Q: What is your history with yoga and where did your journey begin?
M: My yoga journey began in South Africa while studying abroad my sophomore year of college. I remember feeling anxious and a bit homesick when someone from my trip showed me a few simple yogic stretches. I was so impressed by the immediate relief I felt, when I returned to the U.S. I immediately signed up for classes. The first instructor I had by no coincidence was a man of African descent named Temitope. Temitope taught me that yoga was more than the physical postures, but it was about a feeling of extraordinary presence, awareness, rhythm, and consciousness.
I: I was introduced to yoga in high school but after a few classes, it didn’t really stick with me. It wasn’t until 2019 when my cousin, Marley, gave me a better introduction to the practice at one of her yoga classes. I was thrilled to learn and understand that yoga can be practiced to different types of music and sometimes it’s all about the teacher you have.
Q: Tell us about Walk Good LA and your involvement with the organization.
M: WalkGood LA is our family non-profit organization that brings people from all walks of life together to heal in solidarity through the arts, health, and wellness. My cousin Etienne founded WalkGood LA during the 2020 uprising of Black Lives Matter. While everyone was chanting “I Can’t Breathe” in the streets, we were creating “BreatheGood” in the park which is a 1-Hour Yoga flow led by me, the Director of Health & Wellness of WalkGood LA. We now have multiple community activations around Los Angeles such as “RunGood” our weekly 5k around mid-city, “HikeGood” our monthly group hike club, “FightGood” community self-defense lessons, and “PaintGood” a paint and meditate series led by art visionary, Ron Bass. You can keep up with everything WalkGood by following us on Instagram @WalkGoodLA.
I: Walkgood LA started as a 10 week protest in 2020 in response to the murder of Ahmaud Arbury, an unarmed black man who was shot and killed for jogging in his neighborhood. After 10 weeks, my brother and our President, Etienne Maurice, decided that we must not just fight together, but we must heal together, so we started Breathegood. It is a 1 hour vinyasa flow, in the park, led by my cousin and our Director of Health & Wellness, Marley Ralph. What started as 20 people in the park doing yoga has now grown to nearly 200 people in the park. We have expanded our healing activities over the past 2 years and now we have Rungood, Paintgood, Hikegood and more.
I am the Vice-president of WalkgoodLA, which requires me to handle the operations of the non-profit along with being the creative director of our clothing line, @WalkgoodWear.
Q: Do you have a mantra you live by? Any new mantras of the moment?
M: One mantra that I love is “I have everything I need.” I got it from a song by Trevor Hall. When I feel anxious and out of control I repeat it over and over. It brings me back to a state of gratitude and simplicity.
I: My mother always told me “life is all about choices” and it is the quote that I have tattooed on my back. It’s somewhat crazy to have that quote inked permanently on my body, but it’s my reminder that forces me to remember that I have options and that I hold the power in making the right choices for myself.
Q: How does yoga influence your daily life?
M: Yoga is my daily life. I practice yoga in the way I treat myself and others. The physical practice also known as ‘asanas’ help me release locked up traumas in the body. While the philosophical practice offers me a deeper understanding of my spirit and the material world around me.
I: Yoga calms my spirit. Anytime I feel like I need a release, clarity, or just a simple breather, I always pull out my mat. My mat is my safe place. I come to my mat, for me , and for me only. My daily yoga practice has allowed me to think about how I view myself, rather than how others choose to view me.
Q: Do you have a morning routine? If so, share with us what works best for you.
M: I wake up, make a cup of tea and flow through a quick sun salutation. Then I take my dog for a walk around the block where I normally reflect and dream out loud.
I: Every morning, I pray, then I speak out loud or write down 3 things I am grateful for. Afterwards, I write down an affirmation that will guide me throughout my day. This allows me to remain in a state of gratitude and remind myself that everything in life can be taken away instantly, so be grateful!
Q: What is your favorite way to decompress?
M: My favorite way to decompress is to light incense & candles. I make sure to make my home super cozy with plush pillows and soft blankets. There’s nothing like curling up on the couch with my dog and my boyfriend for a night of popcorn and Netflix.
I: I love music, journaling, aromatherapy, and sunsets. I love burning some incense or candles, while listening to some lo-fi , old school, reggae, dancehall, or afro beats music. Nothing speaks to my heart the way the sunset does. It’s my favorite place to see the sun smile.
Q: Favorite yoga flow playlist?
M: Honestly, just follow me on Spotify @MarleyRalph and all of my favorite yoga playlists are there… thank me later ;)
I: Anything that is curated by @namastaemareyrae is my favorite, but I love a good playlist that includes some Erykah Badu, Bob Marley, and Jhene Aiko.
Q: How do you practice self-love and self-acceptance?
M: Every day is different, so I always like to start with patience and compassion for myself. Then, I ask myself “How would you want to be treated if you were someone you loved and looked up to?” Then I just take it from there. I buy myself flowers, take myself on dates, and I learn to love my quirks.
I: Honestly, every time I leave the house to begin my day, I look in the mirror and say
“ you are loved, valued, and appreciated”. It allows me to face the day with a care-free attitude, reminding myself that today, I will show up for me.
Q: How do you align your mind, body, and spirit?
M: I make playlists and sequences for yoga classes. I show up for my friends and family. I make tea, I create, and I take time to talk to myself out loud.
I: Running and yoga are the two activities that allow me to connect to my mind, body, and spirit. When I am running and flowing, I feel a sense of clarity vibrating throughout my body. I feel closer to God. My mind is able to receive vision and transparency with myself.
Q: Current favorite recipe?
M: Avocado Toast! I use Sourdough bread, ripe avocados, sprinkle some Lawry’s Season Salt, lemon-pepper seasoning, and cayenne pepper on top. Then, I usually add an egg, some broccoli sprouts, and a drizzle of chili pepper sesame oil from Trader Joes, but remember a little goes a long way! *Chef’s kiss*
I: I love a good quinoa bowl. All you need are some peppers, onion , avocado , sweet corn, warm quinoa ofcourse, along with your preferred seasoning. Lastly, if you feel for some sweetness, I love to add some cranberries on top. Check out my Tik Tok @ivycoco for the video ;).
Q: What does being a Spiritual Gangster mean to you?
M: Being a Spiritual Gangster means to me what Sri Swami Satchidananda must have meant when he said to “keep your heart on God and your head in the world,” in ‘The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.’ Being a spiritual gangster is knowing how to rely on God and everything else come and go as it pleases. It is staying focused on what makes you feel good and learning how to trust that there is a brighter day when things get sad.
I: Being a spiritual gangster is always reminding yourself that authenticity will always be in style. Showing up into spaces and places as your true and authentic self will never stop trending because you have to be real to relate.
Q: What is your favorite piece from Spiritual Gangster that helps you move with comfort and confidence?
M: Since my name is Namaste Marley Rae, my favorite piece would have to be the Namaste Pull Over. It’s super cute and cozy.
I: I love the Peyton Zip Hoodie. I love being able to just throw on a hoodie that feels like a big hug.