A yoga teacher, integrative health coach, wellness instructor, blog writer, and special cookie recipe creator, Michelle owes her successes and passion for life to the challenges she faced in her early 20s. A 10-year cancer survivor of Hodgkin's lymphoma has truly shaped Michelle to become the person she is today. After facing challenges with health at an early age, Michelle realized that she needed to take control of her lifestyle and create a healthy balance of the mind and body. So she packed her shit, got on a flight and completed her first 200 hrs in 2011 from Nosara Yoga Institute, in Costa Rica.
Michelle believes that everyone can do yoga no matter age, gender, height, weight, illness, that's the beauty of the practice. It's not the elite poses or handstands that make you a yogi; it's the warmth that fills your body when you find that the peace you've been looking. Yoga is a practice for people to come together with the same intention--to honor there body and relax, have fun and enjoy the journey.
Q: What got you into yoga?
A: When I was sick with cancer, living in my family home, my aunt used to come home looking so radiant and empowered after her Yoga classes. I got curious and asked her questions about it. She brought me to my first class and I felt like GI Jane; Bald and fucking strong. But really, actually, a day fresh out of chemo.
Q: How did you know you wanted to teach yoga?
A: I continued to practice throughout my illness and my whole life changed. I became more calm and felt stronger in my body. Now, I literally feel it keeps me alive; the breath, the calmness, the movement. I am naturally high strung and without it my anxiety goes haywire. I also love being able to bring light to peoples lives, build their confidence, and watch them grow. It is the most rewarding thing on earth.
Q: #1 thing you learned about yourself through deciding to follow this career path?
A: I think that we glamorize spiritual awakening and forget to touch that the journey is one of patience and depth. The only thing we are promised is change. How we adapt to that is our choice. I use to be firm and not malleable. I still have parts of that in me. I found in choosing to pursue yoga, I had no choice but to accept and acknowledge who and what I really am. And in my lowest of lows fix myself because there is no other way to the surface with out a solid foundation. Trust me I’m newly building this house and floor plans keep changing. And I’m ok with that time and process to get there. We have to start giving ourselves time to adapt and evolve into who we’re becoming.
Q: What is the yoga community really like?
A: I feel like this can be a loaded question lol. I’ve learned that you get to choose your tribe and vibe. Some are vegan, some sweat, some take vow of silence, some chant, some workout to rap, some chill- there’s no right or wrong. Try them all. Date to see what feels secure to you. The yoga community is what you chose it to be. There is truly a home for everyone and every type of human soul. Like any spiritual practice it evolves into many different things.
Q: One piece of advice for your 21 year old self?
A: Slow down. You will make it to 30. At 21 I thought I was ancient, I wanted to live as much as life as possible. Life gives you more than you expected. Breathe, slow down, stop running, you will be okay. This isn't your end girl. Get to a fucking yoga class.
Q: How do you relax at the end of the day?
A: Many different ways depending on the day, the amount of classes I taught, as well as the season. No matter what, I shower or jump in ocean to wash off the day. Then, I love cooking - whether it be a soup, smoothie, or fun dinner with friends or family. In the summer I ride up to beach to see waves and catch a sunset. Usually involves some weed:)
Q: What was your first experience with cannabis?
A: It was a blast… I couldn't tell if I was saying my thoughts out loud or to myself… I still sometimes don’t. Weed saved me during cancer for pain management, made me laugh through it, and helped me avoid pumping my body with even more big Pharma chemicals.
Q: Do you have a mantra? If so, what is it?
A: Don’t give up don't ever give up. Life gets hard but at the same time it is so fucking amazing and you have to live all of its emotions. We have to work through those hard times in order to truly understand the feeling of gratitude.
Q: Is it important to be in touch with your mood while teaching yoga?
A: Yes, you have to be able to connect to yourself in order to disconnect from what ever crap you allow in your mind. Teaching is not about you. So check yourself at the door. It is also important to be in touch with the mood in the room. I watch the first three minutes in every practice and observe how the students behave, how the breathe, how they move. Then I decide how to lead.
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