Updated: Aug 23, 2021
Meet Michelle, an MLPC teacher and certified Sober Curious Yoga Teacher! Michelle is a certified RYT 200 with the Yoga Alliance of Canada. Since her 200 YTT, she has became certified in YIN YOGA, Yoga Nidra, Yoga for Kids & Teens, and most recently Sober Curious Yoga. Michelle is committed to creating a safe atmosphere where students of every level can mindfully challenge themselves, accept their edge and celebrate their unique abilities. She bring humor and compassion to all of her classes as well weaving symbolism and insight of the yogic traditions throughout.
In this episode of Sober Yoga Girl, I interview Michelle about her yoga journey and her sober journey.
If you enjoyed this episode please don’t forget to subscribe, rate and share the podcast so it can reach more people that it will serve and benefit.
Join me and Michelle for yoga classes through the MLPC at www.themindfullifepractice.com. Follow me on Instagram @alexmcrobs and check out my offerings in yoga, meditation and coaching at http://themindfullifepractice.com/live-schedule.
Intro: Welcome to the Sober Yoga Girl podcast with Alex McRobs, international yoga teacher and sober coach. I broke up with booze for good in 2019 and now I'm here to help others do the same. You're not alone and a sober life can be fun and fulfilling. Let me show you how.
Alex: All right. All right, so welcome back to another episode of “Sober Yoga Girl”. I am super excited to have Michelle with me here today. And Michelle is one of our Mindful Life Practice yoga teachers who is in all the way in Red Deer, Alberta. So pretty much like the other side of the world. I think it must be really early morning for you right now. Right. Is it like 6:00 a.m.?
Michelle: Yeah, it is. It's just after 6:00 A.M. right now.
Alex: Oh, my goodness. Well, thank you so much for getting up early to do this interview. It's so nice to have you here.
Michelle: Yeah. Thanks for having me.
Alex: So Michelle and I met when Michelle joined the Sober Curious Yoga teacher training earlier this year. And now she's teaching for The Mindful Life Practice, which is amazing. So we're going to start off and learn a little bit about Michelle's yoga journey and then a little bit about her sober journey. So let's start off first-- with just kind of tell me a bit about yourself. You know, who you are and where you're from.
Michelle: Yeah, and so, like you said, my name is Michelle and I live in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. I'm originally from British Columbia, which is just one province to the West. But we moved here when I was in junior high and I stayed in Alberta. Lots of my family members have gone back to B.C., well, back and forth, but I really enjoy it here. We kind of have like a pretty settled life here, even though I would love to live on a beach somewhere, especially during--as it starts to get colder. One day. But yeah. So I work Monday to Friday as an accounting manager for an oil and gas service company and then teaching yoga in the evenings. I'm also a Chakradance facilitator and I'm an artist as well. So I make wire sculptures and use gemstones in different types of art. So yeah.
Alex: Wow. I didn't know that you made sculptures. That’s beautiful.
Michelle: Yeah, they're usually trees. Like wired trees. Yeah.
Alex: Oh, that's so cool. That’s so unique.
Alex: So tell me a bit about your yoga practice. How did you start practicing yoga?
Michelle: It's actually a really crazy story about starting to practice yoga. When I was pregnant with my daughter in 2000 and so 20 years ago, I had always been very into cardio strength training. So I did really like hard physical workouts for at least two hours a day. And then I had some complications with my pregnancy. So I wasn't really allowed to participate in activities that I had previously. And my mom actually went and bought me like a Shiva Rea prenatal yoga DVD. And so she brought that home and I started doing it and I really liked it. It was just a different way to build strength, is what I thought of it. Right. So and it was really effective. I really liked it. I really enjoyed it. But then after I had my daughter, I kind of got back into like a little bit more physical activities. And I did yoga off and on for quite a few years, but really, I think got back to a physical yoga practice in probably 2014 when I again had injuries from-- I used to play roller derby and it's a very physical, very rough sport. And so I hurt myself a lot and again, couldn't really participate in a lot of exercise. So my doctor suggested I start practicing yoga again and I was like, oh, okay. So I started just going to a couple of classes a week and I never practiced yoga in a studio before, so because it was very few and far between here. So it was very interesting to take that from like a home VHS recorded practice to going into a yoga studio and practicing. It was obviously very different, but I really fell in love with it again.
Alex: Wow. And so, is there-- you said there's like few yoga studios in Red Deer. Is there more now or like what's the yoga community like there?
