MARQUETTE - For years, Mary Connor has attempted to spread her knowledge of a 5,000-year-old eastern tradition in the Marquette area. Connor has worked for more than a decade as a teacher of yoga, an ancient set of practices aimed at maintaining a balance and integration among the body, mind and spirit.
Yoga places focus on breathing, exercise and meditation and Connor describes the entire process as relaxing and stress-relieving.
The owner of the Marquette Yoga Center, Connor has lived in the area for more than two decades and has been teaching yoga for about 12 years now. She opened her studio just last fall.
Mary Connor moves into a yoga position during a class on Monday at the Marquette Yoga Center in the Masonic Square in Marquette. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
Connor leads Shawna Oson, right, through a variety of yoga positions. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
"I've been very pleased," she said. "I had kind of a following. I was actually teaching out of (Marquette's) Sports Rack for about six years and everybody said I needed a bigger place, so I decided to open the yoga studio."
Yoga helps the mind and the body, according to Connor, who said it helps to relieve stress and tension, in addition to making practitioners stronger and more flexible.
"The amount of strengthening that you get from it and the toning of your body is amazing," she said. "Most people ask me if I lift weights, and I don't. I just do yoga."
Connor said she now has approximately 200 clients, and while she swears by the benefits of yoga, she knows it may not be for everyone.
"I try to at least let people know what the benefits of yoga are and you can make the choice of whether you want to come," she said.
Connor said her local customer base is still growing, but has slowed with the onset of summer. However, she said she has received a good deal of business from tourists and visitors, in town for a few days or a few weeks.
"They're all showing up at my door," she said.
Connor was first introduced to yoga when she attended a class on her honeymoon to Jamaica more than 20 years ago and she became interested in it once again in the late 1990s.
Her interest led, finally, to a teaching role. Just prior to the start of her Sports Rack-based teaching, Connor achieved certification stating she had trained for at least 200 hours.
Then recently, she received her RYT 500 certification, indicating that she is a teacher with a minimum of 500 hours of teacher training.
At her studio, located in the Masonic Square in downtown Marquette, classes are going on every day of the week with one of eight certified instructors.
Connor suggests clients attend two weekly sessions, which last at least an hour and include a warm-up period and a focus on stretching, strength and balance.
She ensures her door is open for anyone interested in yoga, whether they are a veteran or a newcomer.
"I believe there are many people who can benefit a lot from yoga," Connor said.
Kyle Whitney can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.