YOGI OF THE MONTH: MARY JAFFEE
Mary Saudek Jaffee
Arts administrator (music), recently retired. Most recently was I Executive Director of Project STEP, a classical music training program that identifies black and Latino 5-year-olds with exceptional musical ability, and gives them the training, support, and equipment they need to succeed. In 2014 we won the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities Award and I had the thrill of a lifetime in going to the White House to accept it from First Lady Michelle Obama. Project STEP continues to be a small, selective, highly successful program, with this year's graduates going to Yale and Juilliard.
Fun fact about you?
I am and always have been surrounded by males. I was the first female to be born since 1863 on my father's side and was the only girl in my family, with four brothers. I have two sons, my husband is one of two males in his family. My first grandchild - a girl - will be born in October, and I'm over the moon to have her commence another generation of Jaffees!
Favorite yoga pose?
I've grown to love downward dog. It feels really good, - finally! - stretchy, but solid.
When not on your mat, where can you be found?
If I'm in town, I'll be working on one of the organizations I'm involved with, mostly music ensembles, a couple of social justice programs. If in Maine, sailing or sitting on the porch looking out at the ocean.
How long have you been practicing and what's your latest yoga breakthrough?
I did a few classes in 2008, but my real practice began December 29, 2016. One of my sons gave me a one month certificate to Sadhana for the holidays. It was a great start. I'm about to finish my 7th month. My latest breakthrough; beginning to do crow successfully, although haven't done it in over a month now so it may be rusty now, but it was getting there!
How has yoga impacted your life?
When I began yoga in January I was pretty unhappy about being retired, despite its having been a three-year lead-up. Feeling unproductive and generally blue, I started yoga thinking at least I'd get in decent physical shape. The classes were immediately satisfying while being challenging, and I felt buoyed physically and mentally. Yoga continues to lift my spirits and restores a sense of wellbeing. I enjoy being in the company of the thoughtful, kind teachers of this studio, who are always encouraging and inspiring.
It's a service to the community to reach people on both sides of my age (a few months from 70) and encourage them to take classes. Our bones become brittle and muscles stiff, balance is increasingly challenging and strength diminishes. Yoga reverses those processes, eases pain, improves balance and builds strength. It is liberating!