Mary Jahns is one of those people you meet and instantly start smiling. You can’t help but catch her infectious positive, gentle energy. Mary is someone who has been with Citizen Yoga from the first day it opened — in fact Citizen’s first day of yoga class was Mary’s too, and she hasn’t looked back. We are a week into the Citizen Yoga Wellness Starts with “We” Partner Challenge and today is the day that participants pay it forward by covering someone’s coffee in line behind them. It’s the kind of gesture that would probably make Mary smile — especially since she has worked at Starbucks for a long time.
Mary said she was first introduced to CY before it opened its doors through Kacee Must. Kacee would regularly come in for a morning coffee at Starbucks in Royal Oak where Mary worked. Mary described Kacee as light hearted and talkative, and remembered that she would always talk about how she was going to start a yoga studio and that Mary should come by when it opened. It was something Mary had always wanted to try and learned that classes were free opening week. So she made a commitment to go the first day and she has been a regular ever since.
However, starting yoga as a new practice wasn’t easy. “I couldn’t hold down dog,” she admitted. “I was five sizes larger than I am now.” By going almost five times a week, she not only connected with the growing Citizen community, making lifelong friends, but also started losing weight. People around her began to notice a difference. “People would ask, ‘oh, what do you do?’ I tell them I just do yoga.”
Her yoga practice has helped her set aside time for herself. Because she works in customer service and as a mom of two grown boys, her energy was always focused outward, in helping and nurturing others. Yoga allowed her to focus more inward, on nurturing and building her inner self.
“When I stepped into Citizen I was hearing more tidbits of philosophy and [was] like, oh, this is a different way to think,” she said. “It just clicked.” She credits teachers like Ann Fancy and Kacee with helping her feel comfortable in class by giving her modifications for movements. This was where she truly felt that yoga could be enjoyable for every body type. She mentioned how they wouldn’t make a big deal out of not being able to do a particular pose and just encourage her and others to breathe and sweat through whatever position they were in.
When asked what advice she would give to anyone going through a transition or starting on a new journey of learning Mary offered this, “Just take one thing you learn and apply it, and see where it takes you.” This is great advice for those a week into their wellness partner challenges. Whatever new things you learn in this dynamic month of wellness, apply it and see where it takes you. The partner challenge is all about stepping outside of your comfort zone with a friend and pushing each other to be the best versions of yourselves. So today as you and your wellness partner go through your morning routines, pop by Starbucks, say hello to Mary, and buy the person behind you some coffee!