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E-RYT 200, RYT 500

Nickname: Reechy-Roo, Rier

Favorite food: Sweet potato fries and Swenson's Salad Boy

Favorite place: Any beach at sunset

Guilty pleasure: Spending too much time on Twitter, tweeting with fellow yoginis around the world

Hobbies: Skiing, travel, music, yoga, meditation, and blogging about yoga at www.dailydownwarddog.com

Who do you most admire and why? The strong women and goddesses who paved the way for us ladies living in the 21st century. I'm especially fond of Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity (both material and spiritual), light, wisdom, fortune, fertility, generosity, and courage.

What is your favorite yoga pose and why? Adho Mukha Svanasana Downward-facing dog because it's just about the most famous and highly practiced yoga posture of all time, that's all! If they gave out Oscars for yoga, this pose would have won Best Picture and, I'm sure, a lifetime-achievement award. For me, it is the quintessential pose and one that inspires me each and every time I practice yoga. When I'm in yoga class that first downward dog is always tough. As the class continues, I push myself to get what I came for, my body warms up, and, miraculously, by the end of class, that downward dog feels oh so good as it stretches out my lower back, arms, legs, and I'm getting those heels just a little closer to the floor every time… Aahh, I love yoga!

When did you start practicing yoga?  My first yoga class was in 2001, but the daily grind of the corporate world kept me off the mat for extended periods of time. I took a deep dive back into the world of yoga in 2010 and have been riding the waves of an incredible yoga high ever since.

Who are your teachers and where did you train? I received my 200-hour teacher training from TRY4Life and my 500-hour certificate with Mary Pat Murphy at Namaste Yoga Studio. I am thankful for the students and teachers throughout the Akron-Cleveland area who have inspired my yoga journey and helped me grow as a teacher—Mary Pat Murphy, Tracy Rhinehart, and Ron White to name a few. I have also been very fortunate to study with Angela Farmer, Seane Corn, Tao Porchon-Lynch, Rodney Yee, Erich Schiffman, Doug Keller, Max Strom, and Gurudev Yogi Amrit Desai. 

Describe your teaching style: I'm definitely a yin yogini and like to keep my classes lighthearted and fun while helping to demystify yoga and educate my students on the spiritual benefits of yoga and meditation both on and off the mat. My idea of the perfect class is when I can get the class to laugh or dance on their yoga mats and leave feeling blissed out.

What is your motto? "All you need is love." —John Lennon

To contact Maria with comments or questions, email maria@dailydownwarddog.com