Melissa has brought to thousands of homes around the world a simple Yoga style for everybody through her weekly free videos in her YouTube channel. Melissa’s Yoga videos have received more that 1,000,000 visits around the World and some have been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Italian and more. Melissa and Tim have created a forum where you can share your experiences, post questions, and access Yoga videos either those for forum members or those on sale at their online shop
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If you watch Melissa’s Yoga videos you will realize that Yoga is much more than asanas ( poses) and pranayama ( breathing exercises) . Yoga is a simple and dynamic way to connect with your inner self. Melissa’s videos are the perfect path to do it enjoying the process.
We hope you enjoy the interview!
When and where did you meet with Yoga?
I first started yoga when I was in my early twenties and a newlywed. In my early days of marriage to Tim I had traded in my active university student lifestyle for a pretty sedentary life with lots of treats and wining and dining. The result was about 20 lbs of weight gain in a short period of time. Tim and I decided to get a personal trainer to lose some weight. We worked out a lot! I decided it would be a good idea to stretch once a week and so I started a yoga class at his ju-jitsu dojo on Saturdays. The first day when I got home from that class my voice was about an octave lower (I think I talked like minnie mouse before that) and I couldn’t believe how much more relaxed I was!
When I was working on my Ph.D. I was looking around me at how incredibly unhappy my peers and my superiors were. Most of them admitted to being on anti-anxiety and anti-depression medication. I knew I didn’t want that for myself to be able to cope with the life of an academic. Then we had a wake up call in our family. I was twenty eight years old and my sister Tricia’s partner, Ryan, died suddenly and inexplicably in his sleep at 23. They would have been married and had a life together if he had lived, I expect. That moment made me question everything and realize how precious life was. That day I threw out my birth control and eleven months later, my beautiful daughter Trinity Ryan graced our lives. I was already a fitness instructor specializing in mind/body fitness. From that day forward I knew I would finish my Ph.D. but I made the decision to be a full-time yoga instructor, because that was where my heart was.
Every Yoga teacher brings something unique to their teachings. How do you interpret Yoga?
I feel that my interpretation of yoga comes from my unique life experience. I have a background in fitness and pilates. I have a Ph.D. in cultural studies and communications. I adore the Hindu Deities and the stories of their human foibles. I am also incredibly influenced by the Metta Meditation and the Loving Kindness Prayer from Buddhism.
To me, the most important benefit of yoga is the promise of awakening to the light of your own true nature. I will practice yoga every day for the rest of my life because of that promise. Everything I teach in yoga is directed towards that intention in some way or another.
How much time do you spend daily to Yoga?
I spend just over an hour a day on my own personal practice. About half of that time is spent on the physical asanas. The other half is spent in meditation. I also find journaling to be an integral part of my yoga practice and coming to know my True Self.
You’ve more than 177 free Yoga classes in youtube . Where did you get the inspiration to create a class every week?
Sometimes it amazes me that I never run out of ideas for yoga classes! Ideas never seem to be a problem. In yoga there is this term called “shakti,” it is a dynamic feminine creative power that runs throughout the entire universe. It manifests through creativity and is available to everybody. I guess I am just tapped into the shakti of yoga class ideas! 😉
There are many types of Yoga. Which one do you recommend and why?
There are many types of yoga and I think it depends on your personal preference and personality. When you start yoga be sure to try out many different kinds and find one that “fits” for you. If you don’t like one style, more than likely there is a another style out there that will work for you.
With Namaste Yoga we focus on real yoga for real people. This is definitely reactionary to many of the athletic styles of yoga out there that are quite performative and leave the participants watching yoga videos and not able to participate. We want everybody to be able to practice yoga, that is why we have created yoga that everybody can do. The style that I teach has been highly influenced by my teachers Esther Myers and Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy.
The Sanskrit word sadhana means –“ to accomplish.” A sadhana is simply a daily spiritual practice designed to allow yourself to turn inward and come to know yourself on a deeper level. A spiritual practice is simply a practice that connects You to you. That is – your ego self, which is small, limited and separate from everything else, to your Higher Self, which is infinite, unlimited and connected to All that Is. Taking time to focus on yourself each day with a practice that is the same for 40 days can have a profound and transformative effect.
What benefits do we get from practicing Yoga?
The list is expansive! Flexibility, strength, balance, breathing, posture, helps with anxiety, relaxation, reduces stress response, lowers blood pressure and slows heart rate which is great news for those at risk of heart disease and stroke. Yoga has been associated with decreased cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well as a boost in immune system function. Yoga benefits other chronic medical conditions, relieving symptoms of asthma, back pain, and arthritis. Yoga has benefitted those suffering from insomnia. Other researchers have been studying whether yoga can slow the aging process, increase a person’s sense of self-acceptance, or improve energy levels. Yoga can help you improve your spiritual awareness and also help improve your relationships.
How often you should practice Yoga to notice the benefits?
You can practice yoga every day. Anybody practicing yoga three-five times a week for 20-60 minutes will experience these benefits in my opinion.
Any advice for beginners?
The best advice I heard given was by a yoga teacher who suggested their students should go their yoga mats and do one yoga posture for one minute a day. This is how you start. Once you start, there will be no stopping you. 🙂
Free weekly video sample
Short video sample
In these videos Melissa answers the many questions that arise during the practice of yoga and introduces changes in Yoga poses to make it accessible to everybody.
Aditional information at her web site : www.melissawest.com
We hope you enjoy Melissa’s videos and your Yoga practice!!
Maria J. González