FEATURED TEACHER OF THE MONTH
Interview by Sarah McElwain
Michelle Brandt is certified in Integral Levels I and II and Accessible Yoga. Drawing inspiration and knowledge from a vast background in dance and physical theater, she is passionate about movement as a means of expression and connection. Michelle studied Droznin movement for actors, an alignment-based system, and spent many years training in classical ballet, the Cecchetti Method, and modern dance. She believes in the profound benefits of Yoga for every body and is honored to share the practice with this community. OMMeesh.com
What is your definition of Yoga?
Alignment and harmony between the body, breath, and mind.
What do you love about Yoga?
My Yoga and meditation practice offers me a soft reset every day. I had heard Yoga teachers through the years say that the body is different every day, but that lesson didn’t truly land on me until I developed my own daily practice. It gives me an opportunity to peer inward and evaluate how I’m feeling and how I choose to work with it. Yoga taught me to meet myself where I am; to be soft with myself but also to recognize that I am in control of my interior life and how I choose to present to the world. I love Yoga because it enables me to identify the best version of myself and show up as her every day.
Why do you teach Yoga?
Yoga has profoundly changed my body, my mind, and the way that I view myself. It is my honor to share it with others with the intention that we are all on the mat to know ourselves more deeply.
What are the particular areas of Yoga you are teaching in now or in which you have created your own, special offerings? What attracted you to those areas?
I have been fortunate to work with New York artists in group and private settings and to develop an offering that serves to connect each person to the creative wisdom within. I believe that expression is the most important aspect of being alive, so this has been a special population for me to work with. Yoga serves to connect us to our creative essence, at the core of our true self. There is art in the wisdom and movement of the practice.
I enjoy working with students who self-identify as artists because they possess a natural curiosity and are open and thoughtful in the way of connecting mind, body, and spirit. That being said, I believe that there is an artist in each of us, and Yoga can connect us to our innate creativity.
What do you hope students will receive from you as a teacher, and what do you hope students will get out of your coming offerings and workshops?
As an instructor, I view myself as the architect of the class. It is my hope that I create an environment where students are empowered to see themselves as the master builder of their own experience. What works on paper, or what works for most, is not always what is best for field conditions. The builder uses her expertise to create the optimal structure using her judgment, the blueprint, and the tools available to her. I strive to champion a safe and inclusive space in every class while extending permission to rest, modify, and move further when the body calls you to do so. I hope that students leave my class with a few more tools in their toolbox. A pranayama practice for anxiety, an asana for a particular ailment—any practical application that inspires a student to engage with his or her Yoga practice outside of the classroom setting. My personal home Yoga practice has been the greatest gift I have ever given to myself, and it is my hope that my classes empower students to take the practice home with them.
Do you have a favorite book or Yoga mat or product that you like, something you sincerely enjoy and wish to share with the teacher sangha?
The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran, has been my favorite book for years. It is an infinite source of wisdom and an exploration of the human condition; I glean something new every time I pick it up.
Ongoing class at IYI: Weekly Sunday free introductory class at 1:15 p.m. It has been my honor to introduce new students to the beautiful system of Integral Yoga, and oftentimes these students are attending their first ever Yoga class. If you have someone in your life who has been talking about wanting to “try Yoga,” please send them my way!
Keep an eye out for me on the schedule. I love to jump in and substitute-teach I, I/II, and II classes.