and breath and to use these as their guides for how to experience my movement invitations. In my training, we created an opening class protocol that gives students full permission to experiment and to honour their edges. Expect to hear that empowerment message at the beginning of every class.
What is your favorite posture? Your least favorite posture?
Marie-Christine: Pass! Kidding, but not.
I have back and hip injuries, so backbends and deep hip openers are challenging (and some times not accessible to my body). I also have to watch how much load I bear on one of my shoulders.
I love flowing into shapes that remind me of how much mobility I have recovered since leaving the military. My regular practice yields slow and steady improvements, that’s for sure!
“Every time I step on my mat, I get to care for and nurture my body and celebrate its strength and ability. Thank you yoga (and all practices) for these valuable life lessons!”
What is your favorite Mat? And why?
Marie-Christine: The grass in the summer or a beach mat in the sand whenever possible. 😊
Set the scene for your perfect practice - paint us a picture!
Outdoors! By the lake. On a sunny day. With community, in community. The sound of waves and laughter as our playlist. Plenty of time to land, stretch, flow, stretch, meditate, and relax.
Followed by a swim and picnic. Campfire optional.
What’s the biggest myth about yoga instructors? Set the record straight!
Marie-Christine: Great question! Without my movement and mindfulness practices, it doesn’t take long for old habits and unhelpful thought patterns to resurface. So I guess the myth is that one day the work stops and that teachers have “arrived” at destination. Commitment and dedication to practice are lifelong.
What was one of your most heartfelt moments in teaching?
Marie-Christine: Since I started teaching just before the pandemic, my path has been all but linear. In my first space, a first-time student said she could understand and follow my style of teaching (demo, cue, name, explain). That made me feel really proud! Students often comment that they like receiving permission to explore and take or leave my suggestions. How amazing (and empowering!).
Any advice to newbies teachers/students? (And oldies?)
Marie-Christine: Don’t be afraid to take it slowly, to ask questions, to give your body time to get used to the practice. Oh – and a foundational, beginners’ series is a great way to introduce yourself to this practice.
And my advice to myself (and all regular practitioners) would be to live our yoga off the mat: to be open, playful, and curious. Practice and lessons abound. 😊
Where do you see yoga in the next five years?
Marie-Christine: Hopefully, we (nature and humans alike) are healthy again in 5 years and we can meet to practice safely in all types of environments. I hope outdoor yoga is here to stay too. It is so wonderful to practice outdoors and sky gaze during meditation. It would also be lovely to have persons from all walks of life represented in the yoga space – in and around the room, teaching, and training new teachers.
Gratitude to Marie for all that she does for the MLPC. You can flow with her in Slow Flow class and Slow Flow + Restore class. She also leads us through a pop up Ecstatic Dance class. Check the schedule with the link below to book a class with Marie-Christine.
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See you soon, may you all be safe, happy, healthy, and free.