Where are you from originally?
— Ringgold, GA
How long have you lived in Chattanooga?
— 1 year
Tell us about your childhood:
— I grew up in a strictly conservative Southern Baptist household filled with love and support for the behaviors of a conventional little girl. I often felt like I disappointed my parents because of my eagerness to explore other ideas outside of Christianity, as well as my pursuit of asking questions and challenging the reality that was set up for me within the context of our religion. I was drawn to art, music, and theatre as an outlet for my creativity, and I was always involved in some sort of sport (primarily soccer and cheerleading/dance). Despite being active, I was always teased for being fat as a child (I hit puberty at a very young age, and my body developed a few years before all of the other girls). I remember a time in middle school when a friend told me that “the popular girls” were mocking my jeans size to the “popular boys” as an act of downright cruelty. Even though I conquered my school by becoming the president of every single club we offered, I still felt isolated and alone outside of the few close friends I cherished. I was never interested in the mundane politics of the cafeteria, but rather the events happening in our world and the billions of people outside of Ringgold that could reveal to me what I felt like I was missing.
“Hello Kitty Travels the World” was my favorite book as a child, and I would spend hours tracing and coloring the images of her traversing the globe, suitcase and passport in hand. I daydreamed of skyscrapers, airplanes, vast deserts, and roaring oceans. No one in my family had ever traveled, so this was always written off as strange interest of mine. It wasn’t until I left Ringgold that I was able to fully explore the unknown that had always enticed me. Now having traveled to over 25 countries and having lived in South America and the Middle East, it’s amazing to consider how connected we are to the paths laid out by our inner child…
Do you have a nick name?
— The name “McKenzie” has yielded an insane variety of nicknames in the past, but I prefer “McKenzie” in its fullest, three-syllable form (however I do love it when Kaylee Frano calls me “Kenz”).
When were you introduced to Yoga?
— I was introduced to yoga several years ago while living outside of New York City. I craved practicing it regularly, but I did not understand the importance of investing in self-care the way that I do now.
As far as barre goes, I danced for years and I connect deeply to the poses and postures within this intense form of exercise.
How do yoga and the community play a role in your life?
— Yoga and barre have both transformed my life in a multitude of ways, and I feel that it’s my dharma to share these teachings and philosophies with as many people as I possibly can, with openness, honesty, and acceptance regardless of one’s journey. I am my own greatest competitor, so yoga and barre give me the opportunity to challenge myself beyond the confines of my mind, and that is a beautiful meditation in and of itself. I am so blessed to have a husband as a yoga instructor, so my yogic journey leads me off of my mat and into my own marriage and my own inner-self on a daily basis. My connection to a yogic community has yielded more stimulation, kindness, and loyalty than I have ever received from a group of people. It is so important to find those who are constantly dedicated to promoting your Highest Self, and that is exactly what I have discovered through my involvement in the Peace.Strength.Yoga community.
What pose do you love the most and why?
— In yoga, my favorite pose is the full variation of Vasisthasana (Side Plank pose combined with Hand-To-Big-Toe-pose). This pose not only proves my strength to myself (even on days when I’m not honoring that strength), but it also allows me to open my heart chakra in a way that centers and grounds me on a profound level. I feel such a simultaneous connection to the earth, to my body, and to our shared collective consciousness when I am in this pose.
— In barre, my favorite pose is fold-over standing glute work. I get such a rush when I see the sweat drip off the tip of my nose onto my mat! I also love the feeling of stability and strength my body exudes while I am holding myself in this challenging position.
What is your favorite quote?
— “All we are is the result of what we have thought.” – Buddha.