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Featured Yogi: Maddy Bortes of Yoga District

Featured Yogi: Maddy Bortes of Yoga District

Tuesday, December 2, 2014 - 7:44am
Featured Yogi: Maddy Bortes of Yoga District

Photo courtesy of Maddy Bortes. 


About Maddy: "Maddy practices and teaches yoga in Washington, D.C.. She believes yoga can both heal and guide one toward a return to self. Maddy completed her 200-hour teacher training at Yoga District where she studied under Kelly Melsted and Hannah Allerdice. She continues to study with Elissa Margolin."

Maddy was kind enough to answer a few questions for us in the latest installment of our Featured Yogi series. 

1. How did you begin practicing yoga? I began practicing yoga after an IBS diagnosis. After several living room dates with at home yoga videos I purchased a mat and went to a class with Kelly Melsted, a long-time Yoga District teacher, and began practicing with her regularly. Yoga just clicked and I became very curious. The focus on breath and asana felt profound—it did not feel like a cardio workout or anything else I’d done before. I was especially drawn to the attention required in yoga and the revealing effects of very subtle movements. I attended Kelly’s classes for a few years before venturing to classes with other teachers. (I had a lot to work through when I started yoga…it took me about four months to close my eyes in Savasana). Over time, yoga has served me as both an empowering practice and a coping mechanism for physical and mental hardships.

2. Why is yoga important to you? Yoga is my inner voice’s advocate and my medicine. It consistently creates the space I need to listen to my body and mind. I still struggle with the tendency to mute whatever is really going on inside my body, especially when the IBS spikes, and my mind. Yoga—whether pranayama, meditation, or asana—is that reliable friend who nudges me along when I’m running the other way.

3. What made you want to teach yoga? Once I realized the healing and empowering facets of yoga I wanted to explore sharing them with others. I strive to teach in a way that encourages students to truly listen to their bodies and experience them from the inside out. Eventually this will create the circumstances ripe for self-exploration beyond the body and into our temperament in daily interactions, our relationships with others, and our journey toward self understanding.

4. Do you have a preferred type of yoga to teach/practice? Please elaborate. I enjoy practicing and teaching vinyasa, or flow yoga, where the emphasis is on exploration through movement. I am fascinated by somatics and through vinyasa yoga I find that I can move with a lot of intention and attention to alignment, but also explore any organic movement my body craves. This turns into a beautiful creative outlet that is unique each time. I also enjoy yin yoga and I’d like to explore Forrest yoga further.

5. Describe a yoga class with Maddy. What makes the experience unique? I strive to create classes that emphasize fluid movement and heightened awareness. In my classes you will move through sequences that will awaken your muscles and you’ll receive several alignment cues. But there will always be more. You will be invited and supported in your exploration of your body and often restless mind. Each class begins with a focus on the breath and an invitation to notice the particularities of your body and mind. We will then begin to move the body, paying attention to the subtleties of the practice. Anything that evolves from that foundation is organic. Throughout November I’ve been teaching without music in an effort to shed the distractions and crutches we rely on, often without noticing. I’ve invited students to take these classes as an opportunity to create space for their breath and their presence on the mat. Sometimes students take it a step further and look to areas in their lives where they can shed distractions or burdens and create the space to devote a little more attention. Essentially, a yoga class with me will leave you with a sense of calm and curiosity.

6. Do you find that cross training makes you a better yogi? What other forms of exercise do you enjoy? While I do not think there are ‘better’ or ‘worse’ yogis, I find that adding strength training to a yoga practice makes a yogi more capable of navigating the physical demands that yoga puts on the body. Many of the asanas are physically challenging, even when modified. Continuous practice makes a world of a difference, but if you’re new to yoga you haven’t had the opportunity to strengthen certain muscles. For instance, Chaturanga is a particularly challenging pose for new yogis and some end up injured as their body compensates for weakness in their triceps, shoulders, core, or wrists. Incorporating strength training  helps prevent injuries. Besides strength training, I also enjoy hiking and being outdoors.

7. What is your favorite article of yoga-related gear? A really great sports bra! It can be difficult to find one that strikes the right balance between support and restricting your breathing.

8. Who is your favorite Washington D.C. area yoga teacher? Oh there are so many! I go to Elissa Margolin’s classes whenever I want a sweet and sweaty flow, and I go to Aqeel Yaseen’s classes when I crave the discipline of Dharma yoga.

Take a class with Maddy at Yoga District


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