This month, the Hot Tribe is celebrating our 4-year anniversary. In addition to our party on December 11, 2015, it is also our privilege to interview Mary Martin, a Hot Tribe pioneer. Mary has been a member of the Hot Tribe since the doors opened in December of 2011.
Mary’s silent support and calm demeanor make others feel at ease by just being in her presence. The tone of her voice and the peace in her eyes has the power to comfort and soothe. Her dedication to her yoga practice inspires others and she educates our community by teaching meditation classes. She normally floats though the studio gracefully and tonight was no different. We agreed to meet after she finished the 90-minute Bikram class at 7pm. A few minutes after 7pm, she exited the yoga room and joined me at the table in the lobby. When I offered to give her a minute to gather herself after class, she declined, smiled, and said she was ready. She wrapped her shoulders in a towel like it was a cozy blanket. Her vibe was so calm and relaxed, that suddenly it felt like we were no longer in the studio’s noisy lobby as people passed by, but in a comfortable living room, on a couch, near a fireplace, talking about yoga….
Monea: How did you hear about Melt?
Mary: I’m a psychotherapist and I heard that yoga was good for those suffering from depression and anxiety so I was looking for a studio to refer my clients to. Then one day I saw a “Coming Soon” sign here at Melt in the shopping center with a phone number. I called the phone number and it was Molly, the owner of Melt.
Monea: After your first class, what made you decide to keep coming back?
Mary: I found that my competitive nature came out and I was frustrated that I wasn’t able to grab my ankle from behind. I wasn’t going to let that get me so I thought if I kept coming back I would try to conquer doing that…. and then I just kept on coming.
Monea: How has yoga changed your life? Describe what it used to be like, what happened, and what it is like now.
Mary: Yoga changed my life because I very much believe in the mind, body, and spirit being in balance with each other. Having a yoga practice is a way of being able to tend to those three entities and yoke them together. When you have balance in your life, your life changes and you’re more content and more compassionate.
Monea: As someone who teaches meditation and practices yoga, what would you to the person who says, “I do yoga so I don’t need meditation.” How would you describe the relationship between the two?
Mary: I think that if we just to yoga, the physical exercises, we are missing out on the other component of it which is the breathing exercises. The breathing exercises affect your biological essence, which changes your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. That helps you emotionally. And if you focus on the fact that we all feel good after we exercise, and realize that there is a connection between physical exercise and taking care of your mental health, emotional well-being, and your spiritual side, you were really doing all three but you just weren’t listening.
When you stop and actually start to listen you become very mindful about everything that you’re doing. You find that in yoga, you’ve actually being meditating all along. It’s a moving meditation because you are focusing and concentrating on your poses and that is what meditation is- finding something to focus and concentrate on and that’s what you are doing in yoga.
A lot of people are actually doing a moving mediation with yoga but they don’t realize that they are meditating, or doing a form of meditation. So people just come and say, “I’m doing a workout” and they are but there’s so much more to it than that. I probably come more from the spiritual and emotional side. I used to go to a gym and do workouts but yoga was the physical one that linked it all together. Yoga is the physical exercise that makes it all come together.
Monea: At Melt, we believe, “If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.” What pose has challenged and changed you the most, physically, emotionally, and spiritually?
Mary: Standing Bow Pulling Posture [in the Bikram series] because that’s the one that I couldn’t grab my ankle from behind. Once I realized that I could do that, I could go fully into the pose. What about you? Which one was yours?
Monea: When I first started practicing, it was savasana. I was good at moving around and had a hard time being still.
Mary: Too much time in your head? (I nod). There is so much more to ourselves than our mind…travel within…(laughter)
Monea: If someone was intimated by yoga, or hot yoga namely, what would you tell them to encourage them to give it a try?
Mary: I would encourage them that the warmth of the room is actually healing and it helps you be more flexible. If you allow yourself to just stay in the moment, and stick with it, you stop noticing the heat. It’s not a hindrance… it’s actually a big help.
I’d also encourage them to try the variety of classes at Melt [Bikram, Vinyasa, and meditation].
Monea: What do you like most about being a part of the Melt Hot Yoga community?
Mary: The community…. (laughter)
Monea: Me too!
Mary: The comfort of the community…At times there’s a silent support and there’s a current of energy in the community and it feels good.