If you’ve never practiced with Mary Beth LaRue, it’s high time you settle on your mat and enjoy her sweet release. This Los Angeles-based yogi is more than a teacher—she’s a guiding light, helping her students on a path toward positivity. She’s down-to-earth and yet still carries a sense of whimsy. Best of all, Mary Beth’s classes inspire the most crucial reality check: What is important to you, and how do you respect those things?
These teachings span outside the classroom. Over the past decade, Mary Beth has traveled the world teaching professional cyclists, presented at Wanderlust Festivals, designed an online program for Yoga Journal, and built custom yoga programs for rehabilitation centers, homeless shelters, and the Down Syndrome Association of Los Angeles. If that wasn’t enough, this former journalist is the co-founder of Rock Your Bliss, a yoga-inspired coaching movement for the mind and body. In every endeavor, Mary Beth’s mission is to help folks create an inspired life. Her video class packs, “Ground to be Found” and “Easy Does It” are part of The Release on Wanderlust TV, and feature slow-flow yoga videos designed to physically soothe and emotionally inspire.
In this installment of our 10 Yogi Questions, Mary Beth reveals her insights on the power of perspective, the value of honest connection, and the wild journey of being human.
What is the most powerful thing someone has said to you?
That I have absolute choice in believing my thoughts. It’s such a simple perspective but not something I had considered until my mid-twenties. It has been a complete game changer for me in the way that I approach my life and my relationships. I have choice in my perspective and how I choose to think, speak, act, and show up.
When is a moment when you realized yoga transformed your life?
I remember a teacher telling me that as I practice more and more, things that are no longer “serving me” will begin to fall away. People, things, and habits that weren’t healthy for me have fallen away with a quite a bit of ease. The more I practice (especially meditation) the more clear the “next right step” is to me.
What do you feel is the greatest misconception regarding yoga?
That you must be physically “flexible.” I have always been hyper mobile and flexible and my yoga practice taught me strength. You need to have a balance of both flexibility and strength. I value embodiment over perfection in all poses, practices, and people.
What is something you wish you knew when beginning your yoga practice?
To enjoy falling in love with it. I’d give anything to re-take that first class when I fell madly in love with my practice. I had such a sense of hope that this practice would heal me. Over the years my practice has helped with anxiety, fear, and even my auto immune disorder—between yoga, meditation and clean eating I’m medication free! I am so grateful for it.
What is one thing your students might not know about you?
That I used to have a major fear of public speaking… Even to more than five people! Now I just love connecting with people, whether it’s one-on-one or online or in a class or on a stage teaching to thousands. I read in a Matt Strom’s book that “Fear is just excitement without breath” and I’ve always loved that.
What trait do you most value in your friends?
I gotta say three traits: Loyalty, vulnerability, and sense of humor. We show up. We go deep. And we laugh a lot.
What is your personal mantra?
Happiness equals reality minus expectations. I’ve had this as my mantra for years because it’s so simple and yet such a big concept. To me it means that this moment, just as it is, is enough. Getting stuck in the headspace of “I’ll be happy when _____” prevents us from enjoying what’s right in front of our face. I can recall it in the moment and it pulls me back to what’s truly important: Being in my body, breathing deeply, spending time with my family and exploring my yoga practice in a creative way.
What is the first yoga pose you do when getting off an airplane? Why?
Side stretch and a heart opener with hands clasped behind by back. My torso is where I often feel “stuck” in my body and I spend a lot of time building my core and enjoying heart openers on blocks. I also take a lot of seated twists in my seat.
What are the building blocks of sustainable happiness?
Through my work with my company Rock Your Bliss, I’ve found that the building blocks of sustainable happiness are knowing my values and what’s most important to me, how I am embody those values (i.e. values in action) and what I’m creating for myself (through actions, language, and perspective moment to moment).
For example, one of my values is connection. I embody connection by making eye contact, listening deeply, spending more time disconnected from my cell phone, practicing yoga and meditation daily, etc. Connection for me creates deeper relationships and bonds both within and with others. It’s a sense of trust.
What would you like to see change within the yoga industry?
Much less focus on physicality and more focus on the message of yoga. I’ve talked to so many people (especially women) who now equate yoga with what they’ve seen on Instagram—a perfect body in a challenging posture—and avoid it for that reason. I would love to see more focus on authenticity and vulnerability, or a celebration that this practice is for ALL. How do we get there? Talking about all aspects of being “human” and exploring these aspects through our yoga practice.
For instance, years ago I wrote a blog post about a big argument my then fiancé (now husband) and I had, and the doubt and fear it created for me. I was really nervous to post it because we had a pretty perfect looking relationship on the outside but were going through some major stuff. The moment I pressed “publish” emails and comments began pouring in from people going through the same thing and were so grateful they weren’t alone. There’s major power in the “me too.”