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Get to Know Nappie Award Best Yoga Instructor Finalist Michelle Ryan

By May 3, 2021No Comments

Almost ten years ago in Savannah, Ga., I discovered Bikram Yoga. Upon a co-worker’s suggestion, I tried it in 2011 and have been practicing regularly ever since.

Quite simply, I fell in love with the practice for what it did for my body, mind and spirit. That quickly translated into a desire to become a teacher and share that with others.

Since completing Sterling Hot Yoga Teacher Training (a 200-hour training in original hot yoga) in Summer 2015, I have been certified to teach: Yoga Sculpt (yoga with weights), Yin, Inferno Hot Pilates, Vinyasa, Power Yoga, Chair Yoga, Yoga Nidra, Mindfulness Resilience Training for military and veterans, Gravity Yoga and Breath Coaching! I am now E-RYT 200 certified with nearly 2,000 teaching hours to my credit.

I am the first (and still only) yoga4cancer-trained teacher in Alabama, and prior to COVID-19, I had been teaching regular classes for cancer patients, survivors and caregivers at USA Mitchell Cancer Institute. Last year, I completed a training for Yoga for Nervous System Disorders, and I had been working with an MS patient prior to COVID as well. Last year, I also completed a yoga for traumatic brain injury training offered by the Love Your Brain Foundation

I most recently completed a training for Mindful Resilience for Compassion Fatigue, which helps identify and implement self-care techniques for healthcare professionals, caregivers, first responders, teachers and more to help prevent burnout. Later this year, I will complete Level 1 & 2 Adaptive Yoga training offered through Mind Body Solutions that makes yoga poses accessible to all students regardless of ability.

My goal has always been to seek out and learn from the masters, so I have studied with Bernie Clark, Bryan Kest, Esak Garcia, Ben Sears, Jimmy Barkan, and Scott Lamps and Ida Jo, the head teachers of Ghosh Yoga, and many others. In addition to the hundreds of hours of in-person and online workshops and trainings since Sterling training, I have taught at studios in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Texas and Kentucky. 

For the better part of two years beginning in 2017, I taught for Mike Winter, the owner of Hot Yoga Houston and a graduate of Bikram’s first teacher training in 1994. Mike opened the first original hot yoga school in the state of Texas and is well-known in the yoga community for his high standards and dialogue-based instruction he expects from his teachers. He has trained and coached many teachers and studio owners in his 25-plus-year career, and I consider myself just one of the fortunate ones to have had the opportunity.

In 2018, I was honored to join the Sterling Hot Yoga Teacher Training team to share the philosophy and history of yoga, with an emphasis on the origins of original hot yoga. I have participated in trainings in New Orleans, Huntsville and Arlington, Texas.

When I began practicing, I took 10 classes and signed up for the 60-Day Challenge, a 90-minute class every day for that period! It was the best way to devote myself to the practice right from the start. Though I’m not able to practice every day, I make every effort to show up on my mat as often as I can.

There really is no substitute for me for sweating, stretching and pushing my way through a class alongside the students I teach. I am currently participating in Baron Baptiste’s 40 Days to Personal Revolution, an amazing journey into meditation, self-inquiry, and personal and group yoga practice.

When not studying, practicing or teaching yoga, I put my undergraduate and graduate degrees in journalism to use as a freelance writer and marketing consultant, assisting clients with social media, blogging, website content and more. My Sterling training was just the first step of a continual journey, and I believe that is evidenced by my ongoing commitment to learning and growing as a teacher.

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