Melissa Rios is our May Teacher of the Month! You can find her teaching our Bilingual classes by donation on Saturdays at 12:30pm. Sign up for her classes here.
A bit more about Melissa:
Born and raised in the beautiful Costa Rica, Meli was introduced to yoga practice over 13 years ago. She started to love yoga so much that she decided to take her E-RYT 200 at Yoga to the People. She is also certified for Kids Yoga with Cosmic Kids Yoga & ChildLight Yoga. Meli’s yoga classes are fun and challenging, where she can guide the students to follow the asanas at the same time as they connect with their energy. Her classes are taught in a flow Vinyasa style, where the students can modify the asanas if needed.
Nacida y criada de Costa Rica, un país hermoso, Meli conoció la práctica del yoga hace 13 años. Después de un tiempo le encanto la práctica y decidió tomar el curso de E-RYT 200 en Yoga to the People y también se graduó de yoga para niños con Cosmic Kids Yoga & ChildLight Yoga. Las clases de Meli son divertidas pero con poco de reto, a donde ella guía a los estudiantes en diferentes posturas pero al mismo tiempo les enseña a concertarse con su propia energía. Las clases que enseña es una secuencia de Vinyasa, donde los estudiantes pueden modificar cualquier postura.
Hi there, Melissa! Tell me a bit about yourself, where you’re from….
Hi, Meli here! I am from the tropics of Costa Rica, moved to NYC 14 years ago and I love it here. I am blessed to be a kids and adults yoga teacher. I love going to different events, festivals and concerts and that’s why I love NYC…we have it all here.
How did you get into yoga?
My yoga story started about 8 years ago at home. Yes, I was someone who practice at home, because I didn’t want to go to a studio without being able to touch my toes, but I found out that going to a yoga studio helped me in the asanas and more important, to be part of a community. That’s why I love Bread and Yoga — it is in my neighborhood, where the community is beautiful and I always feel so welcomed here.
What do you love most about being a part of the Bread and Yoga community?
I love being part of the Bread and Yoga team, but what I love the most is that I teach Bilingual yoga classes. I love being able to speak Spanglish and knowing that a lot of the students will understand me. It is special to me, because I know that I can go to the students individually and talk to them in Spanish…we’re able to connect with our roots, at the same time practicing yoga.
What makes your approach different in class? I know you’re a vegan. How does that come into play?
If you have come to my classes, you know that I always talk about how we have to be kind to all sentient beings, how we have to practice Ahimsa on and off of the mat. Being vegan is something I learned in my yoga journey. Being a Yogini for me, it is not only practicing asanas on the mat, but being compassionate and seeing myself as if I was everything else. Being vegan is so important for me, because I don’t want to be part of others suffering. I have a choice to eat a plant based diet and that’s what I chose. I should take care of our own body and don’t bring suffering in to it.
What do you try to bring to your classes?
My classes are always fun and challenging at the same time. Our bodies are able to do so much and it isn’t until we try it that we find out what are we able to do. So, it is a class where we can focus on different asanas and we can hold them for a long time, focusing on the breath and mind. I give modifications for each asana, from a beginner to an advanced student and everyone can try the asana. So we have a collective energy in the specific asana. Inversions, back bends and hip openings are a big part of my class and I can say everyone loves them.
What has yoga taught you about your mind and body, and by extension, life?
As I said before, I am thankful I have yoga in my life. I have learned that my body is capable to do anything I want, I have learned that I am really afraid to do so many asanas, but that my mind can change these feelings to positive ones and try these asanas. Yoga has saved my life. I went through such a bad depression a few years ago…it is because of practicing yoga every day and crying in almost all the classes that I was able to release so much feeling and tension in my body and I was able to get out from that black space I was in.
Yoga has been teaching me so much, but the best lesson is that I am part of everyone and everyone is part of me. That’s why being KIND to every sentient being is so important for me. I am not saying that it is easy, I am saying that it is a practice and I try to do my best every day, every minute.
At the end of each yoga class, I teach a Dharma lesson and usually this comes from my teachers. I am an extension of them. I know that it took me years to understand what is being a Yogini, but I always said if one student changes or adds something good to their lifestyle, I am doing my job. I always finish my classes with “yoga is self-realization and being kind, loving and compassionate to all sentient beings”.
What’s your favorite pose?
My favorite asana is savasana. When I learned that I could feel my cells and connect with my organs in this pose, it was amazing.
How do you stay balanced and joyful living in NYC?
Being balanced in a busy place like NYC sometimes it isn’t easy, but living in the present moment and enjoying the crowdedness makes it beautiful.
That’s beautiful. Where can we find you on the interwebs?
Follow me @flowermoonmeli on Instagram and I have a Spanish blog flowermoonmeli.com