Mara is a celebrated yogini and tantrika dedicated to the spiritual tradition of Free Yogis of the Himalayas. Having studied with powerful, spiritually-oriented practitioners such as Andrey Lappa, Chandra Om and Manju Jois, she has been exposed to a wide variety of asana systems and yoga schools. Mara has spent over 11 years studying the Universal Yoga System, and worked as Andrey Lappa’s North American assistant for most of those years. Through her studies and personal practices, Mara found her voice as a householder dedicated to weaving together normal family life with the yoga practices of the Vajrayana (Tantra Buddhist) tradition. She is dedicated to bringing supple strength, powerful softness and practical proficiency to each person’s evolving relationship with yoga. Through her yoga school “Balanced Unity Yoga” and her Unity Yoga classes, Mara strives to create an atmosphere of scholarly learning, skillful practice and spiritual happiness.
The first action of any human in this world is to inhale. The next is to exhale. Following that, we feel. We feel the temperature on our skin and we feel touch. Soon after, we connect to hearing and seeing. I believe yoga has the power to take us back to that nearly perfect “blank slate state” where we can use the practice to get back to the basics: breathing and feeling. It is a powerful method for personal transformation yet it does not require you to change anything about your life. You can be any age, any sex, any religion, any ethnicity. Yoga fits everyone. It has worked miracles in my life in such a short time. It can work for anyone who wants to put some time into practice.
How Yoga Found Me
I had never heard of the word “yoga” until 2001. I was about to turn 38 years old and was already a mother of three young children. I had left my school psychology career in 1993 to stay home to raise our children, but was quickly bored. In 1996, I embarked upon a part-time fitness career that included aerobics, spinning, pilates and weightlifting and left me in the best shape of my life. But it was in early 2002 that a friend finally convinced me to take “this cool class” with her after we finished a spinning class together. Unbeknownst to me, it was a power yoga class. Despite being in “great shape”, I could do nothing. I couldn’t touch my toes, I couldn’t lift my leg, I couldn’t balance on my hands. I was clearly NOT in great shape, but I was absolutely captivated by those in the class who could do it all.
How I Shadowed Yoga
Having been hooked, I started taking not just Power Yoga, but also Bikram, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Yin and any other kind of yoga you can name. You name it, I took it! I went to workshops in my city and then I went to workshops out of state. Within a year, I completed a teacher training program. Within the next year, I met Andrey Lappa (my first spiritual teacher) and Manju Jois (my ashtanga teacher). I completed teacher training programs with them both. Through Andrey Lappa I met Choje Rinpoche Phuntsok (my spiritual teacher) who initiated me into my spiritual linegage (Karma Kagyu Branch of Tibetan Buddhism) and Vajrayana (Tantric Buddhism founded by The Free Yogis of the Himalayas). I didn’t have to renounce Christianity. I didn’t have to change my family life or my marriage. My life just became more integrated and better harmonized.
How Yoga and I Meshed
Today I consider myself a yogini and tantrika dedicated to the spiritual tradition of the Free Yogis of the Himalayas. I’ve been exposed to a wide variety of asana systems, yoga schools and many powerful teachers. I decided to “settle down” in 2005 and have now spent over a decade studying the Universal Yoga System, and working as Andrey Lappa’s North American assistant (Andrey being the creator of The Universal Yoga System www.universal-yoga.com). I have found my voice as a householder dedicated to weaving together normal family life with the yoga practices of the Vajrayana (Tantric Buddhist) tradition. I am dedicated to bringing supple strength, powerful softness and practical proficiency to each and every person’s evolving relationship with yoga. I have a yoga school called “Balanced Unity Yoga” through which I strive to create an atmosphere of scholarly learning, skillful practice and spiritual happiness.