About Marie: "Ashtanga Yoga teacher and certified Rocket Yoga Teacher in Washington DC, Virginia, Puerto Rico, and Florida. I offer yoga classes, retreats, workshops, private sessions, and teacher trainings in the United States as well as the Caribbean including Mexico and Puerto Rico. All of my teachings are grounded in a daily Ashtanga Mysore Advanced practice, tantric philosophy, and personal experiences with great teachers who have shared their philosophies along the way (David C. Kyle from Ashtanga Yoga Puerto Rico; Faith Scimecca from Woodley Park Yoga; Tim Feldmann from Miami Life Center)."
Marie was kind enough to answer questions for us as part of our Featured yogi series.
How did you begin practicing yoga?
I established a regular yoga practice while completing graduate school at Virginia Tech. After the shootings occurred on campus in 2007, I became much more open and willing to explore alternative healing modalities for anxiety. My friend invited me to participate in an Ashtanga yoga teacher training with her for 9 months which worked out perfectly with the academic calendar. At the time, I had no interest in becoming a yoga teacher, but I was very curious about the philosophy, anatomy, and origins of this practice and why it was working for me so I chose to enroll. Throughout the process of establishing a personal practice, my practice grew, my emotional ups and downs stabilized, I became more grounded and centered, and overall, I felt lighter in myself. These experiences totally transcended anything I had previously learned.
Before I knew it, I was teaching donation only classes to fellow students until I felt comfortable with the teaching role. I slowly began to pick up more classes, teaching at local gyms, studios, and at home. Slowly but surely, yoga began to take over my life in a very enriching way. Once I graduated from Virginia Tech, I moved to DC and stumbled upon Yoga District. I fell in love with the community and the low key vibe of the space right away- its mission is to be sustainable, eco-friendly, and affordable for all. After practicing at Yoga District, I was offered several classes in the studio on H St. which was about to open at the time. The stars lined up perfectly. The more I taught, the more I fell in love with the practice, and the more I was inspired to practice and seek out more and more inspiration from amazing teachers. I now teach yoga 13 times a week along with several private sessions and am extremely happy serving our community in this way.
Why is yoga important to you?
I practice to develop my body, breath, and mind so they serve me; so that I can target something that I want to know more about. I want to know more about my body so that I learn about my holding patterns so that I know how to not make decisions that harm my body. I want to know more about my physical, energetic, and mental state so that I can understand it, manage it, and it does not disempower or hurt me. For me, this self-led practice continues to be about healing, expansion, and developing a larger arena of receptivity, grace, and safety. It is the pursuit of illumination, it is the pursuit of love and the investigation of myself. It is a true spiritual practice in which you gradually learn how to access and listen to the deepest part of your guidance and surrender to that and trust that guidance. Ashtanga Mysore practice is devoted to deep listening, deep breathing, and deep contemplation. I'm someone who is still exploring this healing and I want more people to talk about and share it with.
What made you want to teach yoga?
My mission in life is to continue to learn, expand, and manifest while serving others. As I travel along my path discovering new and insightful ways to practice, love, and serve, my goal is to empower others through the practice of yoga to re-pattern the body and mind to move into a place of well being and harmony.
Do you have a preferred type of yoga to teach/practice? Please elaborate.
I practice and teach Ashtanga Yoga and Rocket yoga. Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga was traditionally taught by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in Mysore, India and Rocket Yoga was created by Larry Schultz from San Francisco. Both disciplines involve a set series of yoga postures that are linked together using the breath. They are both an energetic and empowering form of yoga that aims to bring peace, strength, flexibility, and stamina by engaging the body, mind, and breath into a very particular sequence of postures. Each practice begins with sun salutations, followed by standing postures, then seated postures, and ends with a specific closing sequence. The intention of the practice is to become the embodiment of yoga using proper breath, alignment, and movement.
Check out a short video of Marie practicing.
Describe a yoga class with Marie Belle. What makes the experience unique?
My classes encourage students to grow into their inner consciousness to facilitate ease of movement, steadiness of breath, and balanced growth on and off the mat. I challenge students physically while teaching about life- affirming, tantric philosophies that support emotional healing. Additionally, I have extensive training as a Psychologist in Social Emotional Development (Ph.D. from Virginia Tech; I teach General Psychology and Developmental Psychology to undergraduate students at The George Washington University) and Women’s Studies (Graduate Certificate). I utilize this keen awareness of the intellectual and emotional body to empower those who practice consistently, for a long period of time, with devotion. My classes are highly influenced by the athleticism, strength, and balance from Ashtanga and Rocket yoga, the gracefulness from Anusara’s life-affirming alignment principles, and the therapeutic and calming benefits of Hot yoga. I am a devoted student and mindful teacher of yoga who provides an environment for both an invigorating practice and an empowering experience.
Who is your favorite Washington D.C. area yoga teacher?
My favorite yoga teachers in DC are Faith Scimecca from Woodley Park Yoga and Mike Graglia at Yoga District.