Mary Catherine Starr ’07 poised (literally) for greatness
For most people, yoga is a relaxing hobby. For Mary Catherine Starr ’07, it’s a full-time job—and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Starr, who acts as a studio director for Tranquil Space studio in Arlington, Va., was listed in The Washingtonian as one of eight yoga bloggers to know in Washington earlier this year.
“I teach group classes at my studio, to private clients, corporate clients and at special events, and I have learned a lot about how to run a small business/yoga studio—while still having the time to blog, paint and pursue my other interests,” Starr says. “I love making my own schedule, working for myself, helping and teaching people, and being able to delve into so many different areas of interest on a daily basis.”
Starr began working at the yoga studio after the realization that she wasn’t cut out for a traditional nine to five job.
“After working a couple different types of ‘office jobs’ after graduating from Centre, I knew that sitting at a desk all day, staring at a computer, wasn’t for me,” she says. “However, as I began to realize that a traditional job wasn’t a good fit for my personality, my love for yoga and painting continued to grow. With a lot of support from family and boyfriend—now fiancée—Ben Vaneria ’05, I decided to take the plunge in order to pursue my passions.
“After graduating from my Yoga Teacher Training—which was a very transformative experience—I knew that I wouldn’t be happy if I didn’t give teaching yoga full-time a real try,” Starr continues. “So I quit my full-time job, created my website and blog, and started auditioning for teaching jobs. In a city like Washington, D.C., where there is a very vibrant yoga community, there have been more opportunities than I ever could have imagined.”
Starr’s creative talents go beyond the art of yoga: she also recently received attention for one of her many paintings in another story by The Washingtonian.
When it comes to painting, motivation is easy to come by for Starr.
“For the most part, my artwork is inspired by my daily life. Especially the piece that was featured in the Washingtonian and all of my more recent yoga pose paintings—they’re inspired by what I’m surrounded by on a daily basis, and these days, that’s obviously yoga,” Starr says. “I also am very inspired by color and shape, and often, if I’m drawn to something due to its aesthetic qualities, I’ll want to paint it.”
Starr credits Centre classes and professors for helping her realize her artistic abilities.
“Although I’ve always been very creative—some of my fondest memories from childhood are of spending hours on end drawing or painting at my little children’s art table—I don’t think I really felt comfortable calling myself an artist until my senior year at Centre,” she says. “I credit Sheldon Tapley and the entire art department for giving me the confidence, tools and support to encourage me to continue painting after graduating. If I didn’t have the drive to paint and create more, I’m not sure I would have had the confidence to take the plunge and start teaching yoga as my full-time job.”
Beyond the encouragement to continue painting, Starr also says that Centre gave her the tools necessary to chase her dreams and work towards her goals.
“I credit my experience at Centre for giving me the confidence to devote time and energy to creative endeavors and to my passions, instead of just pushing me towards a specific career path,” Starr says. “I think liberal arts schools like Centre teach their students that they don’t have to take the traditional path, but instead, should study what they love and become a well-rounded person, and that if you do so, you can succeed in any path you decide to take.”
As for leaving the corporate sector to be a yoga studio director, Starr has no regrets.
“Working for yourself is the way to go!” Starr says. “I always encourage anyone who is thinking about doing it to take the plunge—if you’re driven and love what you do, things seem to work out.
“No two days are the same and I truly love every aspect of my job(s). I feel so lucky to be able to say that,” she continues. “But most importantly, my students are truly amazing and the relationships that I build at work are very rewarding. Overall, the people that I meet and get to work with are what I enjoy most about what I do.”