A conversation with Meredith McClain, yoga instructor

What motivated you to practice yoga and eventually become an instructor?

Prior to yoga, I was keeping up with my regular weekly workouts. I was feeling challenged and getting stronger and looking great. But something was missing. Like many people experience, weekly workout routines can feel successful but are not necessarily gratifying. They can also become a bit like a rat race. The link that was missing for me and drew me closer and closer to practicing yoga was needing a sense of calm—a more internal gratification rather than an outward result.

I wanted to share with my clients all the benefits I was experiencing from my personal practice with them. That what they may be looking to achieve by going to the gym and running from this trend to that trend just might be solved by going to the yoga mat instead. The caveat is it's not something you can sell or tell. It has to be lived and experienced.

How does your yoga practice affect your life 'off the mat'?

    I always know the difference the more time I spend on the mat vs. off the mat. Life is calmer. I can move about with much more ease and clarity. There is a humble confidence that I can handle what comes before me. Yoga is a better way to approach life's uncertainty than the plethora of alternatives that are out there in abundance.

    What is your advice to someone looking to try yoga for the first time?

    Go in and just have the experience. Yoga is not looking to sell you or convince you. It has no interest in the ego. Yoga simply wants to be and to thrive. It won't be for everyone, but it is good for everybody.

    Some schools have yoga classes as part of their PE curriculum; do you encourage parents to practice with their children?

    There are countless benefits to families practicing yoga together. While yoga often happens in group settings, everyone is alone on their mat. Similar to when people are in church, for example. Prayer can happen collectively and there is unity in that. But there are also significant benefits to praying singularly, as well. There is an openness you experience that comes from the clarity of mind. It softens the edges we put around ourselves as a protective measure. You become more compassionate toward yourself as you struggle on your mat. Which in turn helps you have compassion for your fellow yogi who is equally struggling on his or her mat. The unifying bond of that shared experience can only enhance and strengthen a familial dynamic. And like many experiences in yoga, it won't have to be spoken through language. There will be a collective understanding and appreciation.