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Teacher Spotlight: Maria Villegas

This month, we’re putting the spotlight on Maria. Whether you rise and shine with Maria’s 6 am classes or flow with her on weekends and evenings, you know she is an unstoppable ray of sunshine every time you meet. And you also know she’s going to make your muscles feel the slow burn. Her classes are nothing short of dynamic, fun, and calming – have you gotten on the mat with her yet?

Keep scrolling to read what Maria has to say about yoga, her practice, and more!

When, where, how did you come across yoga and what got you hooked to the practice?

I stepped into my first yoga class at a gym in 2006, and I thought it would be a nice stretchy supplement to my other activities. Of course, I loved all the stretching, but I was caught off guard by how hard it was! I remember my hands slipping on my own sweat in down dog (okay – this still happens) and being VERY confused when my teacher demonstrated crow pose. But I grew to love it – it felt good to build more strength and flexibility, and I loved the sweet satisfaction that came with learning something new.

I started an almost daily practice at my nearby studio, and it was there that my practice shifted. While I loved (and still do) all the physical play that is part of yoga, what really got me hooked were the benefits that yoga brought to the rest of my life. Learning to breathe through the challenging physical postures has helped me stay patient and centered in many other moments in daily life. Learning to sit in the quiet of my own thoughts and be comfortable with all the discomfort that comes up is a constant practice of yoga. Practicing the art of surrender and letting go is a forever lesson! The connection between the movement and the mind in yoga has endless lessons that I continue to love learning!

What’s your favorite pose at the moment and why?

I love half moon! I love the challenge of balancing on one leg, but also being totally open in the front body…it takes a lot of focus but feels freeing at the same time. And there are so many variations to play with – this pose is never easy and never boring!

Do you have a current favorite mantra, sutra, or any phrase that you’d like to share as a form of inspiration to others starting or deepening their practice?

“Repetition is beautiful,” is a quote from Prince, which I say a lot, and think to myself a lot. For me, embracing repetition allows me to make room to problem solve, be creative, and handle whatever nonsense comes my way. In my own yoga practice and in all the classes I teach, I have a ritual of always starting with Sun Salutation A (and often times other Sun Sals as well). The rest of class might get funky – but these movements will always be the ol’ standby and a nod to the traditional roots of yoga.

What’s one weird/funny/random fact that our community may or may not know about you? Can be yoga or non-yoga related

I’m the youngest of five girls! Having four older sisters is like having 4 extra moms – too many pros and cons to point out.

What’s something funny you’ve said during a yoga class or did during a yoga class as a teacher or student?

I’ve entirely skipped an entire side (of the body) in a yoga class. Sadly, I think I’ve done this more than once. Oops! Lefts and Rights are so hard!

Want to practice with Maria?

Here are your chances to get on the mat with Maria this month:

  • Every Wednesday: Power Vinyasa at 6 am
  • Tuesday, October 23: Power Vinyasa at 6 am

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Nicci Randall

Nicci city-hopped until she landed in Portland, practicing yoga all along the way since 2007. She completed her 200 hr teacher training with YogaWorks in 2015, under Dani Ibarra and Risa Albertson. She teaches to challenge and inspire, with a well sequenced Vinyasa practice and a love for core and arm balances!

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