Off the Mat with MJ Miller
Off the Mat with MJ Miller:
We caught up with yoga teacher MJ Miller off the yoga mat for a little interview to learn more about this vibrant and experienced teacher with quite a creative side.
TYS: What are your yoga specialties or areas of interest? What are your yoga classes like?
MJ: My specialties/areas of interests have evolved as I evolve as both a student and an instructor. When I first started instructing I instructed trauma-informed classes and classes to beginners. I am very grateful for this as I was able to hone in my skills as an instructor and become both specific and concise early on. I then moved into instructing fitness classes (megaformer and cycle) and started to instruct faster, more movement-based modalities in the yoga studio. I am currently coming back to the start and slowing things down once again and am falling in love with the Iyengar teachings. I feel blessed that I’ve been able to instruct both a lot of different modalities and a lot of different students. This has better equipped me to instruct classes that will best benefit the students who show up to any given class.
TYS: What kind of students would you recommend taking your class? What kinds of people can you help?
MJ: Everyone. Yoga is for everybody. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned practitioner, every time you come to your mat is a chance to start over again, to be curious, and then to fall back in-tune with you, your needs, and your breath. I strive to teach classes that are accessible for the beginner while providing areas to dive deeper for the seasoned yogi.
TYS: What have you learned personally through your own yoga and meditation over the years? Have you overcome certain obstacles, healed certain injuries or emotional wounds, and grown as a person in specific ways?
MJ: My mother was a yoga instructor and I started practicing when I was nine years old and would attend her classes when she taught. At first, I just thought it was fun and idolized my mom so naturally wanted to do what she was doing. Throughout my teenage years yoga became my therapy. It became my one safe place that I was able to get away from my thoughts. I believe yoga saved me. I was able to work through an eating disorder through my practice and dedication to facing the things I didn’t want to face. Now, yoga still is my therapy and safe place. I am always learning, always evolving, and strive to always stay curious. The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know.
TYS: What’s your current favorite asana?
MJ: Supported Backbends and hip openers of any and all variations. In a world where many tend to close off and in, opening up always feels so wonderful and is always necessary!
TYS: What is your yoga soundtrack comprised of?
MJ: A mix depending on the style of class. I generally enjoy playing music that will enable the student to drop into their practice. I tend to choose songs that don’t have lot of words but are instrumental or mantra-based. When instructing the hot series, no music at all. Your breath becomes the music and without the added noise oftentimes you’re able to better notice your breath and breathing patterns throughout postures.
TYS: What would you do if you weren’t a yoga teacher OR what’s your other job?
MJ: I am very fortunate that yoga is my main job. When not at the studio, I am a photographer. I was an art major and have always loved photography. It, like yoga, gives you a tool to drop into pure presence. Photography is a meditation for me and allows me to capture a portion of the moments that make up our lives.
TYS: What’s your favorite place in Jackson Hole?
MJ: My home. My boyfriend, pup, and I all live in a little cabin in East Jackson. Although small, it’s become a gathering place for friends, a hotel for family, and a little sanctuary for us.
What other activities do you partake in besides yoga?
MJ: I will forever be one who tries everything, but yoga has been my constant. Living in Jackson, I’m very fortunate to have the ability/accessibility to many outdoor activities and try to take advantage the best I can. We have a very passionate community and it’s very inspiring to be here and soak it all up!
What’s your favorite ski run/hike/walk/run, etc. in Jackson Hole?
MJ: Cache Creek is a favorite, it’s close-by, accessible, and provides a mini getaway for the pup. Cache Creek is more of a common everyday walk that you can make as long or short as needed and fits in your schedule.
Can you recall a special yoga class or workshop that you’ve attended that stands out to you and why?
MJ: My trainings at the Shala. They’ve deeply inspired the way I instruct and my love for the Iyengar approach. There’s something so special about the utilization of props and their ability to get you deeper into postures in a more mindful and conscious way.
What three things are you most grateful for?
MJ: My health, my family/friends, and my privilege. I am just so grateful for this life and am constantly in awe of its beauty.
What is something surprising about you that someone might not expect?
MJ: I can’t snap or whistle!
What was it that made you fall in love with yoga?
MJ: The continual applicability no matter where I am in my life is what I love about it. It’s a process and a practice.
Is there a pose that you used to dislike that you now love?
MJ: Hmm…probably heart openers. They used to (and sometimes still do) stir up a lot in me, but I’m learning to approach life in a more open way and try to practice them often.
If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice about your relationship to your yoga practice, what would it be?
MJ: It’s a process, trust it and be open.
Learn more about MJ Miller at her bio here.
Experience a Yoga Class with MJ Miller
Teton Yoga Shala
3510 N. Lake Creek Dr.
Wilson, Wyoming 83014-0151
info at tetonyoga.com
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