Hi Everyone! Today, I would like you to meet Michael Mann. Michael has one of the biggest hearts I know. He’s always supporting and promoting his fellow teachers and if you take his class, you can feel that his heart is right in his work. On top of that, he makes incredible class playlists. Happy reading and feel free to learn more about Michael at http://michaelbmann.com/.
I started practicing yoga at Baptiste during my senior year of college. I could lie and say I “immediately fell in love” with it, but it honestly took me a few classes, a few different teachers, and a little hiatus to decide that this practice was something that I really did click with. And I’m so glad I went back after an initial experience of feeling absolutely beaten up by the heat and rigor that’s typical to that particular style of yoga (which I’ve mostly moved away from in my current practice and teaching). Prior to practicing yoga, I had never really been much of an athlete or exercise fanatic to say the least. Other than dabbling in running and swimming during middle school and high school, I shied away from sports, preferring to bury my nose in a book or listen to records and CDs for hours in my room. But I became enticed and enamored by the combination of personal freedom, physical challenge, and deep relaxation that yoga offered me. It was like the missing ingredient in my rather sedentary, solitary life at that point, and it offered me a reawakening of sorts. I met some pretty awesome people, started volunteering at the studio, and eventually became inspired to begin both a graduate program in Elementary Education and yoga teacher training a couple of years later.
Right as I was finishing up my graduate program, it became clear to me that teaching elementary school was not the best career match for me after all, and I’m so grateful I had my yoga teacher training to fall back on. I entered the training not expecting to teach at all, but after getting my feet wet by teaching a few community classes and receiving the amazing support and encouragement of one of my favorite teachers, Jacqui Bonwell, I decided to make my foray into teaching yoga. It was honestly one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and I’m so happy I chose to go down this path.
While I’ve never actually considered myself a “full time” yoga instructor, it has been my main passion and livelihood for the past five years. I absolutely love the variety, flexibility, and freedom this job offers me; it’s truly a different experience every class and it allows my highly introverted self to interact with so many diverse people who all have something different to share. In addition to teaching a pretty full schedule of classes, I’ve also worked part-time with children for the past five years at an after school program at Countryside School in Newton, which is another form of work that brings me so much joy and allows me a similar kind of creativity and spontaneity as teaching yoga. On any given day, I’ll teach art, yoga, or outdoor games and sports with the kids and just have fun with them in their natural element, free from the structure of schoolwork and curriculum. I also help organize and direct the program’s annual talent show, which highlights the passions and unique skills that make these kids shine.
Most recently, I’ve also tapped deeper into two of my other passions: music and fashion (a.k.a “the things I ‘should’ have studied in college). I published a music blog called “Jukebox Breakdown” (named after a song by my favorite band of all time, Saves The Day) which I update daily with new songs, remixes, album reviews, and content pieces. My musical tastes are insanely eclectic, just like the playlists I use in my yoga classes, so I’ll write about everything from indiepop and hip hop remixes to pop punk and post-hardcore bands. A few months ago I started up a line of t-shirts and apparel called “Forever Strong,” which is still very much in its infancy. I sell the shirts online and also at Charlestown Yoga and Lexington Power Yoga. I wanted to create a brand that’s edgy, bold, and simple, with graphics and words that inspire positivity, but also keep it real. I’ve never been one to sugarcoat things, and I fully embrace my slightly dark, sarcastic edge, so I bring it out just a little in the things I create because it just feels authentic.
Since I work in so many different arenas, there’s no such thing as a “typical day” in my life. I’m honestly more than a little ADD, my crazy schedule is always shifting, and exciting new opportunities always seem to pop up. But I’ll walk you through an average Monday, which oddly is one of my favorite days of the week.
7:30 AM– Wake up, coffee (immediately if not sooner) and breakfast, which is almost always oatmeal, with sliced banana and peanut butter. I may be spontaneous, but in some ways I am a creature of habit… I usually do the Monday crossword puzzle before heading out to teach my 9:30 AM, mostly because it’s the easiest one of the week and makes me feel smarter than I really am.
8:40ish to 9:10ish– sit in traffic to get to my 9:30 AM class. I think many yoga and fitness instructors would agree that traffic and commuting back and forth between studios is one of the more challenging aspects of teaching. But it does allow me to listen to lots of new music (preferably at a pretty high volume) and get ideas for my playlists and blog.
9:30-11AM– teach class at Lexington Power Yoga and chat it up with students and the studio owner before and after class. Grab a second cup of coffee at Peet’s across the street because there are sadly no independent coffeehouses in Lexington. While I like eating healthy and do enjoy my daily green smoothie, I fully admit that I’m a total caffeine junkie.
11:30-2PM– a variety of activities which usually include going for a run (I’m working my way up to a half marathon that I’ll run in October on Prince Edward Island, where some of my relatives live), scouring twitter, soundcloud, and various music websites for new songs and material for my blog, or working on design, merchandising and retail either for my own clothing line or for Lexington Power Yoga, where I manage the retail section.
Somewhere in there I make myself a simple lunch, which is typically a green smoothie and something with my three essential foods, chickpeas, quinoa and kale. Lastly, I make my third cup of coffee before heading out to work with the kids. Told you I was a caffeine junkie…
2:30-6 PM– work at Countryside Children’s Center. The majority of children don’t arrive until 3:30, so I have a little time to plan my art project, check in with the program coordinator and the rest of the team. I’ll teach a 30 minute yoga class to kids from kindergarten through 5th grade, which involves a lot of partner poses, yoga games, and even a little simple acro yoga. The kids also have a lot of downtime, which is essential after such a long day at school, so we’ll play board games, gym games or make creations with paper, markers, and anything else they feel inspired to use.
6:15-7PM– dinner at my parents’ house. They live right near the school, which is awesome. I love spending time with my family.
7:30PM– teach an hour class at Lexington Power Yoga. Hour classes are my faves, and they suit my playful teaching style. The Monday 7:30PM is one of the most fun classes on my schedule. It draws a good sized, energetic crowd who loves to play and be challenged. It’s also the class in which I debut my new playlist for the week.
9PM– one of the challenging things about having such an erratic schedule is planning meals. I honestly have a second dinner more often than not on Monday nights. Not anything huge. Maybe some leftovers, or hummus, cheese, crackers and veggies. Often times a glass of wine as I unwind with Netflix or Amazon Prime. I’m a huge indie movie junkie. I’ll watch anything that’s dark and twisted or satirical. If it stars Jesse Eisenberg or Parker Posey, I have seen it more than once. My not so guilty pleasures are any show centered around vampires, werewolves, or the supernatural. Also, raunchy comedies like South Park and It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.
Bedtime for me is usually around 11:30PM or midnight.