FEATURED TEACHER OF THE MONTH
Margaret Padma Tumelty
Interview by Sara McElwain
Margaret Padma Tumelty resides in Rockaway Beach, Queens. She received her Sanskrit name, Padma (which means lotus), after completing Intermediate Teacher Training, in 2013 in Yogaville, Virginia. She works in the New York City public schools as an occupational therapy supervisor and has been involved with Integral Yoga since her training in the Yoga for the Special Child method, in 2005. Padma continued her studies with Yoga of the Heart in 2014 and Yoga for Arthritis (Level 1) in 2016. She is planning to take Adaptive Yoga training this summer in Yogaville. She enjoys serving at the Institute and in Yogaville whenever she has a break in her school calendar.
What is your definition of Yoga?
Integral Yoga to me is an exquisitely designed set of practices that helps me to stay grounded so that I can manage the stress of everyday life better. Yoga has so many branches that it’s hard for me to define it in only one way. While I enjoy Hatha Yoga, I have gained much from Karma Yoga (serving others). Karma Yoga has helped me to find more meaning and purpose in my life. Performing a task, whether it’s washing walls, cleaning shoe racks, or preparing the altar for mantra initiation, with mindfulness and love transforms the task as well as the one performing it. It’s quite beautiful to work in silence next to another person and meditatively perform a Karma Yoga task. Even in the silence, the vibration of love is so strong that it’s almost palpable. I find the greatest joy in service, and that includes my service as a teacher at Integral.
What do you love about Yoga?
I love that Yoga is about acceptance, compassion, and love. Yoga is there for anyone who wants it. I also love that you can study and practice Yoga for years and still have more to learn and absorb. I like attending workshops given by the senior teachers and Swamis at Integral. I also learn a great deal from my students. I consider it a great blessing to be a part of the Integral Yoga sangha.
Why do you teach Yoga?
I teach Yoga because I have found the teachings of Integral Yoga to be a source of strength and inspiration in my life, and I want to inspire others.
It’s been quite a transition for me to be teaching Yoga to adults after working with children for many years. I always wanted to teach adults but did not have the opportunity to do so until I started to substitute in classes at IYI in November 2015. I began teaching Level I classes, the introductory class, and the fundamentals workshop. In September 2016 I started teaching a mixed-level1(I/II) class regularly. Teaching Yoga to others helps me to stay consistent in my own practice. I am able to share with my students what I learn through my practice.
What are the particular areas of Yoga in which you are now teaching or in which you have created your own, special offerings? What attracted you to those areas?
I continue my work with people with special needs. Blending occupational therapy and Yoga has been very rewarding, as they seem to complement each other naturally. I have worked with people with cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, multiple sclerosis, and other conditions. Yoga has something to offer to everyone regardless of the level of physical mobility or ability.
I have taught the fundamentals workshop several times this year and really enjoy it. It’s an opportunity to form a “mini sangha” with the students, as we all support and learn from one another. It’s a very interactive class. The format has more flexibility, so I can bring some Yoga philosophy into the class. Each week we touch on a different Sutra from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.
Teaching mixed-level classes has been a natural progression from Level I. I like introducing new poses to my students and assisting them in deepening their practice.
What do you hope students will receive from you as a teacher?
In the fundamentals workshop, I hope to help the students, many of whom are new to Yoga or returning after a long break, to recognize that they can indeed practice asana. We problem-solve together, using props, chairs, and other modifications to help all find a comfortable, steady pose.
I hope to encourage my students to practice Yoga with self-awareness and compassion toward themselves (ahimsa) so that they leave feeling full and empowered to continue on their spiritual journey.
I hope they start to enjoy chanting. Being an introvert by nature, I was initially hesitant to lead chanting, but I love it when we are able to get a really lively chant going in class. It elevates the vibration in the whole room. I continue to work on increasing my repertoire of chants.
Last, I hope they learn to appreciate the power of the breath to ease the body into a posture as well as to calm the mind.
Do you have a favorite book or Yoga mat or product that you like, something you sincerely enjoy and wish to share?
I love listening to and chanting with Krishna Das; he brings me to such a peaceful, centered place. I often put his CDs on at home and chant with him. I liked his book Chants of a Lifetime very much as well. In fact, it sparked a desire in me to travel to India. I actually began the trip last year and was delayed (in Germany; a long story), but I will get there one day.
Ongoing classes: Sundays, Level I/II, 6:15 p.m.
Coming workshops at IYI: Fundamentals, June 2017