A Mindful Moment with Yogi Muse, Merrit
Merrit Buffie is my soul sister, twin flame, and kindred spirit. She is the one person that I can share absolutely everything with — from my wildest dreams to my most shameful secrets. Slow to judge and quick to listen, Merrit is one of the most disarming, ethereal, and nurturing souls I have ever met. She is deeply intuitive, and if she says she doesn’t feel right about someone or something, it pays to take notice.
As my spiritual guide and closest confidante, Merrit has helped me to learn to trust my instincts and to pay close attention to the subtle signs around me. A few years ago, Merrit introduced me to the inspirational world of yoga, and has taught me the importance of living the yogi lifestyle on and off the mat.
When did you first start practising yoga and what compelled you to try it out?
I began practising yoga about 16 years ago. I was in school and it was very demanding. I had read about the benefits of yoga and sought it out to help me relax and focus.
Who was Merrit Buffie before yoga and how would you say the journey of yoga has transformed you?
Before doing yoga, and even for a while afterwards (and still sometimes today!), I was very reactionary. The deeper I went into my practice the more awareness I cultivated about myself and the choices I make. I’ve learned to turn the gaze inward and navigate life in a more mindful way. Yoga has empowered me to live compassionately towards myself and others, and how to create balance both on and off the mat.
What encouraged you to begin teaching yoga? Who is your favourite yoga teacher and why?
I originally wanted to take the teacher training to learn more about yoga; I had no intentions of teaching. It was my teacher who encouraged me to try it, and I did so reluctantly and have grown to love it.
I have many favourite teachers! Jan and Shauna at Yoga Centre Winnipeg have so much knowledge, experience, and insight that I’m blown away every time I practise with them. Liane Cherrett and her approach to Vinyasa have empowered me on a whole other level. She has really shown me the power of manifestation, love, and altruism. Monica Angelatos has so much expertise, and always brings joy and a sense of playfulness to her classes.
What is one of the most valuable lessons you’ve learned from the mat and have been able to incorporate into your daily life?
Remember to breathe.
What pose makes you feel most connected with your true self? What about it makes you feel this way?
Honestly? Tadasana (Mountain pose) or Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II). In both I feel grounded, elevated, balanced, and powerful. Many things in life can make us feel defeated, deflated, and disconnected. To me, there is an understated beauty that lies in standing tall and harnessing the strength to do what comes next.
What would you say is the greatest gift of being a yoga instructor? How has it affected your life to share this gift with others?
There are lots of gifts, but the greatest one is how much you learn from your students. You learn to be spontaneous, creative, open, and receptive. You have to be authentic, compassionate, and mindful. You take those tools you need to teach and incorporate them into your whole life.
What advice do you have for those curious to start but feel intimidated, or for the students who have started a practice but feel discouraged?
It doesn’t matter what level you’re at, there will always be a reason not to do yoga, but you have to push through that and start where you are. If you’re intimidated by one studio, try a different one. There are a lot of great studios and instructors in the province, so shop around until you find a good fit. I encourage anyone who hasn’t done yoga before or has just started to find a studio that teaches you the fundamentals. Be patient and kind to yourself. I’ve heard many people say they aren’t flexible enough to do yoga so they avoid it. Truthfully, that’s like saying you are too hungry to eat.
What’s next for Yogi Merrit? Where would you like to take your practice?
Keep learning; keep teaching. I’d like to carve out more time for my personal practice.
What are the top five yoga flow jams you couldn’t live without?
My most frequently played are:
Shamanic Dream (Anugama)
Ganapati Om (Donna De Lory)
The Spirit of Yoga (Ben Leinbach)
Om Yoga Vol. 1 (Various artists)
And my own playlists. My favourite is the “M” playlist: Massive Attack, Morcheeba, and Moby.
* Photo courtesy of Merrit Buffie