A meeting with Mikaila - a yoga and meditation teacher from New York City - was planned, and the outcome turned out to be unexpected! Last year Zenagoy sponsored its first Instagram yoga challenge #PretzelPoses2 and Mikaila was selected as a winner. Since we (Zenagoy founders) were planning our trip to NYC for the Christmas break, we decided to bring the present to the winner ourselves and take the opportunity to learn more about Mikaila’s path to Yoga and Meditation. Before you raise the question “how come Mikaila became a ZENAGOY Ambassador after just one meeting”, let us spoil the end of the story by telling you that we didn’t see it coming either! Why? The answer is hidden in the interview!
Q: Mikaila, how did Yoga find it’s way into your Life and what impact has it had on your Life? Who were you before you started practicing and how have you changed?
A: Yoga found its way into my life after a knee injury halted my daily running ritual. Practicing asana helped relieve the strain I would otherwise feel by regular exercise.
After surviving the tragedy of September 11, I stopped my yoga practice due to the trauma associated with that day. What I realized after returning to my mat was the incredible benefit of yoga and meditation for ongoing healing.
Q: Can you remember the moment when you decided to become a yoga and meditation teacher?
A: While on a holiday with friends, I demonstrated how to come into a back-bending posture. My friend said, “You should totally become a teacher.” I did not take her seriously, but others voiced the same opinion. A month later I enrolled to become a yoga instructor.
I did not know I would be a meditation teacher until the day I graduated from the yoga teacher training, when my teacher encouraged me to add meditation to my yoga classes.
Q: What makes a good yoga and meditation teacher?
A: I believe what makes a good yoga and meditation teacher is one that leads the student mindfully without judgment, teaches what they know, and offers karma classes as part of selfless service.
Q: What has been your biggest milestone so far in yoga practice?
A: I initially thought that the biggest milestone in my yoga practice was finding the physical strength to do arm balancing poses. My realization came when the happiness of the achievement did not come from the pose, but the detachment from comparing myself to others.
Q: What is your opinion about social media, like Instagram, shaping the image of yoga? Does it contribute or does is damage?
A: While social media is a wonderful way to connect with like-minded individuals, the thought that yoga is solely about the physical practice is disheartening. The science of yoga involves ahimsa or non-violence to oneself or others, and when I hear people speak of yoga as only for those with lean, fit bodies is not the truth. We can change the world by changing our view of the world and showing up authentically in our practice.
Q: You were the first one to contact ZENAGOY team and ask whether you could become their Ambassador. Can you tell us more why you made this decision?
A: After having the chance to meet the Zenagoy team in person, I came to realize how their passion and energy towards saving the environment resonated so deeply with my purpose. To be an ambassador for the brand would give me the opportunity to share that common thread with the world, and share the awareness that we can indeed save the planet.
The message behind Zenagoy's products help me be more mindful of my yogic path, and every time I roll out my mat I am reminded of how we can make a difference - not only in the yoga community but society as a whole. It is not just a mat that help sustain a healthy planet, but any other gear that yogis use in their practice.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out on their yoga and meditation journey?
A: The advice I give to those who are starting out in yoga is that it is one’s own practice, see it as a journey of Self, and never give up.
Q: What are your favourite books and why?
A: My favourite books are The Bhagavad Gita and “Zen Miracles” by Brenda Shoshana. The Bhagavad Gita changed my view of how I see myself and how I communicate with others. “Zen Miracles” helped improve my meditation practice and understand the practice of Zen Buddhism.
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