• {GY} What is your personal reason for starting your yoga practice?

     {Mikala} Initially, my goal for starting my yoga practice was to find a form of exercise that I would commit to and enjoy. For me, the appeal of yoga was the focus on the connection between body, mind and breathe. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Grace Yoga offered a safe and supportive environment not only to improve my physical health but also to find and reconnect with my inner self. I came into the practice during a low and vulnerable time in my life and yoga has allowed me to heal both physical and emotional pain. I have been able to maintain a stronger sense of self thanks to my practice. I consider myself lucky to have started my practice in such a nurturing environment where I felt safe to push my limits and find strength in places I didn’t know I had it.  

    {GY} How does your yoga practice influence your life off the mat? Are there lessons you learn from yoga that you can bring to the rest of your life?

    {Mikala} If you allow it, yoga can influence every area of your life. For me personally, I’ve learned many valuable lessons from my practice at Grace that I am able to apply to my daily life. Yoga has taught me how to stay in the moment, which has benefited my acting craft as well as my daily interactions with others. Danielle recently gave me some advice on using yogic breathing during times of overwhelm and anxiety. Returning to that breath has been incredibly helpful throughout the day to transform any negativity I might be experiencing so that I am able to learn from the experience instead of being caught up in the chaos. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from my practice is to accept myself and situations for what they are at the time, knowing that with each breath there is opportunity to create a new and better moment. 

     {GY} Our theme this month is "Surrender", as someone with a consistent yoga practice, what advice do you have for other students who are looking for some tips on how to "surrender", or ways to develop in their practice of surrender.

    {Mikala} I’ve found surrendering in my practice to be something completely necessary. Once you come to that moment of “I can’t do this,” or “This is too hard,” or the very common “Yeah, right...I’ll never be able to do that,” release that thought and breathe. If you tell yourself you can go a tiny bit further, your body will listen. In order to move through that moment of pain or discomfort, instead of running from it, I take a deep breath and at the very end of the slow exhale I am able to find that moment of surrender and release. Our teachers encourage us to be patient with ourselves which I truly appreciate because for me, it relieves the pressure of doing it right and tells me it is okay to surrender to where I am that day.  In surrendering, you’ll find that you have created more inner space and brought your body into harmony & cooperation with your mind through your breath. You can use that space for whatever will benefit you most, but I love using that space to create as well as cope with the stresses of day to day life. Through surrender you transform and grow. It is extremely empowering to come out of your practice knowing you have brought life and energy into parts of you that were previously blocked, darkened or dormant. 

     {GY} Please tell us a little about yourself: career, family, background and anything else interesting you would like us to know.

     {Mikala} I am now 26 years old and  grew up in the Bay Area where I was raised by my beautiful single mother who was (and still is) a very happy flight attendant. I started theater at age 5 and have always loved expressing myself through art- whether it is poetry, singing, dancing or acting. I am happy to now add yoga to that list. I love that yoga is something you can practice every minute of the day if you choose to- not only is it a physical practice but a lifestyle practice as well- and one that honors all of you (mind, body & soul). I am excited to start a new chapter in my life fueled by self-love and acceptance so it is bittersweet to be leaving Grace Yoga. Dana, the teachers, the staff and  the students have all made such a positive and uplifting impact on me. Thank you to the entire Grace community for creating an environment where one can come to feel, grow and just be!