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Teacher Feature: Heather Murray

heather1. How would you describe yoga?

To me yoga is about connection. It is a means by which we connect (or reconnect) to our truest essence that can easily become hidden or blurred through daily life. Yoga connects us to breath, to body, and to an awareness of our patterns of thought, speech and action. Ultimately yoga is a connection to the present moment and, in turn, to the idea that peace is our true nature.

2. How did you find your way to yoga?

When I was a super teeny kiddo, I tried to copy my grandma as she practiced yoga. Later as a college student and young adult, I was drawn back to it as a way to balance out my body from being an avid rock climber. Like many, it was initially a purely physical practice and my focus on the Iyengar and Ashtanga practices. Later, I found my way to Vinyasa and other practices and began to branch out. As we all know, if you just stick with it long enough, the ripple effects are deep and it eventually went way beyond a body-based practice for me.

3. What is your practice like off the mat? How would you say you live your yoga?

I try to live my yoga by stepping back when I can sense that I am about to react. I live my yoga by being as present as I can with my relationships to others and myself. I live my yoga also by being mindful of the lifestyle that I create for myself and try to make room to re-evaluate that as often as possible in order to take really good care of who I am. I know that by taking good care of myself I can be much more available for the people in my life.

4. What draws you to the Lila community?

The first times I practiced at Lila, I didn’t feel like an outsider or someone from out of town who was just dropping in. There is a very welcoming feel to the studio and the community of practitioners. It is really important to me when I teach that people feel welcome, included and seen. I get that vibe when I am at Lila.

5. Who is your primary teacher right now?

Those I consider my primary teachers unfortunately don’t live anywhere near me! I had the privilege of finally studying in person with Rod Stryker last year and have spent some time with Schuyler Grant over the last couple of years. I also have a love of the Yogaglo website for when I cannot travel! There are fabulous teachers (some that I have done trainings with in person – Tiffany Cruickshank, Kathryn Budig) that I can keep practicing with online and loads of other teachers that I now would love to meet in person. I am always seeking and searching for wonderful teachers and try to do a couple of special trainings per year. The teacher I did my primary training with, Shiva Rea, will always have a special place in my heart.

6. What inspires you to keep teaching?

Hands down my students. I am blown away by the awesome group of committed people that come to my classes every week in Bar Harbor. They really motivate me to step up my game as a student first and as a teacher second. They show up so wholeheartedly and it such a symbiotic relationship. I am very lucky to have them and I don’t take it for granted. Ultimately, I would like to just be of the greatest service that I can and I feel that is possible when I step into the seat of a teacher with humbleness and an open heart.

7. If you would suggest one book to the community to read as an opportunity to deepen their learning on life, yoga, and all things, what would it be?

One book?! Oh, that’s impossible. 🙂 I would actually recommend a book that I have been reading in bits and pieces recently. It is “The Secret Power of Yoga: A Woman’s Guide to the Heart and Spirit of the Yoga Sutras” by Nishala Joy Devi.

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