Pretty, Inspirational: Power Yoga: Stretching Mind and Body

Let’s just agree that we are all busy, and, at times, a little stressed. Personally? I’m a twenty-something young professional who works by day, studies by night, and tries to fit exercise and a few nights out in between. When my yoga instructor tells me to let it all go, I do just that.

Whatever has been on your mind… let it go, Melissa says softly at the beginning of class. With my eyes closed, I breathe slowly and deliberately, releasing thoughts of deadline dates and errands with each exhale. What follows is a 45-minute session of power yoga led by Melissa Caye. I am grateful for these moments on the mat, especially when I can step away from my desk and practice on my lunch break. Yes, on my lunch break.

Melissa has partnered with a couple of organizations in Pittsburgh to bring yoga into conference rooms. High-backed chairs are moved to the edge of the room and replaced with yoga mats in shades of pink, orange, and purple. Melissa supplies instrumental music, yoga flows, and encouragement. Lunch Time Yoga allows for my coworkers and me to get out of our desk chairs and to stretch our bodies and our minds.

Melissa is truly an inspiration. Her classes make me happy (and a little sore the next day), and I continue to practice things I’ve learned during Lunch Time Yoga on and off the mat. I asked Melissa to share some of her insights:

“The change that I continue to see in folks after their first few yoga classes, as well as the transformation in people as they get into a steady practice, is the greatest reward for me as an instructor: yoga truly changes people physically, mentally, and spiritually.”

Power yoga involves traditional yoga postures along with elements of cardio and strength training. Melissa’s classes can be intense – sometimes, I’m still sweating when I get back to my cube. In each and every class, though, we are encouraged to breathe deeply, set up a mantra, or a positive affirmation, and relax in child’s pose or goddess pose should our bodies tell us to do so.

“My job as an instructor is to guide and present opportunities for people to discover what they are capable of, both physically and emotionally, and then get out of the way.”

There are many physical and mental health benefits from practicing yoga.* For me, the appeal of yoga is time spent in thoughtful relaxation. I come back to Melissa’s instruction for grounding oneself in meditation and affirmation often.

“One of the greats gifts I have received from this practice is learning ujjayi (ooh-jy-yee) breathing, or breathing in and out of the nose slowly and deeply, especially when pushed to my edge physically and/or emotionally, on or off my mat. I continue to learn through yoga that “letting go” is the essence of living a peaceful, happy, and uncomplicated life.”

Just as I am about to drift off to sleep at the end of Savasana, or corpse pose, Melissa begins reading from her small journal. At the end of each class, she shares inspirational words that she’s found in books or even written herself. I try to remember them and write them down. One my favorites: “Destiny is not some place you are going. Destiny is where you are.”

One of Melissa’s favorites:“There is a thread from the heart to the lips/Where the secret of life is woven/Words tear the thread/But in silence the secrets speak” – Rumi

Let’s just agree that we are all busy. When you can, step away from your desk. Let go.

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Photo courtesy of Melissa from Whirl magazine

Melissa’s Bio:

“My Yoga journey began over twenty years ago in a small studio in NYC and I am still as passionate today as I was then.  Through my own personal experience both as student and teacher I believe yoga is a lifelong journey and quite possibly a fountain of youth available to everyone. I received my certification in Power Yoga with Amazing Yoga and have completed workshops with South Hills Power Yoga, Claire and Gregor Singleton, Bryan Kest, Natasha Rizopoulos and others. I continue to build and grow in all areas of teaching and personal practice and am honored to share the benefits of yoga through my teaching.

 Currently, I teach/assist classes for UPMC, Heinz Family Foundation, D-Fit Studio, Yoga On Freemont and Salt Power Yoga. RYT,CPR, AED.”

*See Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center. Yoga: Your Home Practice Companion. New York: Dorling Kindersley Limited. 2010.

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