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A mother and her daughters bond over their shared love of yoga

“Yoga is a way to stop and be in your life versus doing your life,” says Irene Greene Murphy, a licensed social worker.

Murphy first tried yoga in 1994. At the time, she had undergone back surgery, and doctors told her she would likely experience lifelong back pain and decreased mobility. More than 20 years later, Murphy, 61, says yoga has become part of her daily life. Her practice on the mat has helped her lose some weight, strengthen her legs and regain full mobility. She says it helped her transition from an intense “type-A” personality into one that is more balanced, improving herself not only in body, but in mind and spirit as well.

In her private practice in Northeast Harbor, Murphy finds herself recommending yoga to her clients regularly. However, some of the first people she recommended to try yoga were her two daughters, Nicky White and Selina Greene Warren.

“As yoga helped me improve myself, I would suggest it to my girls, who were in their teens.” At first they both discounted the idea,” Murphy says. “However, as they went on their own life journeys, they found yoga helped with their own personal growth.”

“Being a teenager, I didn’t listen to my mother,“ says White, 31, an event planner for The Black Tie Company in Portland. “It wasn’t until college that I explored (the practice of yoga).”

White’s sister eventually found her way to her first yoga class, too. “I had a nontraditional path toward my career as an educator,” says Warren, 35, a second grade teacher at Kingfield Elementary School. “In my early twenties, I was a bartender traveling seasonally for work. I initially went to my first yoga class as a way to find clarity and figure out my life’s path.”

Over the years, yoga has become a part of each of their lives. It’s a common interest that the three share. However, living in different parts of the state, it’s not often they convene to practice together. The upcoming Maine YogaFest provides them a weekend-long opportunity to share their bond as mothers, daughters and sisters, over one thing they love.

“We all agreed YogaFest was a great way for us to celebrate ‘us’ and share something we believe is good for our souls,” says Murphy.

Warren adds, “It’s something we all value for personal wellness, but it brings us closer when we collectively practice.”

Over the years, yoga became an outlet for each woman to take a step back from her hectic life. The act of spending an hour on a mat flowing through various yoga poses has resulted in different experiences.

“As I have now become ‘nana,’ the mind, body and spirit work helps keep me young and healthy,” says Murphy. “It helps me respond versus react to my life and all the changes that occur every second, minute and hour, every day and year.”

“Carving time out of my schedule of teaching, committee work, extracurricular activities, and my responsibilities as a wife and mother of two is daunting,” says Warren. “Yoga allows me to take a break from my overzealous and never-ending to-do list.”

For White, practicing yoga brings her awareness, peace and ease. She says, “It has taught me to be more patient and kind to myself and those around me.”

In fact, White loved the benefit of yoga so much she became a certified instructor, and like her mother, she find herself suggesting yoga to many people.

“I’m constantly encouraging people to try yoga and give it a shot,” she says. “Yoga, to me, is basically stretching and breathing. If you can stretch and you can breath, you can do yoga.”

Emma Bouthillette, a Biddeford native, is the author of “A Brief History of Biddeford.” She loves a good book and walking the beach with her corgi. www.emmabouthillette.com

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