Witty, former journalist. Soccer Mom. Yogini.
You can add eloquent and insightful to the list of words that describe Michelle Marchildon.
She’s the author of “Finding More on the Mat: How I Grew Better, Wiser and Stronger through Yoga“.
For its seven-year anniversary, the studio was hosting weekend workshops with Michelle. Dianne had met her at a yoga seminar out in Colorado and, through circumstance, the two became fast friends. When I heard that Michelle was going to teach, I bought a copy of her book to try and get a feel for her persona. It was a surprising read, a real page turner. I hadn’t been expecting it. She wasn’t just witty and all funny stories. She’s been through stuff (well, I think MM would phrase it another way if you let her…). And her words rang with authenticity, written in a voice that seemed to speak to me as I read them from the page. I don’t want to tell you all the details, but if you’re interested in learning how to live your yoga, this book is a must. Of her many poignant stories, Michelle had one that involved her dad. Without giving it all away, I’ll quote from the movie “Pirates of the Caribbean”…”Aye. Sea turtles.”.
I went to “The Fearless Heart” class on Saturday morning. Full house. Good energy from our local yoga community. Guess the workshop held the night before was a bit more in the challenging style that is common on the West Coast. So I wasn’t really sure what to expect.
And then in walked this petite brunette with a confident smile. Apparently, Michelle is agorophobic but found the gumption to fly all the way from Denver, Colorado to visit us in Canada. It was only a 24 hour trip but she was excited to share her insight and teachings with us. She was using her Fearless Heart!
Michelle got us settled in right away with her story about why it was important to cultivate a Fearless Heart. If you really wanted something bad enough, she said, then that desire will help you overcome any obstacles that may be in your way. Practicing yoga asanas on the mat was one way to work on developing this attitude. After a brief warm-up, Michelle surprised us by leading us into handstand at the wall. The idea here was that it’s sometimes better not to know what you’re about to face. Just follow your heart, throw yourself off the cliff and perhaps be surprised how you can rise to the challenge. I didn’t get into handstand that day but it felt good to try it and see where it would take me.
Michelle led us through more poses, some that I still consider as being a work in progress for me. I’m learning to be ok with stepping outside of my comfort zone, especially when I give myself permission to play, experiment or back off if needed. I did what felt right in my body and enjoyed the practice.
We continued on with shoulder opening poses. With my twitchy left hamstring, it’s only been 3 weeks since I’ve been getting back to the mat. So I was careful to modify and pace myself during this extended practice. I was happily surprised that I could do Urdhva Dhanurasana (or Wheel pose) by the end. I was opening up my own Fearless Heart!