An Interview with Yogi Muse, Michelle Marchildon
Michelle Marchildon will be gracing Inspire with her beautiful presence this May and we could not be more thrilled. Why, you ask? For so many reasons. Let’s list a few. She is the yogi muse. She is hilarious and smart. She is a creative, authentic, and unique yoga instructor with a seriously compelling story to share. Your world is sure to be rocked!
What encouraged you to begin teaching yoga?
Like many, I took my first Yoga Teacher Training because I wanted to know more about yoga. I did not anticipate teaching as a result. Then I had a friend whose daughter could not participate in sports for physical reasons. She asked if I could work with her a bit. Within just a few months you could see this child’s confidence grow. It encouraged me to seek out those who could benefit from yoga’s inspiration. Today, my primary audience are “Wisdom Warriors” who are looking for more from their mat than just a workout.
What compelled you to write the first book? How long did it take? Are you planning on any others in the future?
Finding More on the Mat: How I Grew Better, Wiser and Stronger through Yoga took me three years to write, but in reality, it took me 50 years to understand my story. You could say I’m a slow learner.
I have a third book co-written with Desiree Rumbaugh. It’s an inspirational book about yoga, aging and growing older with gusto. Our agent tells us it will be big, HUGE, however a publisher has yet to sign on. Most love it except for the fact that it’s about aging and yoga, which you know, is sort of a problem. Apparently, everyone else in yoga is getting younger by the minute and Des and I are growing fearlessly in the other direction. At the very least we can laugh about it.
Do you like to rise with the sun or would you say you are you a night owl? What’s your favorite part about this time of day?
I rise before the sun. I mean, why wait? I love the quiet of the early mornings and it’s the only time my brain seems to function to write. When I finished the outline for Finding More, it was about 4:30 a.m. I ran upstairs to tell my husband, and he didn’t seem quite as enthusiastic until around noon.
What is one of the most valuable lessons you’ve learned from the mat and have been able to incorporate into your daily life?
The Universe may be conspiring for us. It’s just as easy to believe in it this way, than the other way around. This simple shift has brought me courage in ways I cannot explain, starting with the fact that I am getting on an airplane to go to Dallas. I do not get on airplanes lightly. It takes alcohol, prescription meds, and faith that it’s for the best.
I want it both ways.
I am an East Coast girl, raised on the shores of Long Island, the Cape, Nantucket and even in Florida. My mother was once a boat designer and we lived two years on a yacht. Yet here I am in the Rocky Mountains. My husband, who is a Montana man, promised that one day we would live again near the sea. I have yet to see that happen. Now, we are building a house near the foothills, with a yoga room of course, because the view inside is most important.
What is one of the greatest adventures you’ve ever embarked on?
Motherhood. I have no idea if it’s going to have a happy ending, but if not, I want my money back.
In your book, Finding More on The Mat, you mention grace as being very foundational in your practice (on & off the mat). Why do you think grace is so crucial as a yogi and as a person?
There is a virus among us and it’s called low self-esteem. So many people suffer from it and more are getting infected every day. I don’t care what caused it, but there is a cure called Grace. Once you realize that you are already abundant, in fact you are perfectly imperfect, then you can let go of all the nonsense in your head and get on with things.
For me, I was always very hard on myself. I thought I should have been published by college graduation. When I was a journalist I should have won a Pulitzer. I should have had the perfect first marriage, and then the perfect house. Life doesn’t work that way.
I have a friend who was unhappy because there are so many other people who have so much. Yet she has created a “perfect” life filled with family and friends. I feel sorry for rich people because they are always adding on to their houses to keep up. Even sheiks who have houses the size of small countries are miserable because someone else has one more wife.
Yoga teaches Grace. You learn that you are where you are supposed to be. You learn that you are already good enough. You learn that you are loved and you didn’t have to do anything at all to earn it. You learn to practice not to get the “fruits” of a great pose, but just to practice for the sake of practice. The poses become our teachers, and our stepping stones to feeling more abundant and more at peace with ourselves. Downward dog is actually man’s best friend.
What pose makes you feel most connected with your true self? What about it makes you feel this way?
Savasana. I kick ass at this pose.
You will be presenting workshops focused on making a meaningful experience for students through the art of theming classes. Why is it that a theme can transform the whole of a class? Can you share a specific experience from one of your classes that showed you the value of a themed class?
Yoga can change a body, but a theme can change a life. Nobody, ever, not once, told me that touching their toes altered the course of their existence. But I hear that all the time about a theme. I have students who were feeling hopeless and after class they ran for president. Okay, not really. But several people per class will tell me that they feel more encouraged about their practice and inspired about their life.
I have all kinds of students, from young people to older ones, from unknowns to celebrities, from uncoordinated people to famous athletes. A theme can show that at our core we are the same, struggling human beings. A theme gives us hope and shows us that we are not alone.
What would you say is the greatest gift of being a yoga instructor? How has it blessed your life to share this gift with others?
When a student tells me they needed to hear exactly what I said that day, that is a great feeling, to know you have touched their spirit. Life is not easy, and neither is yoga. It’s just great to know you have company, and that we are all in the same boat as we go up the river. Now you know, I can get on a boat; a plane is another story.
RSVP for Michelle’s Workshop HERE
Michelle is the author of two books. Finding More on the Mat: How I grew Better, Wiser and Stronger through Yoga is the hilarious story of one unhappy soccer mother’s transformation through yoga. Theme Weaver: Connect the Power of Inspiration to Teaching Yoga is the premier guide for teaching yoga teachers how to use a theme in yoga. Both are available for presale to be picked up at her workshop.