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Teacher Feature: Melissa Porricelli

What year did you go to training?  Why did you go?

I finally went to training in the fall of 2008.  I started practicing Bikram in 2002 and knew after a few short months of practicing that I wanted to go to training.  I loved the yoga so much and as teachers would talk about the training I knew that it was something I had to experience.  The thought of practicing this yoga 2 times a day and learning from senior teachers that have been a part of the series since as early as the 70s sounded so exciting.  I did NOT know however that I wanted to be a teacher.  I had a full time job that I really enjoyed but I thought it would be a great adventure and learning experience.  After going through 9 weeks of the intensive training I was so inspired that I knew I wanted to share this yoga with the world.  When I returned to NY I taught full time for a few months.  It was an amazing experience however I eventually returned to my job in the medical field and balanced my time between that and teaching 4 classes a week.  I luckily still maintain a daily practice which I know helps motivate me to inspire others the way I was first inspired!

 What is your favorite thing about being a Bikram Instructor?

My favorite thing about being a Bikram instructor is seeing the positive changes it brings to so many people’s lives.  Whether is curing chronic back and knee pains, changing bodies and weight loss, healing old injuries (both mental and physical), or simply helping people feel better it always still makes me so happy when I see a student first realize that change.  It is an amazing feeling when a student comes up to me and tells me how Bikram has helped them.  Over the past 8 years of teaching at BYNYC I have witnessed countless examples of this change.  I love being just a small part of this amazing community.

Tell us more about your own practice.  Which posture is most challenging for you and how do you get through it?

The most challenging part of class for me is definitely the spine strengthening series.  Physically, it is not that bad… but mentally, I really struggle with it.  I know it is an integral part of class and a healthy strong spine is imperative but those 5 to 10 minutes seem to last forever.  I used to skip a set of one of those postures here and there, or even tune out, but that only seemed to make it worse.  What has helped me tremendously is focusing on just the task at hand.  Listening very carefully to the set up and hyper focusing on everything I am doing allowed me to “tune in” to the posture even if I was exhausted.  I would tell myself, ‘just set it up and see what you can do’.  When I focused this way, I realized that my spine strengthening postures greatly improved and the entire series was over in no time at all.  My best advice to anyone struggling with any part of class is to take away the pressure of doing it “perfectly” and tackle it head on by focusing on the set up, the alignment, and even the benefits.  When you start approaching a posture or part of class this way, not only does it go by much faster, but before you know it, it may be your favorite part of class!

Outside of yoga, what projects are you involved with?  What do you do for fun?

Anyone who knows me well knows that one of my favorite things to do (no matter where I am) is start my day with Bikram.  Outside of yoga however, I love all sports and activities.  I still love to run every week.  I love to snowboard (despite how much I detest being cold).  I also love the beach and the ocean (which is why it is hard to find me anywhere else in the summer). 

As far as special projects go, one of the things I am most proud of is my volunteer work at the VA and with nursing homes.  There, I teach yoga to veterans and senior citizens.   Although the series is obviously modified it is inspiring to see what this community can do and extremely rewarding to be a part of! 

Any final words? 

Just get to class!  It does not matter how long you have taken off, how “out of shape” you think you might be, how much you have going on, or how badly you may feel… Just get here!  You always feel better after the 90 minutes.  I have been fortunate enough to have been practicing for almost 15 years.  Although I have practiced all around the world I could not imagine my life without Bikram Yoga NYC!  Not only are the classes amazing, the teachers the best, and the facilities great, but the community at the studios is inspiring.  Miracles certainly do not happen overnight, but if you can just get to class you will be well on your way!