Michelle's Yoga Journey
Yoga is a Saving Grace
Yoga has been a saving grace in my life. This ancient practice has served as an anchor through many challenges over the years. It has enabled me to develop a deep relationship with my body, mind and spirit. It is from this place that I teach.
I first began exploring yoga when I was 17. It touched me at a tender time through a small book on yoga my mother gave me shortly before she passed away. I followed the guidelines given and started to feel soft shifts within. I practiced mostly on my own through college, then started with a few teachers.
In 1985, I was fortunate to come upon an evening workshop given by a Kripalu yoga instructor. I was so deeply moved, I took off from my work in physical therapy at the time, and attended a 10 day program at the center. My experiences were so deep that I knew this was what I wanted to pursue and share with others.
While working as a Special Education teacher, I spent much of my summers studying and teaching in programs at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health as well as other yoga and holistic health centers. I have also worked and participated in many outdoor adventures and love sharing yoga on the land. I have studied and trained with many wonderful teachers.
Meeting Rudy Peirce
One of the teachers I met at Kripalu was Rudy. I have been blessed to take instruction from him and to be a teacher assistant in his wonderful programs and trainings many times over the years. One of the greatest things I have learned from Rudy is to slooooow down…to listen to my body…and move from there. His teaching is always a grounding resource for me. I consider him one of the most unconditionally accepting people I know. Together, with his wife Joyce, who is constantly steady and affirming, they create sacred space to serve this Gentle Yogis community with heartfelt, sustaining practices.
Therapeutic Gentle Yoga
In 1997, I sustained injuries from a car accident leaving me with a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, myofascitis and chronic pain. I dealt with spinal injuries and nerve damage. I was not able to hold my head up unsupported for many months and could not sit up unsupported for even longer. After a year and a half, the medical profession had pretty much written me off. After going through a string of doctors, I landed in the office of a wonderful physiatrist who used yoga therapeutically. I had been working with my own practice, and with his guidance and many other wonderful yoga teachers and colleagues, I was able to turn my life around. It took some time, but I remained steady and determined. With the support of yoga, and other holistic modalities, I became pain free and also prevented surgeries from other subsequent injuries.
Bringing Gentle Yoga to Others with Challenging Conditions
I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to develop yoga programs for the MS Society, Cardiac and Mental Health units within hospitals, and those dealing with visual impairments and other challenging conditions. This has been a deeply rewarding part of my path as a yoga teacher and I am continually inspired by my students.
Through my healing path within yoga, I feel I have had to go deeper within my own body and have developed a compassionate understanding of what my students may be experiencing. I love and deeply respect this tradition of yoga and honor the long lineage of its teachers. Through yoga, I feel more alive, integrated and am aware of a deeper joy from within.
Yamas and Niyamas
I love the Yama and Niyama study that the daily Breath Practice community is engaging with now and the guidelines they provide for right living.
My favorite yama is Brahmacharya: moderation of all sense desires. Literally, it translates to mean ‘movement towards the Lord”. I find this yama very freeing. I am able to embrace my beautiful and rich desires and allow them all to point me to the One from Whom they were given.
My favorite niyama is Saucha: purity. Saucha invites me to purify my body, my thoughts and my words. This can carry over into all areas of my life, including my living space, my dietary choices, my health practices and how I think and speak. I strive to create an upward spiral, cultivating saucha through mantra, music, sadhana (spiritual practice), prayer and journaling.
I look forward to teaching a Gentle Yoga Immersion class on September 18, 2021 and hope to see you there.