Melissa is our very first representative of The Local Collective in Charlotte, North Carolina and we couldn’t be more pleased to have such a warm, infectuous sparkle of an individual helping us uncover such a dynamic scene. Meet Melissa!
gy: What is your go-to yoga pose when you’ve only got a few minutes to practice? Why do you think it’s so appealing?
mh: Pigeon. I love half pigeon, I love full pigeon. Anything that gets me deep into my hips takes me immediately to that good eyes-rolling-back-into-my-head connection to the physical sensations that I’m feeling. The combination of low lunge and half hanumanasana are also a pretty amazing duo that I never leave out of any practice.
gy: Early morning routine? What’s yours? Coffee? Tea?
mh: I go for coffee first thing in the morning. I have at times, felt the need to steer myself away from the need for caffeine, but it is an early morning joy that I’ve settled into the pleasure of accepting without guilt. Coffee is good, really good! To get the space that is awaiting in my body, I crack things: my back, hips, knees, shoulders, lots of things in my body like to crack. I’m gentle and non-forceful, but I find that when I am in my frequent practice of yoga, that there is movement in my body and it feels good. When I am away from my practice, there is more stagnancy and rigidity.
gy: What is one song you never get tired of hearing?
mh: This frequently changes, but “Let go” by Frou Frou always lights a fire for me.
gy: Do you have a favorite quote, affirmation, or saying that gets you through the tough times? What is it?
mh: Yes, I love it so much I have it tattooed on my back.
“ When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward. For there you have been and will always long to return” Leonardo da Vinci
Your flight is your bliss, which never leaves you.
gy: How would you describe your yoga teaching style?
mh: Supportive, inviting, challenging. I want the practice that I guide my students through to feel intelligently sequenced and paced, where there is motivation, listening and growth with your own best teacher- yourself.
gy: How old were you when you fell in love with the practice of yoga? What was so appealing about it to you?
mh: I was 29 when I fell for yoga. It had been whispering to me for years before, but I was a skating athlete and only had the time to utilize yoga for cross training. When I retired from skating, I went in big. I found a daily practice that reminded me of the fluidity of my dance background. It was softer, and strong in a different way. I was finding so much more than physical exercise, I was healing. And that is what kept me coming back.
gy: What made you want to become a yoga teacher?
mh: I love sharing what I am passionate about through teaching. Before yoga teaching was a career, teaching high school was a career. My education is in art, and I taught photography, art and ceramics in the school system. I find it natural and nurturing to me to be in the environment of learning and fostering inquisitive and sharing relationships with kids up to adults is the best part. I wanted to know so much more about yoga and still seek to learn all the time. You are your most authentic self I think when you are doing what you love and your attitude is one of openness to learning from anyone and everyone.
gy: Describe yourself at 21.
mh: Yikes. Carefree. I just smile when I think about my 21 year old self. I was in that sweet spot that will never exist again in life, having graduated college but not yet obtained my first “real” job. I made art, I tended bar, I dipped my toes into teaching, I fearlessly pieced together a superbly modest living without much concern for stepping into adulthood and I felt damn proud of myself for it. It’s similar to how I felt at 31, when it was time to take the leap from quitting my education career to step full time into yoga. I called upon my fearlessness. My trust in the Universe. My faith, that if I began taking the steps in the direction I wanted to go, then amazingly enough, I would look around and find that I was there.
gy: What would you say has been one of the best parts of growing up, getting older?
mh: Heightening my emotional intelligence. I’ve had many experiences and relationships to learn from. Hopefully I’ve retained those lessons to embody more of the qualities that I admire, to know what I need to be my best, and to learn the same about others I care about. Less ego-driven behavior and more truth seeking has become a more comfortable way of being as I get older.
gy: Snack wise, what is your greatest weakness, what can you simply not pass up?
mh: Yogurt or chocolate covered pretzels. Salty and sweet and heavenly.
gy: What are a couple of traits of your own that you hope your kids (or future kids) may inherit. Maybe a couple you hope they don’t?
mh: I hope my children fearlessly follow their passions and make a career out of something they love. I hope they seek to constantly learn about the endless well that is their own strength. I hope they are kind, humble, and value the people and things that matter to them.
I do hope will have a stronger grasp on money and business and a desire to plan, save and be in charge of their own success.
gy: Describe your first love, in six words or less.
mh: Dreamy Peter Cetera filled nostalgia
gy: A Sunday all to yourself, how do you spend it?
mh: Yoga, relaxing, walking dogs, working on a craft, a blog post or a home project.
gy: What about a night out on the town? Who would you spend it with? What would you do?
mh: My favorite nights out are when my boyfriend and I have something cultural or memorable planned, like a concert or a musical. Dinners out with my man or casual gatherings out with my yogis are the best. My fellow yoga teachers and students are who I enjoy spending my time with!
gy: Who have you been friends with the longest and how did you meet?
I have known my bestie, Simril, since my Junior year of high school. I transferred schools when I had an opportunity to be happier at an performing arts school. I knew one soul there and as he introduced me to his people on the first day of school, he said “and here is your new best friend” as he presented Simril like a gift. And that was that! We spent our ten year friendiversary in the Bahamas, our fifteen year in Las Vegas, and this year makes twenty. Time for another trip.
gy: What yoga teacher has most influenced your practice and teaching?
mh: I learn from everyone and I aim to take classes from as many teachers as I can to keep it fresh and keep my inspiration going! I learned from Tanner Bazemore, how to be yourself and how to be successful with people walking in the door. I learned from Johnna Smith how to speak on the posture’s stories and the lessons behind our yoga. I learned from Jen Busco how to use simple language and be okay with holding quiet space. I learned from Dorie Fusaro how to love and nurture a room of people. I learned from Dana Flynn and Anya Porter how to be creative in your flow, invent poses and bring something new to the students.
gy: Can you name three traits you cherish most in this teacher?
mh: Besides the skillful components of pacing, sequencing and voice, the teacher that goes above and beyond shows authenticity/relatability, they have a thoughtful message or theme, and they show creativity in reaching the postures.
gy: What do you love most about your home space?
mh: I am currently creating what is already my most favorite room in my home. Final touches are being put on a newly finished space that will house my yoga studio and my art studio. I am greatly anticipating having a sacred space to be with my practice, to plan, to host classes and clients. And I currently rent an art studio in a co-op warehouse space, but I will get to create so much more when I just have to go up a flight of stairs. Look for some content soon from this cool new space!
gy: In another life, what alternate career paths might you find yourself in, what else fascinates you?
mh: I sew, but would learn everything about making clothes and be a fashion designer. I’d be a taxidermist. I’d work with animals in some way. I’d be a forensic anthropologist. I’d be an extreme special effects makeup artist. I’d have a little bakery. I am fascinated by so many things.
gy: What was the last thing you binge watched on Netflix?
mh: Making a Murderer.
gy: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
mh: My mother said about raising me, I loved you too much to let you be a brat. I use this piece of advice in loving people and in teaching them how to love me. I use this in raising my children. It’s the accountability of being good to one another. Acting with awareness of self and how that self makes marks on others and positively interacts within the world.
photo credit: Wanda Koch
Melissa resides and teaches in her hometown of Charlotte, NC. Her Charlotte community loves hot and fast yoga, which is very energetic and fun to teach, but she also enjoys diversifying her teaching styles and her own practice to encompass the vast beauty that is yoga. Check out her yoga, art and lifestyle blog at www.innerchildartstudio.com.
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