I am MB, Mary Beth. I am an English-speaking yoga teacher based in Berlin, Germany. I grew up in Illinois (USA) but caught the travel bug in college and have since lived in Argentina (1998), Italy (2002-03), Afghanistan (2006-08), and now Germany (2009-present).
My first encounter with yoga in 2004 was not what I would call magical…I was unable to locate my kidneys in order to breath through them, as the teacher demanded, and therefore felt as though perhaps this whole yoga thing was just not for me. Over the years, I would take a yoga class here or there, especially while living in Afghanistan doing development work. Though I often laughed my way through classes, which actually is how I met one of my best friends, as she too was giggling in the back of the class, I still felt as though there was something to this yoga experience that was simply good for me. It was only when I moved to Berlin in 2009, however, that I began to establish a serious practice.
This is when I found what I describe as my “yoga home,” the ISHTA (Integrated Science of Hatha, Tantra, and Ayurveda) yoga lineage. The individualized nature of the ISHTA practice and its holistic perspective on the individual appealed to me and my desire to connect with my own truth, as did the concept that we are not broken, good or bad, but innately whole.
Throughout the process of writing my PhD at the Freie Universität, I turned to yoga to establish a stronger connection with myself and to find an oasis of calm and peace that subtly began to transfer over into my life off the mat.
In a desire to deepen my own practice, I gave myself the present of participating in the 200-hour intensive yoga training at ISHTA Scandinavia in Stockholm in 2012 after handing in the first draft of my dissertation. While expecting to learn about asana (yogic poses), I was surprised by how intensely I connected with the pranyama (breathwork) and meditation teachings, along with yogic and tantric philosophies. Though I had not signed up for the training planning on becoming a yoga teacher, I felt happy helping lead my fellow yogis through different postures, breathing techniques, and meditations. It just felt right.
When I returned to Berlin from Stockholm in 2013, 200-hour certificate in hand, I started teaching a weekly group class at Yoga im Graefekiez. Unfortunately, a brush with cancer meant that I had to give up my relatively new class and turn my attentions towards finding my own healing path.
Coming back to yoga after such a challenging adventure was not always easy, but I felt instinctively that I needed to return to my yoga mat and return to my study of the tools of yoga. The intense cancer treatments had left me feeling distant from myself on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level in a way that was as painful as it was alienating. Utilizing the tools of yoga, and in particular meditation and beginning to shift my lifestyle to more greatly align with Ayurvedic principles, I began to find a way out of this disassociation, a path towards finding a home with myself once again.
I participated in the 300-hour yoga teacher training offered by Julie Blumenthal at ISHTA Yoga Berlin and am so grateful for the incredible and, at times, incredibly difficult journey that was connected with this training. It helped me to slip back into the world of the living, small step by small step, breath by breath, and moment to moment.
Inspired by my new sense of optimism and sense of grounding, I joined forces with Julie at the end of the summer of 2017 to open up a new yoga studio in the Graefekiez called Bija Yoga Berlin. We wanted to create a a place where people could come to learn about and practice yoga in a non-competitive environment that was welcoming and cozy and a home for the growing ISHTA within Berlin.
I began teaching a Tuesday evening weekly group yoga class at Bija Yoga in November 2017 that are open to yogis of all shapes, sizes, and experiences. In these classes I work to create a space where people can begin to observe their own patterns and can play with the tools of yoga to discover what serves them that particular day in that particular moment. I hope to create classes that provide a respite from all of the distractions of the busy world we live in, a place and time to simply be with one’s self.
I hope to continue to slowly grow my teaching in an organic way, and expect to be adding another group class to my schedule Thursday evenings starting in February (details to be shared as available). Additionally, I offer private yoga classes, individualized classes for small groups and individuals and corporate yoga classes.
In my non-yoga-oriented life, I am a professional Editor and International Development Monitoring & Evaluation Specialist. I hold a Bachelor of Arts in both History and International Studies from Kenyon College in Ohio, a Masters in International Studies from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and a PhD in Human Geography from the Centre for Development Studies (ZELF) at the Freie Universität.
I am now happily living cancer-free in Berlin with my favorite partner-in-crime, Andrei, and am very grateful that I found my way back to yoga and that I now have the opportunity to share this practice and its tools with others.
For regular updates on regular weekly classes and classes that I am subbing, please sign up for the “Yoga in English with MB” Newsletter by writing MB at marybethwilson22(at)gmail.com.
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