1. How long have you been practicing yoga?  
  I find this a fascinating question.  We are culture that is addicted to performance, outward appearances of accomplishment and worth based on those criteria.  In all honesty, if I said I have practicing for 30 years would one value me more as a teacher?  Or, would I have some notion that company watch may give me some license as a yogi, when in fact I don't believe that's a standard at all.  The goal of yoga is self-realization or the integration of the body, mind and spirit

through the elimination of the illusion of the conflict of opposites. This may be encountered in the wake of a moment or over many lifetimes.  In any case to answer your question my mother Ruth was a yoga teacher back when you could still get black listed with the “commies” for doing so.  I’ve probably been at it awhile.
2.  What do you find most challenging about yoga?
  The thing I find most challenging about yoga is the opening that it provides me, and how I must continually diminish the small ego to this amazing force.  There are many times when my ego thinks that it is bigger than the insights that the yoga is offering, and it is that process of letting go into the yoging/yolking that can be tough.  Ahh, but the rewards!
3. What is your recommendation for yoga-virgins (or yoga-newbies)?
Those who have been drawn to yoga today you face an interesting challenge because of the intense cultural influence that is upon us in the world of yoga.  My best advice is to find a teacher who you feel intimately and intuitively drawn to and who you trust implicitly.  Yoga is a powerful force and needs to be handled as such and treated with the utmost of respect.    

4. Any advice for those with a regular practice?

What kind of practice, asana?  Those who are practicing regularly, I applaud you and encourage you to continue to do so.  The thing that is most important to recognize here is that we could all be practicing yoga day-to-day, morning to night, and during our sleep and then we’d really be practicing the True yoga.  The inward intention of why you practice and how you practice are more important than if you practice, or how many times. 

5. Has yoga changed your life? How?
Has yoga changed my life?  Of course!  How? Well yoga is constantly changing my life.   Everything changes in life, and we are often very resistant to change especially the changes we have no controll over.  Change is a constant and yoga is perhaps a consistent place with which to observe the constant of change, with grace and acceptance.  Years ago Yoga helped me to pull me out of a wasteland of addictions and continues to help me to deal with the challenges of life.

6. How often do you practice yoga?
It's important for all of us to recognize that yoga has many different aspects, many different expressions and a wealth of philosophies that weave together to form the total.  Perhaps the answer to this question is, I do my darndest to  practice of all the time in one form or another.  Lets face it, the real test is when the teacher is gone, when the music has stopped, when you wake up paralyzed, or when your relationship sours, that’s when the real practice begins. 

7. What's your favorite yoga/asana posture?  Favorite style of yoga?  
Hmmm, my favorite yoga posture, this is a tough question, because I love all the postures. I am continuing to explore what I can do in a paralyzed body now, just as I used to love exploring the dimensions of my being previously.  I also love to watch them, to imagine them now, and to see what people are doing with the asanas.  The style I  tend to like best and generally teach is Vinyasa Flow. 
8.  What did you eat for breakfast?

  For breakfast, I had a corn cake with almond butter and a cup of Earl Grey tea.  Of course that was after my Spanish Coffee and doughnuts……………not.     Always – Enjoyment & Moderation
9. How has yoga changed since your skiing accident?
 Actually yoga itself hasn't changed since my accident, what has changed is my approach to yoga since my accident.  Perhaps the most significant changes are the obvious adjustments to letting go of my body and the way I used to relate to being physical.  Now my body relates to my mind and my nervous system in an absolutely unpredictable and unfathomable way, it is simply something that one cannot imagine. I think each of us fears loosing our body in some way either through death or heaven forbid some tragedy, but we can never know untill it happens how we will respond. The way my yoga practice has changed is adapting to the realization that I am not my body, and yet I still inhabit my body as do all of us, on this plane of consciousness.  So the compassion, the appreciation, the connection, the energy dynamics and all of the other aspects of self reverence, which are cultivated in yoga, come in a different form.
10. Why do you think yoga is so popular?
  That yoga is popular is a very curious and interesting aspect of our culture at this time.  I think what we are experiencing is an intensity of how all of the polar opposites that comprise this plane of existence are illusions. The science of yoga is needed now more than ever, to deal with this intensity.  My particular opinion is that we will continue to accelerate all of our consciousness’s and in doing so, stoke the fires of conflict within our cultures, ourselves and even our yoga practice.  Hopefully the aggravation of the polar opposites between the seen and the unseen, the light and the dark, and all those parts of us become conscious and healed.  Although yoga practice for many is about a tighter “butt”, ultimately our nervous systems are being stimulated and prepared for this very auspicious time, where we transcend all of the opposites and return hOMe
11. Tell us one thing you think we don't know about you...
You don't know a lot about me and I could give you all sorts of answers that may shock you, but perhaps, I will end on a less shocking note:  My nickname in my youth was BOMBER.

mary jo teaches workshops
and lectures often. to contact her email:

for more information about mary jo, vist:

interview by insiya rasiwala and natasha grbich

ascent article on mary-jo