TBY Teacher Feature
By Julia Jonson
The room is always brighter once Mary Schooley enters. This yoga teacher’s lovely disposition matches her skilled class sequencing. Mary went through the House of Shanti teacher training program led by Lourdes Paredes and Pam Udell and continues to study and grow as a teacher. Mary incorporates her knowledge of yoga and essential oils in all of her classes, along with words of wisdom borne of her own life experience.
J: We all know you as the friendly, and direct yoga teacher who offers a smart, challenging sequence with a loving approach. Some students may not know that you were diagnosed with breast cancer and you beat it (thank goodness!). Describe how this journey through healing transformed you as a teacher and as a person.
M: I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013. It was a shock that really rocked my world. It was as if the ultimate curveball had been thrown my way, yet I was prepared to hit that ball thanks in part to yoga. My yoga mat was my safe space. It was like a familiar warm blanket and a place to heal. During my practice time, I could connect with my breath, rest and give thanks for my body and help it to heal and recover. I believe that, because I had a consistent practice leading up to my diagnosis, I was prepared to handle my cancer treatments with greater strength and peace. To me, being diagnosed with cancer and going through treatment was a season of life. Much like in a vinyasa yoga class, life is full of constant change. It ebbs and flows, and offers challenging poses and ones that are restful and restorative. Your blog on the TBY website from April, 2017 resonates with me as I move through each season of my life. I have to be like water to flow through the obstacles.
J: Your life is about to change again with your first-born going off to college. Describe family life and explain how your own yoga practice helps you in the role of wife and mom.
M: Yes, indeed, my family will be going through a big change soon. This is more vinyasa-style living for me, as it is my intention to proceed through the changes skillfully with both wisdom and heart. My family is truly my greatest joy! I am blessed to be mom to three great kids and I have a wonderfully supportive husband. My mat time teaches me remain present through the flow of life. Together, as a family, we learned during my year long cancer journey, how quickly the bad times can pass. And through that, I realized just how much faster the good times can race by. That has really helped me become aware of the really special moments but also how to create excitement in everyday life. It is important to hug a little longer, to listen a little closer, and to live a little fuller. I believe that things come to us when we need to receive. The way I did the physical poses changed significantly during cancer treatment. I was so grateful for the stillness I found during my yoga sessions.. The first days back to my mat after each surgery and during my hardest chemo days were simply holding child’s pose. It was a blessing just finding my breath and being in the energy of a community of people that didn’t question my efforts or even demand more than I could do in any given pose.
J: When did the “yoga bug” bite you and why did you decide to start teaching?
M: This question makes me laugh because I was very resistant to trying yoga. My impression of yoga 10 years ago was people sitting still and meditating. I was a stay-at-home mom and my daily workouts were at 4:30am on my elliptical cross trainer before my young children woke up. The thought of sitting still was not something I could ever imagine. When my youngest turned 3 and started preschool, I took my first yoga class and it was at Total Body Yoga. I would have been better served in a basics class, but the only thing that worked for my schedule was a level 3 class. I tried it and had no idea what I was doing, yet something about that first experience hooked me. Shortly after that, I purchased my own mat (commitment!) and started my regular, and more appropriate leveled, yoga practice. I fell in love with all things yoga and was hungry to learn more. In 2012 I embarked on teacher training. I’m so grateful and honored to be teaching in the same space where I began my yoga practice.
J: Who or what inspires you to continually keep progressing or advancing as an instructor?
M: There is no question that what inspires me to continue my own practice and progress as a teacher is the TBY yoga community. I feel honored by the presence of the people who show up in classes that I lead. I’m equally inspired when taking classes as a student by everyone around me. We are each on our own yoga journey. Whether it’s as instructor or participant, we come together and support each other, through the flow of practice, through our intentions, and breath by breath. There is such a powerful energy that radiates in a yoga class and a yoga community. I find this energy to be intoxicating and contagious and that is what inspires me.
J: Yoga is not your only healing modality. I was privileged to experience your talents as a raindrop therapist first hand and just loved it. Describe your pathway into the land of essential oils and hands on healing.
M: Thank you! I discovered essential oils when I needed them most. The oils provided emotional healing after my cancer recovery. Similar to my yoga journey, my hunger to learn more about how oils support the body’s natural healing process when paired with hands on healing made me an avid student of aromatherapy and healing touch energy work. I am currently studying to become a Certified Clinical Aromatherapist. This allows me to work with the healing properties of essential oils. I will eventually take an exam that will make me a Registered Aromatherapist with a certificate in Raindrop Technique. I look forward to sharing this modality of essential oils healing and energy work with our TBY community (details on appointment scheduling below).
J: What do you think about the continued rise in popularity of yoga in the United States and how are we, as teachers, responsible to keep the tradition alive, but also evolve as teachers?
M: I’m really excited that yoga continues to rise in popularity here in the states. As teachers and students of yoga, I think it is our responsibility to welcome and honor each person who delves into this type of self study. Every practitioner shows up for a distinct purpose and has something they are seeking. Whether it’s healing, pain relief, community, relaxation, connection; physical activity or whatever the reason, it seems most who begin practice receive something greater than first imagined from this body, mind, spirit discipline.
J: Tell us about “off the mat Mary.” What do you do in your down-time — or share a little known fact or two.
M: As Mary off the mat, I love watching my kids discover and live their passions, just like I am discovering and living my own.
Mary’s teaching schedule:
*Sunday – Restorative 6:00pm
*Tuesday – Level 1 8:00am
Thursday – Level 1 8:00am
*new class times for Mary
To schedule an appointment for a healing service with Mary at Wild Lavender Clinic, call 847-302-4602 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The website, which is currently under construction is: www.wildlavenderclinic.com. To see how to incorporate essential oils into your daily routine https://yldist.com/maryschooley/.