Mary Ewing-Mulligan, 64, practicing at Land Yoga for 2 1/2 years
What made you decide to try us out? Had you done yoga before?
I used to be a fairly serious recreational runner. I trained for 5 marathons, ran 3 of them, and was so proud of my accomplishment. But I had injuries along the way. In 2011, I was suffering from plantar fasciatis and a heel spur: I couldn't even walk without pain. I had just moved into the city from the suburbs and knew that I needed to find a new form of exercise. Land Yoga had just opened, just around the corner from my home. I was unfamiliar with the various types of yoga, but loved the idea of Mysore practice — the freedom of the schedule and the individual nature of the experience. That's what motivated me to join, 2 1/2 years ago.
What did you think when you first started? Did you expect to still be here now?
I was amazed at the proficiency of the other students, but I didn’t feel intimidated because the instruction was caring. I was impatient to progress quickly, but Lara took me along very slowly. “There’s always time,” she said. My impatience was a big challenge that I had to overcome. I did know that I would continue with yoga, though; I sensed that it is an activity that I could sustain for the rest of my life. What I didn’t expect was the degree to which I have embraced the practice, and how much I love it.
What do you enjoy most about the practice? What are the challenges and what do you do when you encounter them?
I enjoy the physical challenge of it, and even more so I enjoy turning my attention inward and watching how my body responds to that challenge. I love the fact that one’s practice is personal — it’s between me and myself. In that sense, it reminds me of the solitary nature of training for a marathon, which ultimately is just between you and the road.
My limited physical ability can frustrate me sometimes, and when that happens, I try to smile at my stumbling efforts and remind myself how far I’ve come. Distraction is a challenge for me on some days; I try to notice it when it happens, and use my breathing to bring myself back inward.
How has this practiced helped you outside the yoga room?
I am not the same person I was 2 ½ years ago. I feel more alive and more present in the world, instead of existing amidst the niggling anxieties within my mind. I feel younger than ever both physically and mentally. The experience has simply been transforming. I am so fortunate to be able to sip from the fountain of youth every morning!
What would you say to someone considering joining?
I would highly recommend it, of course, and I would say to stick with it even if it seems slow going at first. I would urge him or her to practice daily to gain the most benefit. In a word, I’d say, “Commit.”
Is there anything you've found unique about the experience here?
I have no basis for comparison, but I find it hard to imagine another yoga studio that combines such kind and talented teachers, such a strong community focus and such emphasis on giving and goodwill. Land Yoga not only teaches yoga but also teaches a way of life.
What you do and how people can support you?
I have a wine school in NYC, International Wine Center, (www.internationalwinecenter.com) which many people consider the leading wine school in the U.S. Because I am one of only 314 Masters of Wine in the world, some of our classes attract a serious crowd, but we welcome novices, too. I also write about wine; I have a regular column on Wine Review Online (www.winereviewonline.com) that features wines I particularly like. Finally, I am the co-author of Wine For Dummies and seven other wine books in the …For Dummies series — together with my husband, Ed McCarthy. We are so proud of that book, now in its 5th edition and translated into 37 languages! If you want to learn about wine, please check out our book!