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Look Who’s Talking – Mary Beth Thomas

TELL US ABOUT THE NAME “MBT YOGA”: When I realized that my initials, MBT, also stood for “Mind Body Transformation,” I knew that had to be the name.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF YOUR JOB?: Helping people find their own innate ability to heal…helping them find their path toward healing and wholeness.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE COMFORT FOOD?: I love dark chocolate.

DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY OFF: A perfect day for me is about connecting deeply with myself, my Source, my family and friends… and usually involves yoga, meditation, a shared meal or a quiet walk outdoors.

Mary Beth Thomas has been practicing yoga for twenty years now, but it wasn’t until the last decade that she realized that she wanted to make teaching yoga her full-time occupation. With this in mind, six years ago Mary Beth devised and implemented a 10 year plan to allow her transition from a career in Information Technologies onto her new path. Happily, she did not need the entire decade and instead found herself achieving her goal early with the founding of mbt yoga.

Initially, Mary Beth thought she would mostly be teaching people like herself, plagued with the hunched shoulders, stiff hips and mental stress that are part and parcel to an office job. In fact, her first class was called “Yoga for Deskbound Bodies”. Her mother, wanting to support her daughter in her new venture, starting attending some of her classes and trying to convince her friends to do the same. But it wasn’t until she started a separate class for older adults, with modifications for their specific needs, that she was able to open the door of its benefits for them. Her yoga class for seniors, which she teaches at Friendship Village, Heritage Community Center and Osher Life Long Learning, quickly became Mary Beth’s fastest growing offering.

Mary Beth delights in helping people of all ages access the benefits of yoga, but her truest joy lies in helping the survivors of trauma to reconnect to their bodies through its practice. Knowing that this was a deeply sensitive area, and committed to ensuring that she was truly part of the healing process, Mary Beth joined forces with Psychotherapist Dr. Phyllis Florian. Together, these two women created a seven week program called “Moving toward Wholeness” based on Colin Ross, MD’s Trauma Model. The program combines aspects of group therapy with yoga postures, breath work and mindfulness to help women reconnect with their bodies after trauma.

Mary Beth is also a trained facilitator of a program called Trauma Informed Mind Body program that was developed by Yoga Hope (yhtimbo.org). TIMBo is a program, designed specifically to empower women to feel safe in their bodies, increase their self-awareness and self-compassion and build resiliency. Both “Moving toward Wholeness and TIMBo focus on how past trauma affects people in the present rather than focusing on the trauma itself. They use breath and movement to reduce the intensity of emotional reactions and make it safe to feel feelings without being overwhelmed by them. Mary Beth shares that “the beauty of combining traditional psychotherapy with yoga is the mind body connection which is critical to healing because trauma doesn’t happen just in the mind, it happens to the body as well”.

Mary Beth moved around a bit in her youth, but settled down in Kalamazoo when she was in her teens and considers it her hometown. She loves that fact that her twenty-one year old son went to school with many of the children of her former classmates (and the grandchildren of her mother’s childhood friends). Not too long ago, she moved in with her mother after the sale of her house. The original plan was to build and move into her own condo, but inter-generational living agreed with both mother and daughter so Mary Beth stayed. She loves living with her mother and near the people she loves, including her son and her sister’s family.

For more information about any of Mary Beth’s classes, including the 9 week TIMBo class that begins on October 19, contact her at marybeth@mbtyoga.com or visit her website at www.mbtyoga.com

Erica Shier is a married mother of four who loves reading, scrapbooking & thrift stores. When she’s not driving her small pack of children around, she spends her time volunteering, writing & trying to keep on top of the laundry.

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