Friday, January 4, 2013

Be the Change: 5 Questions with Mirjam Quinn

“Make some room for the stuff you want there to be room for.”  
~ Mirjam Quinn 
It’s that time of year when many of us are looking to make some changes in our life. Often that includes resolving to exercise regularly and find more balance within how we spend our time.

That is one of the reasons I found myself on my yoga mat at Beverly Bodyworks this morning in Mirjam’s Yoga `n Pilates class.

I had seen her status update last night on Facebook:
“In honor of the New Year, (we will) focus on working out some of the baggage that you might be ready to let go of in 2013! The playlist is fabulous...” 
and knew that I wanted needed to be there today.

In the midst of a seemingly endless, though incredibly therapeutic, round of sun salutations I started to wonder about what inspires Mirjam to be the woman, mother and fitness instructor that she is. As a longtime member and instructor at Beverly Bodyworks, I know why I keep coming back week after week and year after year, but I was curious to know what makes Mirjam want to “be the change” as one of the refrains in one of awesome songs in her playlist today kept repeating.

So I decided to find out by asking Mirjam five questions to help get to know her better and thought you would be interested in her answers.

I intend for this to be a regular series here on our Beverly Bodyworks website, so you can look forward to more “5 Questions” profiles of our Beverly Bodyworks team members and clients in the weeks to come.

Question #1: There are so many options to work out and stay fit in our Beverly neighborhood. Why do you like to teach and take exercises classes at Beverly Bodyworks? 

Answer: I’ve been with BBW for about five years now, and I love the sense of belonging and community that exists here. I get to work out with my friends while my kids play in the childcare room with their neighborhood buddies – so they are always excited to go to BBW, too. I love seeing Mary’s (she works at the church) friendly face every day – she always has a kind word and a Tootsie Roll for the little ones. I love that Sharon, one of the owners, comes to class almost every single day.

Question #2: This morning’s class was amazing – from the sun salutations, to your music playlist; and I loved the story/meditation that you shared with us at the end, about putting down some of the things we are carrying to help us open doors in our lives in 2013. Where do you get your inspiration? 

Answer: I attend other yoga classes as much as possible – I love participating in other people’s practices. You always pick up something new. I also have a steady home practice, and a circle of friends (most notably BBW’s very own KT!) who are interested in yoga and meditation. The conversations we have and practices we share also help me grow and learn. But most of the time, I don’t even plan a class – I get my inspiration from the women who come to class each Friday. I kind of just walk in, and see what everyone is bringing to their mat that day, and try to nudge the class in a direction that will meet everybody’s needs.

Question #3: Speaking of that fabulous playlist, it seemed to compliment our workout/practice today perfectly. Will you please share it with us? 

Answer: Of course! Here it is:

1. Ha Ma Durga by Donna De Lory 
One of the lyrics is: “I want to love through your love.” This song speaks about allowing oneself to soften so that you may participate in divine love. I thought that would be a nice way to start off a practice that focuses on letting go of the things we no longer need in order to make room for those things that we need and want more of in our lives. The more we love, and allow ourselves to be loved, the more we can let go of all of the things we hold on to in order to protect ourselves from being hurt.

2. Hari Har by Snatam Kaur
Snatam Kaur sings: “Creation in Action,” which obviously applies to everything that we do, on and off the yoga mat. Being a sentient being, capable of thinking and feeling and loving and creating the beauty that is our life story, is such a gift. And sometimes I think people forget that we have the power, and the privilege, to write our own story. So this seemed especially appropriate for a New Year’s class about new beginnings.

3. The Maha Mantra (Reggae Style) by C.C. White

4. Son of Shiva by MC Yogi

5. Be the Change by MC Yogi
This is possibly my favorite yoga-type song of all time. It hooks back into that idea of writing your own life story, of taking responsibility for yourself and for the world that you live in, of living thoughtfully and with meaning.

6. Sweet Virginia by the Rolling Stones
Annie, a local yoga teacher, used this song for her New Year’s Eve class this week, and I absolutely loved it – when that song came on during her class, I actually laughed out loud. I would never have thought of doing yoga to the Rolling Stones, but it was the perfect fit for that kind of class. It is a good reminder that, even at a challenging part of the class (or challenging parts of your life), you have it in you to persevere – you just have to put one foot in front of the other (as Mick Jagger points out, “you got it in you”). It’s also a nice reminder not to take yoga – or yourself – so very seriously all of the time.

7. Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right by Bob Dylan

8. This Little Light of Mine by Elizabeth Mitchell
I chose this song because I think that it is so important to honor the beauty within ourselves by noticing all of our wonderful qualities and by letting them shine.

9. Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley
That song was timed to start during the last round of sun salutations, at which point I expected everyone to be extraordinarily grateful that it was the last round of sun salutations. :)

10. Sa Ta Na Ma by Mirabel Ceiba
Actually, this is my favorite yoga-type song. I wrap up most classes with this song, which I absolutely love. It talks about “opening the window of your heart,” so again it fits with this theme of making space within yourself for joy, and gratitude, and love.

Question #4: Do you have any advice for those of us trying to make positive changes (i.e. New Years Resolutions) in 2013? 

Answer: When I was training for my first 15k, I was really worried on the day of my first 6-mile run. I had never run farther than 5 miles before, and for some reason, I was convinced that if I tried to run 6 miles, I would keel over on that darn hill on 111th and Longwood, and that I would never ever make it home. So when I got to the 5-mile marker, I was apprehensive. And then I just kept going, right past that marker that loomed so big in my mind. And I was fine. It turns out that the secret to running long distances is just to slow down and keep going. I think that applies nicely to New Year’s resolutions. You just slow down, and you don’t think too much about it, and you keep going. And if you trip and fall on your face, you dust yourself off and keep going (because if you don’t take yourself so seriously, then the failures that are so inevitable in life won’t seem like such a big deal either).

Question #5: I loved the story/meditation that you read to us while we were in shavasana (corpse pose) at the end of class. It was so inspiring as we embark on this New Year. Do you mind if we share it here so that those who weren’t at your class this morning can benefit from reading and reflecting on it? 

Answer: Not at all! The story is from Mark Nepo's The Book of Awakening. One of the students in the last meditation class I taught recommended it to me, and I absolutely love it. It has a small story and a meditation practice for every day of the year. (The story and meditation were from January 2nd in the book.)

Thank you so much for your time Mirjam! 

I know where I will be next Friday morning at 9:20 a.m. and I hope to see you there!

Stayed tuned for another edition of "5 Questions with People Who Love Beverly Bodyworks" soon...


  1. I love this: "slow down and keep going." Sometimes by creating those barriers in our minds, they loom larger than they actually are. They're just one more step beyond where we've already gone. And then another. :)

    We did an asana class with no music the other day, just holding each pose for 6 breaths. It was astounding ... I keep forgetting to write about it, but you've just reminded me!

  2. Thanks to Mirjam, I just added a bunch of new songs to my Kirtan playlist I use while writing.

    Sounds like a wonderful class and a gifted teacher. I love that she creates her classes in the moment, and that she likes to take lots of other yoga and fitness classes.