Molly strikes a yoga pose.

Molly Francis is a frequent member of my gratitude lists. Though we’ve been friends for less than a year, Molly is a true kindred spirit in many ways –  we even brought in the New Year together at a midnight yoga class! A local yogini, Molly discovered yoga a decade ago (she started using a DVD…) and it has since taken her on an adventure that I’m honored to be able to write about.  Wherever you are, and wherever you’re coming from, Molly proves by example that anyone can make yoga their own.

Now 29, Molly, whose journey into yoga began when she was just 19, says it didn’t take long for her to feel a change in her daily life when she started her practice.

“I noticed this huge shift in my physical and mental being that I just became more at peace and was able to focus better,” she says, “I have this one memory of doing yoga on a spring night and I came home and I had a little bit of homework to do and the homework just flew by. I was like ‘wow if this is what yoga does to me, I want more of it.’”

So, she went and got more of it.

At 23, Molly went to New Zealand and stayed on an organic farm where she met yogis who she says introduced her to the “spiritual dimension” of her practice.  “I stayed at an ashram and woke up at 5 in the morning to a gong to wake up and practice 2.5 hours of yoga.”

After her organic farming adventure, Molly went to Duke to get her masters.  During her time in North Carolina, she did yoga locally and, in another turn of events, decided to take a step back from graduate school.

“I was really lost and yoga was my cornerstone at that point in my life,” she said. In her year off from graduate school, Molly practiced yoga tirelessly, and ended up working with yoga guru Patti Townsend.  After nearly completing a 500-hour teacher training with Patti (she’s almost done!), Molly stepped away feeling that the journey to becoming a teacher is actually teaching her more about herself than anything else:

“The only way I can cultivate the seeds in somebody else is if I know it in myself…” she says, “…I feel as though I just wanted to know more … not know more about yoga, but know more about myself and accept myself as much as I could, as much I could be connected to God, in order to transmit that energy to other people.”

She has since taught classes part-time at Energy Within in Marblehead, and she also teaches occasionally at Marblehead Athletic Club.

To Molly, the journey of yoga, and of life, is never-ending.  Every journey has a beginning, though, and hers began with a gentle yoga DVD – she’s a firm believer that yours can too. (Mine did!)  Ever evolving, her yoga practice is coming full circle, and she says it’s currently in the gentle place where it began.

“The more accepting I become of myself, the more I am able to accept anybody that teaches yoga- I will take a class from everyone, whether they’ve been teaching for a year or a hundred years,” she says.  “No matter what, yoga is yoga, and I’m going to be able to make it my practice.”

Molly says she now practices daily, and mostly on her own, though she enjoys taking classes regardless of who’s teaching. After a decade of yoga, she now sees it as an integral part of, and metaphor for, her everyday life.

“Yoga, I’m realizing, is so much about life,” she says. “Yeah, we get on our mats each day and we do these poses, but what really matters is how I go out into the world each day … it’s how I meet myself and meet everyone around me – that’s the true yoga.”