Meet Michelle, one of our teachers at Yoga District! Learn how yoga transformed her life, and see how she makes online yoga classes a welcoming, personal space for students.
“When we practice this awareness…we unveil the wisdom of our bodies and discover our authentic selves.” Check out Michelle’s current class offerings below and sign up here!
Monday, 7:30 AM: Yoga Basics and Yin Stretching @ online
Tuesday, 8:00 PM: Yin Yoga @ online
Wednesday, 11:00 AM: Yoga for Shoulders and Hips @ online
Thursday, 7:15 PM: Yin Yoga @ online
Saturday, 10:00 AM: Flow 1-2 with Yin @ online
Sign up here to join Michelle on 10/25 for her half day retreat Embodied Life: Connecting the Physical, Mental and Emotional @ Home
The Welcoming Power of Awareness and Individuality
My teacher says, “If you have seen one body, then you have seen one body.” It is such a simple yet profound concept. I know yoga can be intimidating, so I try to make students feel welcomed by inviting them to show up exactly as they are. If you had a good day or a bad day, if you are an advanced practitioner or a beginner then just showing up is 90% of the effort! As a Yin teacher, I encourage students to focus their awareness on what feels right and not what a pose is “supposed” to look like.
My classes are not designed to achieve the perfect pose but rather an invitation to explore and become aware of our bodies. Through using a combination of breath, postures, and mindfulness, we learn how we store tension in our bodies. Then we learn how we can release stagnant energy to feel more fluid, relaxed, and alive. When we practice this kind of awareness, we transform not only our relationship with yoga but also our relationship with our bodies. This is truly how we unveil the inherent wisdom of our bodies and discover our authentic selves.
Top Three Lessons Yoga Has Taught Me
Being Embodied: Yoga helped connect me to my body in ways I never imagined. Prior to practicing yoga, I had no body awareness. I never exercised, nor did I have a physical routine. Yoga gave me a strong understanding of how I hold tension and how to release it.
Energetic Awareness: When I refer to energy, I mean the subtle sensations that are always present but often unnoticed. The various practices of yoga (asana, meditation, breathwork, etc.) helped me recognize energetic sensations (1). I use them as tools to reprogram my old behavioral patterns. For example, I grew up in New York City, so my nervous system defaults to fight-mode. Yoga taught me how to recognize this energy. For me, it is usually tightness in my belly, sweaty palms, heart racing, and overpowering thoughts. Now, I know how to diffuse it before it dictates my actions. We cannot control what happens but we can control our responses. Energy is in everything, and yoga taught me how to transform it.
Slowing Down: Having had a demanding career and life, I didn’t know how to slow down.My life was a constant rush. I sought distractions and kept busy with things that didn’t matter. Yoga helped me find the beauty and simplicity in slowing down. It taught me to appreciate the things that truly matter in our lives: breath, nature, love, and gratitude. I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s so real…even for this Brooklyn girl!
Teaching Yoga Online
Teaching Yin Yoga means I design practices for people looking to decompress and release tension. I also get to witness the powerful ways people shift their energy into something much lighter. It’s quite impressive and inspiring. Now that we are online, I love that students have the convenience of practicing in their homes! In the mornings, they can roll out of bed and onto the mat. For evening classes, students can transition right from savasana to sleep. Most of all, I love that students can take up as much space as they want.
Another beauty of taking class online is being able to practice without being distracted by other students. In a way, practicing alone can be more private and intimate. I encourage students to keep their cameras on so I can offer personal modifications, but I want students to choose for themselves. I want to empower them to make the practice their own.
Life as a Yoga Pose
If my life were a yoga pose, it would absolutely be Anahatasana, Heart Melting Pose (2). It’s a deep heart opener that connects you to the earth. Anahatasana calls upon yin and yang energies, engaging from your feet to your seat and softening the body all the way to the crown of the head. This pose can be challenging to enter but once I am there it is incredibly nurturing, grounding, and soothing.
The Yoga District 200 and 500 hour teacher training certification programs, registered by the Yoga Alliance are unique in their emphasis on diversity of teaching styles studied, personal attention, and trauma sensitive yoga. It's no coincidence that Yoga District is regularly voted the leading studio in the nation's capital, and that most of its classes are taught by graduates of its training program. As a full time yoga school, small group trainings are led up to eight times a year by a dedicated faculty including Jasmine Chehrazi, contributor to the Harvard Karma Yoga Project teacher training, teacher training faculty at George Washington University, Yoga Alliance Standards Committee Advisory Board Member, Yoga Activist Founder, and Yoga Service Council Advisory Board Member. So take your practice and community involvement to the next level by joining a training. There's a reason why our graduates call the training "transformative."
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