An Interview with Tally
by Heather Quinn
After talking to enough people, I’ve come to this belief: some people find yoga but sometimes, yoga finds the people. And I think yoga found Tally. When Tally was around 16, she found an old yoga video tucked away somewhere in the house and decided to throw it on. As she remembers it, it was something like a woman in a white leotard doing poses at some awfully magical place, like the Grand Canyon. Tally started following along. And she says, it just felt innate. “I remember thinking, my body has done this before.” That was the beginning of her asana practice.
But Tally had already wandered toward some of the philosophy of yoga years earlier. Her Dad passed away when she was just eight years old, and she says she remembers having an overwhelm of questions and very few answers. In all her greenness, she felt a lot of fear around the idea of death and such abrupt final endings. A couple years later, in 7th grade, one of her friend’s Moms gave her a copy of the Tibetan Book of The Dead. And within it, Tally began to sense some answers, a direction. “That was the first light within a philosophy, a different way of looking at death.” So she found herself, as a young teen, “contemplating being in this body, how we can live and breathe…” through different life experiences. She says, “That was the beginning of Eastern philosophy.”
I think this is part of why Tally’s yoga practice is so holistic; in a way, she’s been following the stepping stones she’s been given, from one part of the practice to the next. She does practice and teach the postures, but there is much more there. And there kind of always has been. One area of her practice flows into the next; there isn’t much division. And Tally herself has a flow about herself. When we meet, she wears a black sundress and bare feet. We sit on a couch in her acupuncture business space which is still and quiet. With a smile, she talks about how, after a semester in college, without ever having received a massage, she left and signed up for massage school. She says simply, “I just did it.”
Study of massage and learning about the mind, body, spirit connection began to bring together the different parts of her asana and philosophy practice and grow it even more. Then, after studying a year abroad in China, she decided to earn her Master’s degree in Chinese medicine. Although extremely difficult study, you can tell by the way she talks about it that it fascinated her and suited her, while it challenged her. And it also brought her yoga around full circle: now, not just understanding the mind, body, spirit connection, and not just teaching it through asana,but also, treating it. Not just embracing the flow within her own life and practice, but encouraging the flow- or “chi”- in others.
When I ask her how she would describe her yoga practice now, she says, “I would say it’s a necessity. I have to do yoga.” She says she returns to the mat and, “it’s like coming home,” and that it allows her to feel more grounded and stable. She practices every day but emphasizes how every day, her practice looks different. One day it might be an hour and a half of poses, but another, it might be playing the harmonium for two hours or pranayama for 20 minutes. She says the key, though, is being “fully present in your breath,” regardless of what form the practice takes. She talks about the importance of having learned to tune in to what her body needs each day and practice accordingly. And she says that sensitivity is necessary if you’re aiming, like she is, to have a sustainable practice: one that aims to last a lifetime, rather than a class time.
It seems fitting Tally feels her forte of teaching is flow classes. Because the way her practice found her was so fluid and natural. Because she followed her own life’s questions into places where she felt answered, and continued onward. Because she has studied the flow within herself in a philosophical way and also, the flow in everyone, in a physiological way. And so she can teach us what she has learned herself, which is not just to find yourself in the current, but allow the current in yourself to lead you.