Hi Melanie! Thanks so much for being open to share about your yoga journey. Can you start off with sharing how yoga came into your life?
The first time yoga came into my life was about 8 years ago. A friend asked me to go, I went. I remember feeling curious. Soon after I moved to California where there were many opportunities to practice, so I would go when someone would invite me. The initial feeling of calm and quiet was a feeling that was a little foreign to me, so this intrigued and scared me at the same time! Meditation was something I started practicing and it seemed like yoga was directly connected to meditation, I later learned that yoga was preparing us for that stillness.
You and I met as neighbors. And now you live all the way in New York! I think one of our first yoga experiences together was the restorative yoga series that I host in the fall. How was the restorative yoga practice for you and how did it impact your life?
Yes, the restorative yoga series at your home studio was the first time we practiced together and where I truly fell in love with yoga. The gentleness & intuitive instruction given helped me feel safe and welcome. For a while I was very fearful that yoga was not for me. I didn't consider myself flexible or prepared to practice. By showing up every week, one week at a time I felt the benefits quickly. I'd practically float home and sleep like a child. The bond that I formed with you has had tremendous impact on my life. I feel more confident, less competitive, and much healthier.
I know you go to classes out in New York. Are you also doing a home practice? If so, how’s it going?
Classes in NY have been wonderful. I now practice mostly in the morning, where in CA I was practicing in the evening. My home practice consists of brief poses throughout the day(s). It's almost second nature now to do a pose, whether its in the kitchen or the backyard. I love that a mat is not always necessary! I tend to sit and meditate rather than a full practice at home. Being with a group really helps me to focus and feel a part of the community.
Your main gig is being an artist- so awesome! Can you share a little about your relationship between yoga and art?
Yoga and Art have been the two practices that I believe are saving my life from poor choices! What I mean by that is, I've been searching for something, something that helps me let go. My best friend Marc, now husband created an art studio for me the first year we met. It was my birthday and he was wondering when I was going to start taking my painting serious. I didn't know what was going to happen next. I walked into his "mud room" and there were supplies and space to paint. It was truly the kindest gesture any human has ever done for me. With that said, when you, Renee asked me to join you for an Art & Asana Workshop I was ready. Ready to say yes, ready to show up. Two things I had been running from. Yoga has allowed me to connect with myself and others in a way that brings me to tears when I think about it. I'd been scared for a long time, scared to let myself be seen. Afraid of what you might think of me. I don't feel that way anymore. Yoga and art are powerful tools for living.
We led a couple of Art & Asana workshops together in San Diego, which were super fun! And now you are continuing the Art & Asana classes on the east coast. What inspires you to keep teaching art with yoga?
What inspires me to keep making art including leading more Art & Asana Worshops is the encouragement that you have given me and the love that you & students have shared with me. Something deep opens up during a yoga practice. When I practice yoga and meditation I see colors, sometimes very creative ideas come to mind. I am actually able to hold on to those thoughts and carry them into the studio. For instance, one time during yoga I started thinking about yellow paint and how that may affect sticks of wood from my yard. I went home that afternoon and started painting sticks, some yellow and some blue. They are now part of the 'land art' at our home. Of course the feedback I receive from folks who attend my workshops allows me to decide how to lead them to their next creative project and what I may change for the next time.
The last time we saw each other was on the Om for the Holidays retreat in Mexico. How did that experience impact your yoga, art and life?
OM for the Holidays!!!! That was one of the most magical experiences of my life. Saying YES and showing up to that was incredible!
The pace of that retreat was lovely, I have tried to carry that with me in my daily living. Rushing around is a thing of the past! My mind tends to race a bit so I take time to sit and think of the water, the air, my breath. These are things I learn through yoga. Your voice is always with me. "Enjoy your savasana." Your encouraging instruction and constant reminder to make time and space for practice. Oh and I remember asking you one time if I could do yoga twice in one day, you said "Never too much yoga, Melanie!" I love that!
And lastly, what’s your favorite yoga pose and why?
Isn't everyone's favorite pose child's pose? :) Actually, I love warrior 3! I just started being able to do that pose, I feel light and strong at the same time.