I’m so thrilled to introduce this month’s cover model, Mary Lyn Jenkins, a yoga teacher in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, and the winner of Yoga Journal’s 2016 reader cover contest.
A studio owner with more than 1,000 hours of training with Baron Baptiste, Mary Lyn impressed us with her passion for and dedication to the practice—not to mention her super-sweet demeanor at our cover shoot. And she must have impressed you, too, since YJ readers chose her as our winner from among five inspiring finalists in an online vote. Meet Mary Lyn below, and join her for class if you’re ever in her area.
Carin Gorrell: What prompted you to enter our cover contest?
Mary Lyn Jenkins: I was wrapping up YJ’s 21-Day Yoga Challenge and got an email notification about the contest. I didn’t think; I just entered. A few months later, I was with some girlfriends at dinner, and they said, “Yoga Journal chose you as a top-five candidate for the cover. It’s all over social media!” I got anxious and excited—and a little sick of seeing myself on Facebook.
CG: We had fun with you shooting your cover! What was surprising about the process?
MLJ: I was a set designer in my former life, so being around a camera is my first love—though I usually direct from behind the lens. Still, it felt effortless and was an experience I won’t forget.
CG: You opened Big Fish Power Yoga studio in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, in 2010, and this spring you expanded to a second studio in nearby Nocatee. When you’re hiring teachers, what qualities do you look for?
MLJ: I don’t do it alone—this has been my lesson with everything! I created a board of staff teachers with a strong moral compass and commitment to collaboration. While excellent teaching is very important, a good work ethic, the ability to click with others and be a team player, coachability, integrity, humble confidence, and an eagerness to remain a student are just as crucial.
CG: You and your studio do a lot of seva work. Why is giving back so important?
MLJ: I recognize the need to take my teaching to populations that can’t make it to classes regularly. My friend Megan Weigel created oMS Yoga, and we’re in partnership with them to offer free classes to anyone with multiple sclerosis. This is yoga: giving to people who may have never been reached if not for you.
CG: What is your favorite pose, and why?
MLJ: I love going upside down! After learning to fall with humor and grace and knowing that I’m going to survive, falling out of Handstand is now as much fun as sticking it.
CG: Do you have a mantra you live by?
MLJ: I ask myself each morning: What can I forgive; what can I embrace?
See also Teaching Yoga