Michelle: Yeah, there's quite a few yoga studios here now, and it's interesting how they all just kind of propped up right. Like people became more interested in yoga, became more of like a workout to people here. So there is like probably in this area about eight different yoga studios.
Michelle: Yeah. And it's all within, I would say the last like five years for sure. Most of them have opened. We always had a few, but yeah, it's-- there's quite a few and there's a lot of little small communities around us as well. So they all have yoga studio.
Michelle: So it's great that so many people are practicing yoga.
Alex: Yeah, it's amazing. And how big is Red Deer? I realize I don't even have a context for it. Like what city is it in comparison to?
Michelle: So we've got about last time, I heard I think it was about 170-180,000 people here. And when I first moved here, there was only like 65,000. So it's grown like a lot in the last like ten years. But yeah, it's right in between Calgary and Edmonton. And Calgary and Edmonton have grown so much over the last ten years too. I couldn't even estimate how big they are. But it's a fair sized city. Yeah. But it doesn't have a real hustle and bustle of a larger city like Toronto or Calgary or Edmonton like. It's still a little bit quieter here.
Alex: Okay. Yeah. I've never been to Alberta, actually. I-- you know, I realized a couple of years back when I was in Canada, I was like, you know, I've seen a lot of the world, but I haven't really seen my own country. And so I did do an East Canada road trip. But that alone took me a week. And we were driving 13 hours a day and we didn't even make it to the furthest East of Canada. I don't-- I think I'd stopped a P.E.I. and it was a full week of like ten hour, 13-hour driving days.
Alex: And so I have not really-- I've flown to B.C. and I had a relative in Yukon. So I was in Yukon once when I was really young, but I haven't seen any of the inside, like Saskatoon, Alberta. What else is in there? Manitoba.
Michelle: Yeah. Manitoba too. Yeah.
Alex: So I'll have to get out there when I'm in Canada. I have to do a trip.
Michelle: Yeah, absolutely. Well our country is so vast though, like you said. I mean taking a trip across Canada, you've got to plan weeks, right.
Alex: It’s a mission.
Michelle: It is, yeah.
Alex: Okay, so tell me, what kind of benefits did you experience from your yoga practice?
Michelle: Well, you know, like I said, I had originally just started practicing yoga just for the physical benefits of it, just to get that movement. So, of course, that's obviously a huge benefit of yoga. But then like learning how to use my body in different ways. Right. So it wasn't always about the hard and fast workouts or lifting heavy weights or, you know, like basically damaging our bodies. It was learning how to develop those healthy physical movements in a way that, was a little bit kinder to myself. Right. So that was really an interesting aspect of it when I started to grasp that idea that, you know, like, we don't have to be. What's the good word that I could use? You don't have to be so hard on our physical bodies or like so violent with ourselves. Right. So when that started to change for me, that's when the mental benefits and mental and emotional benefits of yoga really came in. And just, you know, willing to be present with yourself. You know, like when you make that connection of the breath and your physical body and the movement, it's like something changes about it. And so, yeah, it was like-- really just that brain and that sense of calm. And I always call it like, well, I used to always call it being like yoga stoned after a class where you're being like--right and so you’re going to feel your body do that. But then also, like mentally, you know, your mind was just like, okay, now I feel so much better. So really, I've always been a very high strung, a busy person. So it was hard for me to get into that idea of just settling in and being quiet and being with my physical body.
Michelle: Allowing it to be what it was.
Alex: Yeah. You know, it's funny that you say yoga stoned because I used to say that, too. And I think you're the first person I've ever heard who also uses that phrase. Yeah. So I know exactly what you mean. I would get it after hot yoga, you come out and always in a daze. Do you practice hot yoga?
Michelle: I have practice hot yoga off and on over the years and I definitely don't like mind hot yoga but for myself. I-- it's a little bit to-- like aggressive for me, like the yoga stuff yoga studios here.They’re--that's not the kind of yoga I want to practice.
Michelle: Right. Yeah. So, I mean, lots of people love it, and that's great.
Alex: And you know what? I was in love with it for years, and I felt like I didn't get the same benefits being in a regular room. And the funny thing is, then I came to the Middle East and they don't have hot yoga here because it's so hot, like it doesn't sell very well. And so I was forced to practice yoga in a regular room. And I found that it was-- I just had an attachment to the heat. And I think it was probably climate related thing. Canada was so cold that I was like, you know, I like to be in the heat because I like to be warm and now I'm okay now that I'm somewhere hot.
