Every younger sibling likes to do what their older brother or sister is doing. They will walk, talk and in Maura Roth-Gormley’s case, do yoga like them. When Roth-Gormley was 11, her older sister was in a teenage yoga program. Even though she wasn’t quite old enough, Roth-Gormley followed in her sister’s footsteps and joined the class.

“Eventually my sister and her friends stopped going,” said Roth-Gormley. “For a few months the class was just me and the teacher. That teacher had a big heart and continued teaching the class just for me, which left a huge impression on me at a young age. Needless to say, it got me hooked for life.”

That passion Roth-Gormley found at such a young age drove her to a much more dedicated practice. She slowly realized that teaching yoga was her next endeavor and pursued her 200-hour training.

“By the time I got my certification, I had over 10 years of experience and four years of practice teaching under my belt,” said Roth-Gormley. “It felt like a natural step to complete my 200-hour training at that point, even though I was one of the younger ones in my class.”

Roth-Gormley currently teaches and works as the general manager at Baltimore Yoga Village in Baltimore, Maryland. Over the years of teaching and practicing, she has learned one valuable lesson: It’s OK to be yourself.

“A mentor told me when I first started teaching that when in doubt, be genuine and be yourself,” said Roth-Gormley. “Students feel an intuitive pull toward teachers who are authentic. Also, it’s a lot less work in the long run to be yourself than to try to be someone else.”

Roth-Gormley finds that she is most herself when she is working to increase access to free and low-cost public yoga. During the summer months, she teaches free weekly yoga classes in public parks organized by community organizations and non-profits.

“It would be amazing to see these classes expand to fill every park in every city so that everyone has access to the benefits of yoga,” said Roth-Gormley. “Watching students grow and open and be in community with each other is where I find the most joy while teaching. It is like sharing a delicious and bottomless meal with people I love.”