The Story of Maggie - our founder
Maggie McClain, founder of The TreeHouse Community and FIFIYS shed what she called her "earth suit," in February of 2003. Maggie had experienced pancreatic cancer for about ten months prior to her death. During that time she said that it was her job to teach people how to die with grace. So Maggie taught people how to die. She had been teaching her whole life.
Maggie started teaching elementary school and focused on teaching children how to read. She loved literature and stories and taught generations of children to read and created a love of learning in them. She went on to teach college students. Starting as an English professor she continued to teach literature and promote a love of learning. She taught athletes how to better their performance and she taught stress management. She taught in the College of Education and taught students how to teach. She brought out the best in students and taught them to become teachers and how to inspire a love of learning in their students.
Finally Maggie left USF and traditional educational processes. Maggie created the TreeHouse Community and continued to teach. She taught yoga students. She created gentle restorative classes and invited women who were experiencing breast cancer or other significant physical challenges to come and be part of these classes. She taught basic yoga classes to people who had never taken yoga and she taught flowing classes to more experienced students. And Maggie, ever the teacher, began teaching others how to teach yoga. She created the Florida Institute for Integrated Yoga Studies (FIFIYS) a Yoga Alliance credentialed program. This was the first yoga school in the area providing certification to teachers in 250 and 500-hour programs. The FIFIYS teacher-training program brings world recognized teachers of yoga to Tampa. Students have the opportunity to deepen their personal practices, understanding of teaching and to be taught by some of the best teachers in the world.
There are many graduates of the FIFIYS program. Some are local and have created schools and centers in Tampa and some are in other parts of the country and continue to practice the teachings of yoga individually and in classes and centers. And here is the gift of a teacher that Maggie knew, what is taught continues, even when the teacher is no longer here. Maggie's gifts of the teacher-training program and the gifts of what students have learned in class continue.
When Maggie opened her home and the TreeHouse Community was born, she visioned beyond the yoga studio. The TreeHouse is a spiritual center that honors all spiritual traditions and paths. The Center hosts healing circles, Full Moon Circles, spirituality classes, and created a healing community.
Maggie and friends celebrated the full moon each month. The TreeHouse Full Moon Circle is the oldest circle in Tampa. Each month women come together to celebrate the rhythms and rites of being born female. Women gather, are affirmed and heal. The Healing Partners and healing circles were created to honor what exists in the present moment of each person's health and to honor the need for healing in the world. Healing circles are places where people in all states of ease and disease are welcomed and supported in their processes. Spirituality classes are taught based on universal principles and focus on helping each student find her truth and to live in the present moment.
In this time, Maggie had a full life with her own children, a grandson, her friends, and her own interests. She traveled, laughed, learned and stayed connected to old and new friends. At Maggie's Memorable Memorial, people shared stories about her. They all focused on what Maggie had taught them or how she had created a sense of play, laughter or exploration. Maggie taught many lessons to each person she touched. To each person she was someone different, sometimes a friend, a sister, a mother and always a teacher. She taught the gifts of breath, connection to others, self-acceptance, movement, and the fullness of being human- all the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Maggie died surrounded by family. Friends and students had been to see her throughout the weekend she was dying to say goodbye and spend a few more minutes with her. She died peacefully in her beautiful TreeHouse, overlooking the river and gardens, and she died with grace.
The gifts and the teachings of the TreeHouse Community and FIFIYS continue. All the classes and programs continue. The Healing Circles, Full Moon Circles, yoga classes and FIFIYS programs continue and are available to everyone.
The yoga and healing communities are better because of the teachings of Maggie McClain. The impact of her work will continue as the work of all teachers continue- like a stone thrown into a pond, the ripples extending outward and on and on….
Maggie traditionally closed her classes with this Metta Meditation and blessing that continues to embody her work:
May you be filled with loving-kindness.
May you be well.
May you be peaceful and at ease.
May you be happy.
Last Updated: October 2, 2009