I may be able to rock a tree pose with the best of 'em, but I am extremely balance-challenged when it come to life. I'm constantly striving to figure out what to hold on to and what to let go of, what to indulge in, and what to restrict myself from. I'm forever on the hunt for that sweet spot between not enough and too much of any given person, place or thing. My whole life I've struggled with balance and with accepting ALL aspects of myself- the good and the bad.
I was raised Southern Baptist and my father was a minister from the time I was born until I was 16 years old (yes, I am a preacher's daughter!). I went to a very conservative, very sheltered private Christian school until high school, and always felt pressure to be some angelic, flawless version of myself that was unnatural, not to mention unattainable. I wasn't terrible or anything- I was a pretty good kid with a big heart and a soft spot for other people and animals. I made good grades and didn't really break too many rules, but something about that restricted, sometimes judgmental way of life never fully resonated with me. I thought I'd grow out of it- maybe I was just a rebellious preacher's daughter? I didn't. Once I was released into the wild (aka public high school), I saw all kinds of different styles of living. I was fascinated! I wasn't even aware that there were so many different flavors to life! I snuggled right in with the meat-is-murder/express-yourself-though-music-and-art-crazy-haired group and felt right at home there. I felt accepted not despite my flaws, but maybe even because of them. I felt free! So free, however, that I decided to start skipping school and spending my allowance on wild turkey 101- opposite end of the spectrum by far. whoops!
I found yoga and meditation when I was around 17 years old though. It was an accidental discovery- truthfully, I was searching for a workout that would give me "Madonna arms" and I heard she did yoga, but somehow (thankfully) I ended up in the arms of a group of middle-aged women doing restorative yoga and meditation. It didn't give me sculpted arms, but It truly changed my life. I discovered there was a way to tap into that big hearted spiritual side of me without losing that sense of self-acceptance, and without all the pressure and judegement. I discovered wheatgrass shots, got into nutrition, wellness and exercise. I was enchanted by how bodies function and how they can be healed through food, movement, and meditation.
I'd love to say I stuck with yoga from then on, but that's not what happened. I stuck with it for a while, then journeyed back over to the party side again. It's like I was in the middle of a giant life teeter-totter- Wheatgrass Mary on one end, Whiskey Mary on the other. How could I have such opposing creatures living inside my soul?!
Struggling with how a preacher's daughter "should" be later transformed into struggling with how a yoga teacher "should" be. When I first began teaching, I thought I had to be this perfect vision of health and wellness all the time, this ever positive shiny light no matter what was going on below the surface. While all that is a huge part of me, it isn't me 100 percent of the time though. I do genuinely enjoy doing cleanses and fasts, meditating, restricting my diet, and working out, but I just as thoroughly enjoy drinking, socializing, eating pizza, and being lazy. I can wake up at the crack of dawn, meditate and shoot wheatgrass all day, but can just as easily kick back, shoot whiskey and shake my booty all night!
It's taken me years of soul searching to finally come to this conclusion: I'm a little bit of wheatgrass and a little bit of whiskey. I've proven to myself repeatedly that I have the propensity to slide to either end of the spectrum. Now my work is to find balance between the two. I am a constant work in progress, but even just acknowledging that I have both sides in me has taken a huge burden off of my heart. For me, a giant part of finding that balance is accepting all sides of myself- the good and the bad, the light and the dark, the wheatgrass and the whiskey. I'll always be a bit of both, and I am (finally) ok with that. Another tricky part is letting go of what other people think while holding on to my own personal truth. It's way easier said than done, but I am dedicated to being authentically me regardless of what others think. I am learning to have unshakeable faith in what I'm doing, in who I truly am (flaws and all), and to trust my own gut to lead me to that sweet spot somewhere between wheatgrass and whiskey.
bottoms up to balance,
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Originally hailing from Charleston, South Carolina, Mary has called Los Angeles home since 2010. She is a licensed massage therapist, as well as a registered yoga instructor with 300+ hours of training. She's the co-founder/owner of YogaFam, which hosts family oriented yoga adventures around Southern California and beyond. Mary can be found teaching yoga in studios or privately all over the west-side of LA, soaking up some California sun on a hike or at the beach, or tackling a taco tuesday.