Yoga Podcast Episode 37: Mary Taylor

In today’s Ashtanga Dispatch Podcast, learn why Mary Taylor says she can’t be part of a world anymore where women can’t talk about abuses they feel and abuses they experienced anymore.


Mary Taylor is a woman who has been consistently practicing this method for over 30 years – through pregnancy, injury, and even a debilitating disease. It’s pretty simple, according to Mary – who says she didn’t enter the yoga room with a body, like say … her husband, Richard (Freeman). It’s all in our mindset and approach:

“It wasn’t like I was the star student. I was the stiff student. Yet he (Pattabhi Jois) worked with me where I was. And he changed postures as I needed them changed. Meaning my legs farther apart or closer together in triangle pose or changing the gazing point when I couldn’t actually twist enough to have my gaze pointed in the right place etc.
So (the practice) is not a rigid thing. It’s a thing that has flexibility to it in terms of how we approach it to make it for different people.”

Of course, that’s only the beginning of what turned into a really deep and meaningful conversation. Mary talked about the psychological and physiological holding patterns that show up in our bodies, especially in terms of trauma, when not fully processed. She even shared as an example, her personal experiences with sexual abuse and how memories arose in practice and manifested within her own body and psyche. And as difficult and painful that they may be, Mary says an important part of the yoga is waking up and being with what is, rather than rely on old defense mechanisms that keep us sick.

Listening to Mary, it’s not hard to understand how she would become perhaps the first senior teacher within the Ashtanga yoga community (at least that I knew of) willing to ‘wake up’ and publicly acknowledge Pattabhi Jois’ previous sexual misconduct* – even as she continues to hold love and gratitude for the same man who changed her life – and the lives of many.

This was an honest, brave, and painful dialogue to begin in our community.  But according to Mary, also part of a necessary process if we ever want to heal and move forward.


*Update: Karen Rain is actually the first senior Ashtanga yoga teacher to call the behavior of her former teacher, Pattabhi Jois, sexual abuse. You can read her story here.





Show Links

Pulling Things Apart, by Mary Taylor – A valuable read as an evolution in understanding.

Freeman + Taylor: Mary and Richard’s website where you can find their schedule, shop their extensive library of books and videos, and even try out their favorite recipes!

The Yoga Workshop, Boulder, Colorado

This episode of the Ashtanga Dispatch Podcast was edited and hosted by Peg Mulqueen along with Meghan Powell, and Chris Lucas as producer.

But mostly, this show is made possible by those of you who generously support us through your online donations and shop purchases. We truly appreciate your friendship and kindness. 


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