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The Interview: Margaret Talks Teaching, Taking Flight and Pteromerhanophobia. (Um, What??!)

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by Anne Clendening

I’ve met Margaret exactly once. She came to my class at Black Dog, and the main thing I remember was feeling like Audrey Hepburn had just walked into the room. She had that grace about her, a very womanly aura—very striking, without being intimidating.

She set up her mat in the back of the red room, by the props. And as we moved through the practice, I remember catching a glimpse of her face during sun salutations; her eyes were closed, and she had that glow, that glow you get in yoga when you’ve gone deep inside, and all that’s happening is you’re linking breath with movement like two energies in a waltz. So strong, and so vulnerable.

When we sat down for our Skype chat on a Saturday afternoon, the video wasn’t working. Two husbands, two computers and one ipad later, we decided to carry on without it. 

Do you go by any other name but Margaret?

I don’t call myself anything besides Margaret, but a few friends in high school and college called me Maggie.

Where are you from?

I’m from the Dallas Fort Worth area, from Texas. And before I came to L.A., I had been living in New York, where I was a flight attendent. [This gives me the giggles. I have a huge phobia of flying. Can you say pteromerhanophobia?] Years later, I ended up with a fear of flying, after I stopped being a flight attendent. It’s controlled now. Reading the Eckhart Tolle book, “The Power of Now” helped me tremendously. There’s a chapter called “Is,” about facing your fear and asking yourself “am I OK now? Am I OK now?” My children are probably part of the reason for my phobias; I had children that were dependent on me, and I’d like to be around to launch them into adulthood!

Your favorite yoga pose is Ardha Chandrasana.

I love it. And in light of this conversation, it makes me feel like I’m flying! I’m like a bird, banking left, banking right… I love that feeling!

And your least favorite: Warrior Three.

I have super tight hip flexors. I call it “hip flexor hell.” That’s my “broccoli pose.” You have to eat your vegetables!

278951_175608152501413_6889092_oWhat style of yoga do you teach?

I teach Vinyasa Flow. I was influenced at first by Power Yoga, and when I started taking more alignment-based classes, that appealed to me as well. I feel like we, in the west, have come at yoga from a very physical standpoint, very exercise-y, in general.

Do you feel like “Power Yoga” is like a dirty word in yoga studios?

No, I don’t. My feeling is, whatever drew you to it can’t be a bad thing. My first style was Bikram, then Power, then Anusara and then it was just flow. And you keep coming for some reason… and when you’re at the end of class you can’t deny, whether it’s a super-duper Power Yoga class with the heat on or it’s a restorative class, you’re lying in Savasana, feeling a certain way… it’s total relaxation, and that unique energy you have in your body, simultaneously. And I don’t know where else you can get that feeling, no matter what style you just practiced. I’ve experienced that amazing, deep state of meditation, where “it” happened. And there’s nothing but me on the the floor. Sometimes I’ve been in my head, it’s it’s racing while I’m supposed to be disconnected to my thoughts. Other times, I’ve just fallen asleep. Which is not Savasana!

How long have you been practicing yoga?

I’ve been practicing 32 years.

Wowza! How did you first get into yoga?

My mother was my first teacher. She would practice the Bikram sequence in the living room. I’d come home from ballet and she’d teach me the sequence. The poses were intriguing to me; they were like dance moves. At one point, later on in my 20’s when I was practicing Bikram and Vinyasa Flow, I could find meditation so much faster, and I realized I was getting out of it so much more than just the physical. I remember thinking, “this is a moving meditation… I’m going so deep here.” It became my spirituality. It wasn’t until my first teacher training 10 years ago and I started reading the philosophy, I thought “this is something I’ve been experiencing!” I knew there was something more to it than just a physical thing!”

Where did you take your first training?

My first training was at Earth’s Power Yoga. I taught for a couple of years before I felt like I was lacking in anatomy knowledge and physical adjustments. I didn’t feel comfortable touching people. I could sequence a class and guide people through it, but there’s a difference between just instructing people into a pose, and really delving into it and being a guide.

I wanted that knowledge, so I took the Black Dog teacher training. It was their very first one they ever did! I used to take Jenny’s classes a lot, and Sigrid’s, and now it’s so funny to think I’m teaching with the people I admired. Peter once told me you can take as many trainings as you want, but at the end of the day you’ll just pull from everything that means something to you, and your going to put your own spin on it anyway. So I took the Black Dog training with Peter, and Greta Hill and Matt Schwartz for anatomy. It was fantastic. I felt like I got the pieces that were missing. During the Black Dog training, I’ll be teaching the Friday night class, so the trainees can come take a class with me.


Changing gears… Are you a Mary Ann or a Ginger?

I think I’m a Mary Ann who fantasizes about being a Ginger.

What’s your biggest fear?

Ooh, that’s a super deep question… Not being able to see my kids into their future.

Do you have a hero?

The person I admire most in life is my husband. He is a person who is a thousand percent genuine, and in your face with authenticity. I always say, it’s really interesting to be in a relationship with him, because there are no walls. Because of him I’m a better parent. I’m better at the way I do life, just by his example. He’s pretty cool. I’d have to say my husband is my hero.

Is there a real or fictional person named Margaret who you like or identify with?

Maybe Margaret Atwood?  She’s a writer, and I find the idea of sitting in a beautiful location, meditating on words, very romantic!

What’s your favorite Beatles song?

Thank you Margaret! ❤

Margaret teaches the Thursday 9:00-10:25am Intermediate Focused Flow class & the Friday 5:30-6:45pm Intermediate Flow Challenge class.


About the author:
Has 47 Articles

Anne Clendening is a writer, a yoga teacher and kind of a dark little L.A. hippie. She has her own column on elephant journal, where she writes about—what else?—love, life & yoga. Her darker thoughts can be read on her blog, Dirty Blonde Ink. Be her friend on Facebook.. It'll make her feel special.


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