ALEX MCROBS AND THE MLPC
A place for mindfulness, life, practice and community.
One afternoon about two weeks into the pandemic’s peak, I was feeling the fear. Like many others, I was crying myself to sleep at night, charged with anxiety and just generally freaked out over whether or not I was ever going to see my parents again. I all of a sudden felt much less alone when I saw that Alex McRobs was inviting her Facebook friends to free yoga classes on Zoom as an effort to keep herself and others grounded during this peculiar time.
I knew Alex from Kuwait, where she taught hot yoga on Thursdays at Alive Yoga, a studio I would to frequent. On slightly quieter Thursday evenings when I had a little extra time between work and whatever gathering, dinner or looming anxiety attack I had in store for later that evening, I’d hop into my car and speed through Kuwait’s hellish traffic and constant construction from my (then) Shuwaikh port office to Alive’s little oasis in the capital for some much-needed yoga. Alex’s hot flow was as rejuvenating then as her Sunday and Wednesday barre classes are now. Though I took those days for granted in 2017, reconnecting with her has been a blessing, and I’ve gotten to know how strong her drive really is! She started off sending us little timetables of class times by email, then we’d hang out after class with other people practicing to talk about how we were all feeling. And from that came the sharing circles, then the apps, the seminars, adding more teachers and classes and so on and so forth until the Mindful Life Practice Community was born.
Watching the MLPC grow has been a wonderful thing to witness, and being part of the community has been an honor. The MLPC does a lot to keep us all in tune with ourselves and keep us busy and discovering during a time where life lacks comfort and normalcy. It’s evolved from Alex and her mat on Zoom to sharing circles, a book club, workshops and webinars and even a podcast, which I co-host with Alex! (Chaturanga the Podcast - has anyone been listening?) so, of course, I have to applaud this wonderful person for managing to bring a global community of people together through one common interest: yoga. Whether you’re new to the mat and you’re only a little bit curious about the ancient practice, or you can easily lift yourself up into a tripod headstand from a forward fold, you best believe the MLPC is a happy place for everybody, and we have the lovely Alex to thank for that.
Alex! How are you? How have you been holding up? Introduce yourself for the intro!
Hi! Thank you so much for inviting me to be interviewed on the Calico Comment! I’m Alex, and I’m a yoga teacher, Sober Life Coach and Barre Instructor. I am the creator of The MLPC, The Mindful Life Practice Community, which is an online soul centre for live and on demand yoga, barre, Pilates, meditation, and coaching. I am also the creator of Sober Girls Yoga, and run challenges to help women stop drinking and commit to a daily yoga practice. I’m also a teacher and have been an expat in the Middle East for the last six years.
So, talk us through it: How did the MLPC start?
I have been teaching yoga for longer than I’ve been a school teacher, and I’ve always dreamed of going full time into yoga but didn’t really see how it would be possible. About eighteen months ago, after I got sober I went to see a psychic. Meeting him was pivotal - he told me that I was going to create a business in yoga & coaching that was going to be very different. At that stage, I had no idea what a life coach even was, and had no vision for this...but seeing him was such a crucial moment for me because it unlocked a belief in my potential that I never would have had before. I started putting all of my effort into this dream: courses to become a certified life coach, a barre instructor, a spinning instructor, and to design workshops and yoga retreats. It really took off when the COVID lockdown occurred and I was all of a sudden forced to stay home and had a clear window of space to create. That’s when the real heart of the community was born.
What made you go for your YTT in the first place?
Not long after I took my first yoga classes, in 2010, I knew it was my life purpose to become a yoga teacher. I have struggled with my mental health since I was a teenager, and on my yoga mat was the only place I felt grounded and centered. I became a yoga teacher because I wanted to share that with others.
How has launching the MLPC evolved your own yoga practice?
