Born and raised right in Portland, Melissa was blessed to receive some amazing training while living in Atlanta and Philadelphia, but she is so glad to be back to the ocean and the gorgeous beauty of Maine. Melissa and her family moved back to Maine in 2011 so her son could run barefoot in the summer and be near family. Yoga has been a truly amazing gift in her life and has given her some of her greatest friends and teachers. When not in the studio she is often at the beach with her son, wandering farmer’s markets, cooking and drinking wine with her husband, or working at their garden seed and supply company in New Gloucester.
1. How did you find your way to yoga?
I was introduced to yoga right here in Portland (at the Yoga Exchange) by a dear friend in 2003, and fell in love immediately. I never considered myself athletic and had begrudgingly played sports my whole life, but then suddenly found this was of moving my body and breath that was incredibly challenging, nuanced, and ever expanding. I was hooked and never looked back. When I first started to practice, I was incredibly stiff and lacked strength but found that with every class I was able to feel a shift in my body both on an energetic and muscular level. The more I practiced, the more I began to see how deep the studentship and practice can go with time and commitment. Even after ten years, I love that there is always more!
2. What is your practice like off the mat? How do you live your yoga?
Living my yoga is a constant practice of effort and surrender—in parenthood, owning a business and managing a staff, in my relationships with my family and friends—it is all about the pulsation of those two forces. My practice has helped me cultivate an understanding of the power our thoughts have over our experience and I am always working towards quieting that inner “monkey mind” that distracts and detracts. Even if that just means pausing for a deep breath. Motherhood especially has been a deep practice of letting go of my expectations and rushed behavior—and yoga has given me some of the best tools to invite patience and equanimity into my relationship with my son.
3. What’s your favorite thing about the Lila yoga community?
Lila feels like home! I love the space, the warmth of the teachers and the students, and the truly open attitude embodied in the faces I see time and time again. It really welcomes all levels of student and I love to see how quickly and sweetly any new faces are welcomed into the community. Each class you can see students meeting each other and old friends joyfully greeting one another, and that is really special.
4. Which pose is your “asana nemesis,” the one that you loathe, but should probably be doing more?
Marichyasana I is absolutely a pose I never practice unless I have to. It feels so constricted and I have a hard time understanding the benefit for my own body, which is definitely a reason to do it more! I am also always happy to skip Navasana (boat pose), ugh!