Q&A with Michelle Weinhofen

1. Whats your yoga story? (how did you get involved, how long have you been practicing, etc.)

I first dabbled in attending a yoga class when I lived in Los Angeles about 8 years ago. I wish I could be a fly on the wall and see what my practice was like because I probably didn’t even know how to do warrior 2 at the time. I did find an amazing teacher however, who lent his time in showing me how to do the poses properly and I became somewhat of a regular in his classes for a few months.

The practice didn’t stick for me at the time for a plethora of reasons, but fast forward about 4 years later and I found myself inside a yoga studio again as I was training to run my first half marathon. I was horrible at stretching before or after a run and I found my body getting extremely tight, especially my hips and hamstrings which is the number two places to tighten as a runner. I couldn’t fold forward very well and my fingertips only barely passed my knee caps as I tried to reach for the floor.

I soon became addicted and my body started to radically open up over the next few months. I decided to allow running to be a thing of the past, and I chose to dedicate my “fitness” time to being only yoga practice. I knew within the first few months that I found this new life parter in yoga’s teachings and I wanted to get certified to teach but I waited one whole year from that point until I went away to get certified to teach through YogaWorks.

I’ve continued to develop all facets of my yoga practice since I’ve began – getting deeper into not only my body, but my meditation practice, awareness of my subtle body and learning about healing arts that partner well with yoga. I’ve now been practicing yoga for about 4 years consistently and teaching for about 1 and a half.

2. What’s your favorite song to practice to, or favorite playlist?

It depends on what kind of practice I’m doing… but for vinyasa flow style practices, I love going extremely slow so I choose music that reflects that. Artists like alt-J, Gem Club, Gidge, Phoria, and Angus and Julia Stone are conducive to my style and the way I like to flow or find stillness.

3. What is something you’ve learned from yoga that resonates with you the most?

It’s funny because as I thought about what my answer would be to this, I realized that everything I’ve learned through the physical asana practice of yoga has translated into a philosophical or ethical lesson and that is what I take away from the mat. Getting into the body on a physically level opens one up so much to such transformation and awareness when properly harnessed.. or even sometimes by accident.

All of the lessons I’ve learned have been immeasurable but one that sticks out at this point in time would be the art in finding stillness to connect to the deeper layers of the self – the true self, the subtle body, how the emotional body, physical body, and energetic body all tie into and have influence on one another. Also, within that, learning how to using the breath to move prana or life force energy (Michelle is a Master Reiki Energy Healer) in order to irrigate the body to rid it of energetic and emotional tension which can manifest itself as physical tension.

4. What is your most memorable yoga experience?

Two moments stick out the most for me: First being my whole teacher training experience because it was amazing and beautiful in every way – the growth that happened, the friends I made, and the opening I created within myself. I went away and did an intensive format training on the big island of Hawaii. I changed so much from my time there in such a great way and having the intensive style format allowed me to dig really deep without too many external distractions and the normal day to day stuff that comes with being at home while studying.

My second most memorable experience would be the first time I taught a proper class. I started teaching in Melbourne, Australia actually at a studio a girl from my teacher training was teaching at. The studio was located upstairs from the lobby and there were 40 students in that class which was big for that studio space. I remember walking up the stairs knowing that my teaching began as I made my way up to the studio. My heart was racing and I was so nervous, but once I opened up my mouth, the words began to flow and it almost felt like a certain right of passage I had to leap into in order to begin this new chapter (as a teacher) in my life.

5. What destination is next on your travel list and why?

I havent explored much of Asia and I really want to visit India being that it is the home of yoga. I’m not sure when I’ll make my way there but it is definitely high on my to do list. I also want to visit Japan and Thailand because I fell in love with Asian art history as I studied that in college and have so many temples and art pieces I would like to see in person. I love immersing myself into new cultures that are so different to where I live. Traveling has fed my soul in such a lovely way.

6. If you could interview anyone who would it be and why?

I would love to sit down and chat with Ram Dass (Richard Alpert). He has been somewhat of a spiritual guide for me though his recorded teachings that are showcased on the Here and Now Podcasts. I would love to listen to him talk and absorb his insight.

7. If you were on a deserted island, what 3 items would you bring and why?

Coconut oil because you can use it for everything and my skin is often more dry than moisturized, one of the dresses I got from a market in Djibouti because it is the perfect coverup and would provide some clothing and protection from the sun, a continuous magical flowing tap of kombucha.

8. What’s one food you couldn’t live without?

-I can’t think of one! I guess i feel pretty balanced in what I eat. If anything, I need salt/savory more than sweets… perhaps vegan macaroni and cheese haha

9. What is one quote you try to live by?

“Practice and all is coming” – Pattabhi Jois

“Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self” – The Bhagavad Gita

I also like the quote “Nothing in nature blooms all year, be patient with yourself”.. regardless if that is technically true, I value that it teaches us that we do not constantly have to be thriving. We will go through times of hibernation, times of transformation, times of growth, times of exhilaration. It reminds me to relax into the flow and rhythm of life.

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Kelly Fielding

Kelly is a passionate writer, enthusiastic yogi and professional sunrise chaser. Kelly has traveled and worked extensively around the world in health resorts, detox centers, and wellness retreats. Specialising in health and wellness, her written work is regularly published in both print and online media. A gypsy heart and lover of nature, Kelly finds inspiration in the world around her and translates her visions into whimsical stories and creative projects.