Michelle: Yeah, totally.
Alex: But okay, that was a bit of a tangent. Back to you. What does yoga mean to you if you were to define it?
Michelle: What does yoga mean to me. When I saw that question on the list, I was like, there's so many different things right. I really think yoga for me is about like acceptance. That's what it. What I think of when I think about yoga. So not just like on your mat during your physical practice, but, you know, just really living. This might be a little bit too much for people that haven’t taken yoga teacher training, but incorporating the eight limbs of yoga into your life by taking it off the mat. And whenever somebody says the word yoga to me, I automatically think of peace, right. Like inner peace for myself. So that's really to me, what yoga is.
Alex: It’s beautiful. So beautiful, I'm getting shivers. So tell me about the journey to become a yoga teacher. What made you want to teach yoga?
Michelle: It was really when my yoga practice changed for me. Like I said, when you make that connection, it was just something that I became so passionate about, like seeing the benefits of it for myself. But then other students in classes with me, because we would have people of all different levels coming to classes in all different forms of bodies and injuries. And the teacher like just working to make it accessible for everyone. And I had a really great teacher when I first started practicing in a studio. So he really like made everyone comfortable and made sure that everyone could do whatever it was that we were doing, right. So I started to really just like the idea of that we can all do this, right. We can all do this, it's beneficial for everyone, and then as soon as you see that in people where they make the connection that it's more than just a physical practice, like the first couple of times I saw it, I got, like, so excited. I'd be like, oh, you're one of us now. So I really like that. And so I decided to learn a little bit more about yoga, really just for myself, you know, to take that yoga off the mat and into my life as well. And so I signed up for a yoga teacher training that--yeah, I just wanted to share it with everyone, with as many people as I could.
Alex: Yes. Amazing. And I know what you mean by like when you find someone who just-- I said to my yoga teacher trainers recently, it's like I finally found my people because it's like you guys want to talk about, like satya and ahimsa as much as me.
Michelle: Yeah. Absolutely.
Alex: It's really beautiful when people see beyond the Asana’s like beyond the physical.
Michelle: Yeah. And, you know, I teach some community classes here for like the different counties in this area. And there's a lot of different like religious organizations here and mostly like Christian based. And some of them over the years have had a really like, I don't know, distorted view of what yoga is. Right. And so when I would start teaching the county, the people that would hire me would say, like, okay, like, don't you talk about yoga philosophy and don't bring spiritual things into the class, like they're just here for movement and that kind of stuff. But I always found that as the time went on in these series of classes, they would start asking questions about like, what does this mean? Or can you tell us a little bit about like what the idea of novel state because they’d all heard it. But in those classes, I wasn't supposed to say it. Right. So they would start asking questions like that. So I find, like, you just open yourself up to it and let it come. And that's when you find the people, right? Yeah, it's really great.
Alex: So tell me, what do you-- how do you work with yoga students today? I know you teach for us at The Mindful Life Practice. Do you teach in-person classes. Are they open in Red Deer?
Michelle: Yeah, we actually just reopened a couple of weeks ago. And the students that I teach at, we have kind of like a limited schedule right now just because it's summer. And people here, like we only have three months. So a lot of people just get outside. But people are still really looking forward to yoga because we are closed so much for Covid. So we just opened back up to our in studio classes. But they’re limited numbers. But we're also still doing all the classes on Zoom, too. So we've given our students the option to either come to the studio or join us on Zoom. So yeah.
Alex: That’s so great.
Michelle: It's really great actually, when you think about how Covid has opened that up for people a little bit more.Right.
Alex: I think it's amazing because there's so many people that could not previously reach yoga. You know, like if they have responsibilities at home, the commute.
Alex: Maybe it was like too intimidating to enter a studio. And then for me, it's like I always want to do classes with my teacher who's in L.A., so literally on the other side of the world. And for the first time, I can do them with him. And it's amazing. And so I just think the world has made us think innovatively and it's connected so many people together, like brought us together. So it's really cool.
Michelle: Yeah, it's great. And so many people that would have never tried yoga. Like, I find it amazing now. How many people are doing Zoom classes. So it's like I love it. Yeah. I'm tired of seeing myself on video.
Alex: So what advice would you give for someone who is curious about starting a yoga practice?