Q. Who are you? What is your background?
A. My name is Michaela Coleman. I was born in Midcoast Maine and grew up there with the big blessings of that area’s natural splendor, an amazing family, and dear friends with whom I am still very close. At Guilford College, I majored in Sociology/Anthropology and minored in English and Peace and Conflict Studies. After graduating, I transitioned from student to staff and enjoyed working at Guilford College for four years in the Office for Campus Life, with a great work family.
In Spring 2015, I began the 7 month, 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training program you and Andra West LeBauer led at Greensboro Downtown Yoga. I’m sure you recall how nervous I was about deciding to enroll, but within a month of training I was ready to resign from Guilford and start a new chapter, inspired largely by my yoga training journey, and a deep feeling in my gut that I wasn’t very happy anymore and needed to get unstuck and fly more free and true somehow. I didn’t know how yet, and after working nonstop pretty much since I was 15, I gifted myself a few months to just live, play, seek, be, and explore what I really wanted next. I visited family in Maine and traveled to see friends in other parts of the country, in between yoga teacher training weekends and North Carolina adventures.
Q. What is your work?
A. I am a yoga teacher, and in a beautifully full-circle kind of way, I now own and manage Greensboro Downtown Yoga! You and Andra were ready for your next adventures, so the studio changed hands and I took on this new role on Feb 1st, 2017, for which I have endless gratitude to you both.
For all my hesitation, I ended up diving head first into teaching yoga after training finished in Oct 2015. You encouraged me to take all the teaching opportunities I could get, and despite sometimes feeling terrified, I try to operate under a “say yes if you don’t have a good reason to say no” policy. I hunted for places to teach yoga, followed any lead I got, and was able to teach and learn at wellness locations and yoga studios all over Greensboro in the time since I became certified. Now I am focusing my energy directly into Greensboro Downtown Yoga, which feels really good after the past year+ of running all over.
Q. What is one project you are excited to be working on right now?
A. Coming right up at Greensboro Downtown Yoga, we are offering a Yin and Flow workshop, a Reiki Circle, Meditation to Conquer Fear and Anxiety, a yoga fundraiser class for Kids Path, the launch of 8 weeks of free yoga at Center City Park, and an Introduction to Kundalini workshop. I’m so excited about all of it! Getting to meet amazing people and collaborate with them to host, plan, or dream up yoga or community wellness related projects makes me love my job so much!
Q. What is one thing you've done recently that's scared you and took courage, but you're glad you did?
A. So many things! For one, it may sound silly but being featured on your blog among such inspiring women is a little intimidating. I experienced feeling shy and nervous about what to say, whether people will think I’m wise, or even old enough to be a wise woman (I’m 27) . As usual, you sweetly encouraged me (and let me stall a tiny bit, thanks). Other things that scared me lately: Leaving my good and secure job for an an open ended “I’ll just follow my heart” kind of plan, becoming a yoga teacher when I’ve always been such an introvert, jumping right into becoming a studio owner, and just recently falling in love with a best friend and starting a relationship with him.
Q. What is the work you most want to be doing and are you doing it? If not why not what's stopping you?
A. Owning a yoga studio is truly a dream come true. Travel feeds my soul, so I really want to lead yoga retreats someday. I’m also pretty intrigued by the idea of becoming a certified yoga therapist, particularly for behavioral health. There are so many directions I want to grow but I just can’t do them all at once. I need more hours in the day!
Q. What would you tell your high school or college self?
A. “It’s all going to work out. I promise. It won’t be easy but it will be grand! You will be amazed and proud of who you will become. Do not doubt yourself or be too practical. Just keeping going and start being kinder to your brave self.”
Q. What's one piece of advice or motto you love and use in your daily life that you would like to share with my sweet readers?
A. Pema Chodron says “Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth,” and for me that often feels very true. In the last 2 years my relationship with fear has really changed. Interestingly, fear almost excites me a little now because I’ve learned it can mean that something amazing is going to happen, if I just move through and toward the fear, one moment/breath at a time. There is still just as much fear and perhaps always will be, but my approach to it has changed. The more I have moved toward fear, the easier that becomes, and now fear is more exhilarating and less paralyzing than it used to be.
Q. What keeps you creating when you don't feel like it?
A. Witnessing the inner beauty of the humans I get to interact with. Whether they feel like they are struggling or shining, when students show up on their yoga mats for the first time or the 10,000th time, and open themselves to learn and grow and be present, I get to witness such depth, kindness, strength and connection in humanity, it feels like the coolest job in the world. If I feel drained or uninspired, I remember how moved and humbled I am by the souls who come to my classes or the studio, and I am filled with desire to create sequences, classes and offerings that could help heal, move, and support my community.
Q. Anything else you'd like to share?
A. If anyone out there is considering a change, I say go for it now or as soon as you can. You might never feel totally ready, but you don’t need to. I used to do a lot of trying to wait until I felt “ready” but it’s been a really good thing to loosen my grip on that expectation and just try from where I am.
Q. What's your favorite yoga pose?
A. Child’s pose. I’m a major introvert but I really put myself out there in some big ways too, which takes a lot of energy. Child’s pose feels like a little turtle shell, where I draw energy inward and let myself rest and restore. It feels so grounding to me.
Q. How do you live a life of abundance?
A. For me abundance has a lot to do with balance. When I am balanced I do not feel that I am lacking in one area, like health, at the expense of another, for example career. With balance, I am able to feel that I have plenty. Looking back, I can see that a chapter of depression in my life aligned with a period where I wasn’t moving my body enough or having enough action and yang energy in my life. That lesson has stayed with me. These days, I work more on my yin side in the ways of slowing and yielding mentally instead of fighting everything so much. By yielding I don’t mean not going after my dreams or standing up for what I think is right, I mean allowing a moment to be what it is, letting what I have be enough, allowing myself to be enough, and having the courage to stop and face and sit with obstacles instead of avoid them as much. From that place of acceptance and greater balance, I’ve become better able to steadily create the change that I used to feel I had to fight for or be frantically running toward. Gratitude for abundance breeds more abundance, so I try to live mindfully and dwell often in gratitude and openness.