This blogpost features Michelle Maue, founder of Clayton Yoga since 2003. Michelle has taught over 5,000 corporate on-site yoga classes and graduated over 300 yoga teachers worldwide.
What made you want to consider taking yoga?
Having grown up in a very competitive atmosphere both in my family as well as in the larger community setting, I knew very little about myself and what I really enjoyed. Growing up in Miami, Florida, I attended a private prep school and practiced 2-3 hours of tennis per day. This extremely busy schedule demonstrated that I could achieve goals, but I felt incredibly distracted and had very little “downtime” to really understanding myself and thus what made me happy.
How did you fall in love with yoga?
I love yoga specifically for me because it was the first exercise that was a non-competitive sport that got my feel-good endorphins going and also got me out of my head. If I had yoga earlier in my life, I definitely would have made some higher quality and more lasting, clear headed and positive choices with my life. It was not all bad, I just had no idea where I was going. It took me a few years, really until I was 26 to understand what I wanted to be or even do with my life. I laugh now looking back because I used to drive around so much having several different types of jobs: waitress, tennis coach, and part-time substitute school teacher judging everything because I was so stuck in my head. When I found yoga, I was able to break things apart, let some stuff go, and come up with a simply step by step strategy of what I really wanted from life and to start plodding ahead.
How does yoga benefit your life?
My favorite yoga benefit that I have received is this ability to be able to calm myself down and to feel a greater spiritual connection to something bigger than just myself. Practicing volunteer work with yoga now helps me in very much the same way. When I think of other people and how I can be more of service, I then get the extra added energy I need to make it through some potentially dark moments in life. Time when things could have turned really destructive, but instead, was able to say “OK, if not for me – if I’m not willing to take the next step for me — then I’ll take it for this bigger picture that I know I am connected to. This benefit of yoga continues to by far to keep me motivated to stay on the path and continue to feel drawn to that highest level of inspiration thus by far being the greatest benefit I have received.
What change do you experience in your life as a result of your yoga practice?
Yoga entered my everyday life and changed my worldview in that I take time every day to care for and listen to, and appreciate my physical body. Having once experienced severe back pain, something that can often be “issues trapped in the tissues”, yoga practice started to change all of that. I started to unlock the secrets. I could feel the tangible energy and feeling my body come alive, that this energy could be harnessed and used as a force of good in the world. Because of this, in my role as a teacher of yoga teachers, I do not focus on instructing the physical anatomy as much as really listening to the language of soul. It isn’t about trying to perfect the posture as much as it is about unlocking hidden weaknesses in our life. I believe that’s what really turns us on as people. We might not expect just how valuable finding one’s own weaknesses can be. I think a lot of people in this culture would be surprised to find out that their vulnerability and their soft spots are actually treasures waiting to be revealed.
Would you share your favorite yoga tip?
The best yoga tip I could offer to new students is to be very patient with their process and practice yoga at least 6-10 times before making any final conclusions. The true benefit of yoga is when these skills begin to transfer in every other area of our life. We are not here to judge ourself for having difficult moments. When understand that, we give ourself more permission to slow down and receive. And when we listen to our body and practice breathing, we feel calm, strong and ready for anything!
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