We first met Mary Tilson during a stay at the Hariharalaya Yoga and Meditation Retreat Center in Cambodia. She was our yoga instructor. Over the course of the week I observed her and I came to admire the way she was able to connect with each member of the group. It’s a skill that separates an average instructor from an effective health and wellness practitioner. I’ve come to know Mary better since our time in Cambodia and I appreciate where that skill comes from now. Mary teaches and lives in a very conscious way; she personally practices what she teaches, living authentically while helping others to thrive.
Mary and I have been eagerly following each other’s respective journeys around the globe since that time. Mary travelled on to India to help educate communities about yoga and meditation and has since taken on the role as Yoga and Wellness Director for Nihiwatu Luxury Wellness Resort, recently named “No1 Hotel in the World” by Travel and Leisure. While she has been a contributor for TFT for some time. I am very excited to announce she is new The Fit Traveller Yoga and Wellness Editor.
Mary will soon fly to the US and Central America to cover the the yoga and wellness scene where she will be reporting for The Fit Traveller and holding her first yoga retreat in Nicaragua.
If there is an event or retreat you would like Mary to attend or someone she should interview in the yoga and wellness space, send an email to email@example.com
Introducing Mary Tilson
Mary, tell us about your personal journey to the mat…
I got it from my mama! Seriously, my mom is an incredible role model both on and off the mat. I used to watch her practice to yoga videos in our living room growing up or any spare minute she could fit in for her personal practice. Later on I fell in love with Power Vinyasa, which, as a teenager more focused on working up a sweat was the perfect gateway drug to hook me into yoga and eventually meditation. Now that I’ve learned to appreciate yoga as a way of life, it’s become much more about the journey off the mat.
How has yoga and meditation changed your life?
My practice has changed everything and nothing at the same time. On one extreme, it moved me from a cubicle in Chicago to a breathtaking hilltop yoga pavilion at Nihiwatu, which I jokingly refer to as my corner office. But the truth is, it just taught me to listen better to the messages that have been there all along, to follow my intuition, and trust that everything will work out and so far it has.
What gets you jumping out of bed in the morning?
Sunrise. It never gets old.
What is your yoga ethos?
Come as you are.
What is something you hope every client takes away from a yoga class with you?
That they are 100% capable of integrating a yoga practice into their life, and hopefully have already gotten a small taste of its benefits.
Describe your ideal setting to do yoga…
Why do you think yoga retreats are important?
Any opportunity to travel and break your regular routine offers a new perspective and encourages you to think more creatively. Adding yoga and meditation to the mix helps you work through tension in your body and mind, and feel better. For me, one of the best parts has always been the connections you develop with like-minded people that will support you moving in a positive direction.
Do you follow a particular nutrition lifestyle?
I am vegetarian and also gave up alcohol several years ago. I’ve learned first and foremost to listen to my body.
You have a retreat coming up soon. Tell us what we can expect from it?
Magic! The schedule offers a mix of yoga (of course), exploring Nicaragua’s Emerald Coast, and creativity workshops put on by Vibe Tribe Creative. One of the greatest parts about going on a retreat is bringing an inspiring group together and that’s what I’m most excited about with this one.
What have been your favourite travel destinations so far and why?
India, of course. I could go on forever. I once heard it described as an “attack of the senses” – the colours, smells, noise – you either love it or you hate it. It really trained me to see the beauty in things (and there’s a lot of it). I felt a lot of personal growth happening there. I also found the contrast with American culture so interesting. Despite that, I’ve made the most amazing connections with the people there.
Cambodia, it was my home for over a year while I was at Hariharalaya Yoga & Meditation Retreat Center and I will always consider the people there my family. The ancient temples of Angkor Wat are some of the most beautiful sites I’ve visited in the world.
Do you have any favourite travel tales?
My best friend and I spent 18-days trekking in the Himalayas in Nepal on the Annapurna Circuit. We crossed through every type of landscape imaginable – think green rolling hills, white sand beaches in between mountain peaks, crossing rivers in the jungle, all the way up to the peaks of the Himalayas which feels like walking in the clouds. It was one of the most enriching experiences on a physical, mental and spiritual level.
What do you have planned for the next year?
I’ve created a pretty ideal schedule of teaching, training and travelling. My first stop will be the Yoga Journal Conference in Colorado and what I’m most excited for, the retreat I will be putting on with Vibe Tribe Creative in Nicaragua.
What are you hoping to bring to The Fit Traveller as our Yoga and wellness editor?
In addition to my own retreat, I’ll be attending events with some of the top Yoga & Wellness professionals around the world, and I want to be able to make that information accessible to more people! I am equally excited about the unknown. Yoga & Wellness encompasses far more than yoga retreats and teacher trainings. I want to be able to offer a more integrated approach to healthy, happy living.