Meet December Featured Teacher:
Michelle Berman Marchildon, The Yogi Muse
Author, Columnist, Editor, Animal Rights Activist, Yoga Teacher
Read Michelle's inspiring insights on teaching yoga, writing, animal rights, music, and more!
Why yoga? When did you first know you were hooked?
I dabbled in yoga around 20 years ago but it didn’t stick. Then, I returned to my mat when I had young children and I was not feeling like me. I met Desiree Rumbaugh and Amy Ippoliti, and soon I was signing up for everything they offered. My husband said that as much money as I’ve spent on trainings and workshops it doesn’t compare to what I used to spend in the mall. So he’s very supportive.
You’re known for your sassy, straight-talking, inspirational style. After years of teaching how do you keep your classes fresh for your students (and for you?)
Inspiration lives inside. When you are awake and aware, you feel creative. Yoga is the practice of waking up, so I stay on my mat and practice as much for myself as for those I love.
What pose has taught you the most?
Handstand. It is my white whale. Some days I have a solid Handstand, and some days I don’t. I know that like the Universe, I will never control this pose, and I’m mostly okay with it.
You’re an award-winning journalist, author, columnist and now, editor. How does your yoga practice influence your writing? And how does your writing impact your yoga practice.
I wrote for newspapers and magazines coming out of Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. I used to focus on finance, business and general news. Then I became a yoga student. Now yoga journalism seems to be my niche. There are skilled yogis and award-winning writers. I was able to combine those things. Yoga unlocked my creativity and freed me from the fear of expressing myself. I mean, if you can appear in public in Lycra, then you can pretty much do anything.
What is the Wisdom Warrior movement and why is it dear to your heart?
Wisdom Warriors™ was started by Desiree Rumbaugh. It is for the experienced yogi over age 50. Desiree wanted to build a community of people who sought to stay strong and flexible and keep a repertoire of advanced yoga poses. There are gentle yoga classes, and Silver Sneakers ™ formats. This is not that class. We kick ass, we just go slow and carefully. It is dear to my heart because for many years I thought I was the only one who wanted to do this, and then I found great company along the way.
Through your writings, workshops and retreats you’ve earned the reputation as a teacher’s teacher. What is the key message you share with teachers?
Re-discover the reason why you teach, and you will find your themes and students. It’s so much better to be authentic than to try and be popular. There are a lot of yoga teachers, but there’s only one you. If you are genuine in your classes, you will encourage your students to do the same.
Do you practice every day?
I take one day off a week. It’s a purposeful day of rest, and when I don’t practice I remember why I love yoga and missed it even for one day. Therefore, my practice isn’t a chore. It’s a passion.
What is your seva passion?
I love animals. My father is a world famous veterinarian, and I was raised with animals of all kinds including an ocelot. I give 10% of profits to animal charities. I pick a new one each year. Last year I supported the U.S. Humane Society’s campaign for the prevention of cruelty to farm animals. This year I support the National Mill Dog Rescue, which rescues dogs that are being used for breeding in inhumane conditions and finds them new homes. I am looking at working with a Pit Bull rescue in the future.
What’s your favorite song in your current playlist?
“Ong so hung” by Guru Singh. It’s ridiculous. I could practice to it every minute. I have it on repeat when I practice in my home studio. I don’t know if I’ll ever tire of it.
What’s ahead for the Yogi Muse next year?
My “To Do” list is to “Do Less.” I’m planning on doing more of what makes me happy. I love encouraging teachers to find their voice with “Theme Weaver” trainings. I’m writing a book with Desiree on the Wisdom Warriors ™ and offering a yoga retreat in Costa Rica. I’m calling it the yoga retreat where you can do nothing at all with other great beings, and have an open bar.
And of course, we have to ask - Why do you love Inner Waves Organics?
I look for companies that do good in the world. Inner Waves uses 100% organic materials that do not cause harm to the Earth to produce. They make everything in the U.S.A., where workers are paid a fair wage. They contribute to seva projects. And they have the prettiest colors and clothes that are comfortable for practice. So when you wear their clothes, you feel better. And when I support companies like this, I do my part to make a better planet.
Where can our readers learn more?
The internet. It’s not complicated. www.YogiMuse.com
Michelle Berman Marchildon is The Yogi Muse. She’s an award-winning journalist and the author of two books on yoga, Finding More on the Mat: How I Grew Better, Wiser and Stronger through Yoga and Theme Weaver: Connect the Power of Inspiration to Teaching Yoga. She’s a Contributing Editor for Mantra Magazine and a columnist for other yoga media. She is an E-RYT 500 Hatha teacher in Denver, Co. You can find her blog and website at www.YogiMuse.com.