The MLPC has evolved my yoga practice because I’ve had to be extremely committed to it. At other times in my life it’s been easy to float in and out of it, losing commitment when going on vacation, for example. But with the MLPC, I’ve had to show up almost every single day to teach in seven months. It’s forced me to become much more committed, and with that commitment my practice has really advanced. I am approaching poses that I’d never thought I could before, and I feel more calm, committed and balanced.
How advanced in the yoga do you feel somebody has to be to go for their YTT (asking for a friend.)
Haha! Tell your friend not to worry about how advanced their practice is! When I first did my YTT, I worried that my own practice wasn’t advanced enough because I couldn’t do handstand. I showed up on the training and my physical practice was actually quite more advanced than many participants. And It’s six years later, and I still can’t handstand! I think if you’re caught up in the asanas,and how advanced your asanas are, you’re focusing on the wrong things. I’ve met lots of very advanced instructors with a strong physical practice who don’t embody the philosophy of yoga - and vice versa. I’ve met teachers who have a foundational level of asana practice but whose hearts are really in the right place. I wouldn’t say how advanced you are at yoga poses matters. You will know when it’s the right time for you to do your yoga teacher training. Your intuition will call you.
Ok, onto a more serious question: you’ve practiced or taught yoga in different places throughout the world. Do you feel that there’s a pivotal difference in the way that yoga is practiced in different places around the globe?
That is a great question! I don’t think it’s practiced differently in different places - I would say the community and culture of the studio or gym or community where you are practicing matters the most. There are studios everywhere where yoga is serious and respected, and also some studios where it is not taken very seriously. I haven’t noticed a major difference from country to country, but I’ve noticed differences within the countries themselves, if that makes sense! Do your research to find the right place for you (and in some places geographically it is tricky to find the right studio, at which point the MLPC is for you!)
How do you want the MLPC to contribute to the evolution of mainstream global yoga practice? (I almost said “modern” hahaha)
I think the biggest evolution that I want the MLPC to be part of is the concept that you can have a yoga community in your home. We’re bringing yoga communities to remote locations. When you have a yoga community in your house, it means you can live anywhere and still be part of this group that keeps you grounded, connected, and committed to your practice. This was my biggest challenge in Kuwait - feeling so isolated that I didn’t have a community like this. I love that the MLPC has created that and I want the MLPC to be part of this evolution onwards.
They say that yoga is for everyone, and you know I believe that too. But do you think that globalizing yoga is attuned to culturally appropriating it?
This is a great question! I definitely have had mixed feelings around my yoga practice after learning about Cultural Appropriation in my Gender Studies degree. It is such an amazing tool which is why it has gone global and reached so many people. However, when we teach only some elements of it, like the asanas, and ignore it’s philosophy, we dilute it’s meaning. I think that we shouldn’t stop practicing yoga after learning about its roots in colonialism, but we should continue to ask questions about how we can practice yoga from a place of respect, for authentic and meaningful cultural exchanges to occur.
Rank your yogas! Favorite practice to least desired practice.
My favorite practice is with the MLPC! Seriously, I love the convenience of being able to practice from anywhere, and the beauty of not having to leave home.
I do miss the yoga studio environment however and hope soon to be practicing again in a community. My dream is to open a studio in Bali and then we can all practice there, close to the outdoors!
Rank your postures according to your favorite!
Legs Up the Wall
Aaaah so many! I want to list them all.
Finally, where do you see this going?
Calico Comment? I am so excited to be included by being interviewed and I am so excited to see it’s growth! Yasmine, you are so talented and I can’t wait to see where you take it.
Hahaha no, I meant the MLPC but that was cute!
I see the Mindful Life Practice Community evolving into having its own physical location somewhere in a rainforest! (Bali, Sri Lanka, or Costa Rica...) where people can come, connect, practice yoga, meditate, get support to quit alcohol, and have spiritual retreats. From there we will continue to offer our Zoom classes in various timezones, for participants all over the world.
Is there anything else you’d like to share <3
Thank you for including me! I am so happy we reconnected this year! Any of Yasmine’s friends looking into trying yoga, check out @TheMLPC! We would love to have you join us! :)