Photo Rosalind Newmark
PARAYOGA® LEVEL III CERTIFIED
CYT with BODY BALANCE YOGA
CERTIFIED FOUR DESIRES TRAINER
MFA IN DANCE
Mary Johnston-Coursey began the study of yoga in 1980, jumping into a daily Astanga practice (before there were yoga mats), and started teaching in 1981. She has since studied numerous styles with many amazing teachers, and is deeply grateful to them all. Mary has found her yogic path in the Tantric tradition of ParaYoga, and is truly honored to be a part of this Sri Vidya lineage which links her to the traditions of the Himalayan Masters.
The focus of this Tantric approach to yoga is to cultivate a brilliant inner light through practice, then blossom it outward into our everyday living. Into this foundation she incorporates an extensive knowledge of alignment principles and a therapeutic approach to yoga. Mary sees yoga as a celebration of our physical experience in the world, as well as a preparation and gateway to the deeper spiritual practices of pranayama, kriya, and meditation. She meets students where they are, and empowers them in building their capacity and strength while maintaining ease and freedom in all aspects of practice - physical, emotional / mental, and spiritual.
Mary first encountered her teacher Rod Stryker during a weekend intensive in 2004, and knew that this work would change her life. She is a certified Level III ParaYoga teacher and a Four Desires Trainer. She has studied the therapeutic aspects of yoga extensively through Body Balance Yoga, as well as with the following influential teachers: Donna Farhi, Judith Lasater, Jenny Otto, Elise Browning Miller, Jamie Allison, Felicity Green, and Richard Miller. Beyond the yoga world, Mary's teachers include a Jesuit - Jim Mara, a dancer - Aron Tomaroff, and most importantly her amazing parents - Bob and Terry Johnston. Mary integrates all of these influences to work with students individually or in group classes, in support of their growing wellness and empowerment.
With yoga as her grounding base, Mary holds an MFA in dance, and spent over twenty years as a professional dancer, teacher and choreographer. This deeply informs her understanding of yoga: choreography as a spiritual investigation and discipline; performing as an intimate understanding of energy and its sublime expression through the body. Multiple dance injuries gave her many opportunities for experiencing directly the therapeutic benefits of yoga. Mary also performs as a singer and a storyteller. She teaches movement, music and art to kids. She has worked in ceramic, stone, and tile mosaic. She sees the creative impulse, in all its many forms, as the source of joy. ParaYoga is, for her, an opportunity to engage the outward self towards an inward focus, to seek and discover the essential seed of this creative impulse from within.
Mary is both thrilled and humbled to share this work with her students.