What yoga teacher and filmmaker Mel Mach can teach you about living your wildest dreams

May 23, 2023 0 Comments

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“Yoga was really the only thing that made me feel at home and at peace,” says Mel Ma from the front seat of her car. A bright California morning behind her as she explains the clarity and stability her practice brought her as she transitioned from professional dancer to yoga teacher, mentor and director.

Her early years of yoga

Like many of us, Mah began practicing yoga during times of personal turbulence. Born and raised in Toronto, Ma moved to Los Angeles in 2011 to pursue a career as a dancer. She was estranged from family and friends, barely out of adolescence, when she was learning to navigate the entertainment industry, getting used to a completely different country.

It was a difficult time. “Most of my friends are still in college, and I’m here in Los Angeles paying my bills and auditioning, and it’s been really emotional,” Meh says.

It was during this transition that she found her yoga practice, which eventually became her path forward. “I doubted whether I had made the right decision,” she says. “Yoga was what kept me focused on my path and allowed me to believe that challenges exist for a reason. They taught me something.”

Ma sees this as his turning point. At the suggestion of a friend and mentor, Mah decided to take yoga teacher training through CorePower Yoga. She doubted whether she would teach until she was asked to start a yoga program at the Millennium Dance Complex shortly after graduating. It was during his early years teaching in the attic of an old studio on Ventura Boulevard that Mach saw the profound effect yoga had on others.

“I remember one time in a class of three, one person came up to me with tears in her eyes, hugged me tightly and said she had never felt anything like this before,” says Ma. “The experience gave me goosebumps.” It was the first time she felt, “Wow, like we can really help people with this.”

It was that moment of clarity early in her teaching career that led her to want to learn more about the philosophy and what she calls the “spiritual depths of yoga.” Based on mindfulness, self-discovery, and personal experience, her teachings advocate an unwavering commitment to personal growth and inspiring others.

“I really have always stayed true to this: the best teachers are the best students. So I am constantly practicing, learning, studying, reading and doing my best to be a student so that I can spread as much information as possible to other people through my teachings,” she says. “I never consider myself a superior figure or an authority. I’m on the same wavelength as you. I talk to you, you talk to me. It’s an exchange.”

For Mah, the practice of teaching is as educational as the study of yoga. “I think the beautiful thing about teaching is that you learn a lot about yourself as you teach,” she says. “Especially when I was in my twenties, teaching was like therapy for me. You are drawn from your own life. This is your inspiration.”

Advanced approach to yoga

Mah’s commitment to continuous growth and learning is reflected in her understanding of yoga as a path to self-discovery. She continues to teach what she knows. During her yoga experience, she toured as a dancer with pop stars including Alicia Keys, Nicki Minaj, Justin Bieber, Britney Spears and Katy Perry. She attributes all this to mindfulness.

In 2016, Mah founded You Got This, Girl!, a company focused on empowering women through mindfulness, yoga, and community. “After I achieved my huge dream, which was to dance on the world tour for Janet Jackson, I literally thought, ‘I want every woman to feel like, ‘I literally made this dream come true,'” she says. “That’s the basis of all my work with You Got This, Girl – to encourage women to believe that their wildest dreams are, in fact, possible.”

Mahl’s mission is to inspire women to find their purpose and build self-confidence. She conducts workshops, training programs, and one-on-one coaching, emphasizing the belief that women can achieve the life they want, and that it can happen through mindfulness practices.

She is grateful that she was raised by very strong women, including her mother. “I remember when I was younger she would tell me, ‘You can do anything you want.’ It wasn’t until I got older that I thought, “Oh, not all women have been taught to think this way by the society we live in.”

Ma encourages her students to find silence, embrace the present moment, and tap into their authentic truth. By doing this, they can connect with their inner joy, intuition and positive qualities, leading to fulfilling moments as they strive for a fulfilling life.

Her current teachings

Similarly, Ma credits yoga with guiding her to her next creative pursuit: telling stories through filmmaking. Drawing parallels between teaching and directing, Ma emphasizes the importance of using one’s voice, holding space, and channeling energy in both practices.

“Dancers just can’t do that. You follow someone’s instructions, you are someone’s understudy. I just saw how it was no longer consistent with who I was as I grew as a soul,” Mach says.

Once again, her commitment to authenticity was rewarded. Her award-winning short film Dear Mom was released in 2021 and quickly gained recognition. The storyline follows the relationship between a woman who unexpectedly finds out she is pregnant and reaches out to her estranged mother.

“Teaching yoga actually set me on a whole new path, which is what I’m teaching now that I’m a coach,” Mach explains. “These practices will literally keep you on the path you’re supposed to be on, which can mean your whole life has to change. But after that transition period, you find yourself in a place where you think, “This is perfect.” This is exactly what I want to do.”

During her Mah transitions, her yoga experience continued to grow. In 2019, she traveled to Bali and studied tantric yoga, which she describes as “much more meditation-focused.” This experience forced her to change her approach to learning.

Mach’s current approach helps others slow down their minds enough to calm down and remember who they really are. “In this place of truth and stillness, you remember that we all have a purpose and that you have different gifts to share with the world,” she says.

While we tend to think of our purpose as a career, Mach believes that purpose is actually an entity. If you focus on it mindfully, she says, then it naturally manifests itself in every area of ​​your life. And inevitably, it leads you to what you are meant to do and share with others.

Mah and the Calm program recently launched Daily Move, a short, gentle and accessible movement practice. The 5-7 minute videos are designed to help people relax and focus and can be incorporated into any part of the day. Since the release of the series in January, the practices have been watched more than a million times.

This is another outlet for the revolution of the conscious Mah movement. “Everything can be solved in presence, and that’s the real power of yoga,” Mach says. “When we put aside the past and the future and return to the present, all the answers are there. All the satisfaction, joy, peace, intuition and positive qualities we seek are found in the now. So, living a full life is much easier than we think.”

Through her dedication to personal growth, her focus on women’s empowerment, and her belief in the transformative power of mindfulness, Mach continues to inspire others to be their most authentic selves, achieve their desires, and find purpose in every moment.

Work out with Mel Mach this Wednesday, May 24th at noon EST/9am PT as she guides you through a Daily Move mindful movement practice similar to the one she shares on the Calm app in celebration of Mental Health Month me and AAPI Heritage Month Join us on Yoga Journal’s Instagram page.

About our contributor

Sierra is a writer, yogi, and music lover based in the Pacific Northwest. She has been practicing yoga for almost ten years and received her certification in 2018. She writes and teaches all about connection: the connection to the body, nature, and the universal love that holds us together. She is also the author of Your Year of Magic, a lunar magick journal and workbook for witches.

For free yoga and witchcraft wisdom, find Sierra at thelocalmystic.com, on Instagram @thelocalmystic and on YouTube.

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