Ask an expert: Manistee County yoga instructor shares how to start practicing – Manistee News Advocate

MANISTEE COUNTY — What better way to combine the beaches Manistee is known for with activities outdoors than doing yoga at the beach?

To help people who are new to yoga, or who are seeking somewhere to do yoga locally, the News Advocate reached out to yoga teacher Mary Paine, for advice on how to get started and what to do to prepare.

Paine is a 500-hour Yoga Alliance Trained yoga instructor, which includes training in Yoga Nidra and Yin Yoga. She has been teaching group fitness classes for over 23 years including strength, cardio, weights, stability ball, exercise bands, step, mat pilates, water fitness, PiYo, body bar and kettlebell.

Some questions have been edited for clarity and brevity. 

MANISTEE NEWS ADVOCATE: Where do you typically teach and how can people join your sessions?

MARY PAINE: Currently, I teach 10 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Manistee Armory for adults. Tuesday is a Slow Flow Vinyasa class that links breath and movement, and Thursday is Gentle Yoga.

The first Thursday of the month I teach a Yin Yoga style class in which you hold each pose for longer periods of time. It is a very relaxing and meditative practice while deep stretching.

I also teach a 45 minute Yoga Flow Class at  9:30 a.m. Mondays and Wednesdays at Munson Manistee Health and Fitness. Class sizes are limited, so it is recommended to call 231-398-1520 for more information.

Weather depending on some Fridays during the summer, I teach donation-based classes outside at the beach! The funds go to local organizations in and around Manistee. During Covid lockdown our classes raised over $3,000!

Details on the Armory can be found online at, and more information on Mary Paine’s classes can be found at

Mary Paine shows that yoga can also be practiced outdoors during her beach classes.

Mary Paine shows that yoga can also be practiced outdoors during her beach classes.

Submitted photo/Mary Paine

NEWS ADVOCATE: What is your favorite yoga style or practice and what sets it apart from others?

PAINE: Like many people, I started practicing yoga for the stretching benefits.

Since getting certified, I realized yoga gives you so much more than flexibility; it is helpful for stress management, mind body connection, balance and more.

I love all styles of yoga but have come to embrace slowing down with practices like Yin and of course I love Savasana — rest and restore meditation — at the end of class.

NEWS ADVOCATE: What does a person need to get started doing yoga? Do you have any tips for beginners?

PAINE: Yoga is wonderful because you don’t need much, just a yoga mat to start.

But I also suggest a cotton blanket, which you can fold to sit on, cushion your knees when kneeling, or support your joints in other ways. Yoga blocks and yoga straps are great to bring, if you have them.

Some tips for beginners are to wear comfortable clothing you can move in. While practicing yoga, remember to take it slow and breathe, especially if it starts to get challenging. Try to be patient, as results don’t happen in a day. Modify poses for your body and needs, and always respect your body’s limits.

NEWS ADVOCATE: How and when should a person prepare their body and mind for a yoga session?

PAINE: It is best not to eat one to three hours before practicing yoga. Drink water throughout the day to keep well hydrated.

The best way to set yourself up for success is to practice with an open mind and stay positive. Yoga is a lifelong practice and has so much to offer!

NEWS ADVOCATE: Are there any myths or misconceptions people tend to have when first starting out or about yoga in general

PAINE: Many people think you must be flexible to do yoga. Flexibility improvement is just one aspect of yoga. Yoga is for everybody and every body.

Some think it is just for women, but at the Armory I sometimes have over six men in class. All are welcome!

Another misconception is that yoga is just a physical workout. While this can be true, yoga is most beneficial for the mind and breath work.

Mary Paine shows that yoga can also be practiced outdoors.

Mary Paine shows that yoga can also be practiced outdoors.

Submitted photo/Mary Paine

NEWS ADVOCATE: What safety advice would you offer?

PAINE: Always talk to your doctor before beginning a yoga practice. Keep your body safe by starting slow; modify poses and don’t compare yourself to others or what you see on Instagram. It is your practice.

NEWS ADVOCATE: What would you say are the rewards you have seen from practicing yoga?

PAINE: Yoga improves strength, balance and flexibility. It can ease back pain and arthritis and improve heart health. Yoga relaxes you and will help you sleep better. You will always be in a brighter mood after a yoga class! The list is endless.

NEWS ADVOCATE: Is there anything else you’d like to add about yoga or your role?

PAINE: There is no better time to start a yoga practice than now! I am so happy and honored to be teaching yoga and fitness classes in Manistee. I have made many wonderful friends and look forward to every class I teach. Namaste!