Madelyn Cecily is a Yoga Teacher. She decided to embark on a journey to Southeast Asia. A journey all the way across the globe yes, but also a journey within. During her travels she visited six countries. Each city of all these amazing countries had something unique and beautiful to offer- and she found that true for their yoga classes, too. With each class, she was learning more and gaining a deeper understanding of this ancient practice than she ever had back home. Each teacher had their own style and brought a bit of themselves into the classes they led. She was absolutely inspired. While staying in Northern Thailand, she found herself in a long conversation with her yoga teacher that changed her travel path in the best possible way. Afterward, she began searching for teacher training programs. She found a 200 hour YTT through World Yoga Alliance in Chaing Rai, just north of where she was staying. She continued to research WYA and discovered that their focus is on traditional Indian Hatha yoga. She quickly realized this was exactly the training that she wanted and needed. She was taught the Eastern way of yoga, where the practice originated. Each day at Adinath Ashram, she felt her practice deepening by learning the history and philosophy of yoga, proper Sanskrit, and alignment. With this new found knowledge came an invigorated passion and appreciation for yoga. A light had been ignited in her soul.
”I have always known I am meant to help others, by teaching yoga I am finally living my truth.”
~ ॐ ~
Before we start can you share with me some details about you and your path.
My journey to yoga began over 10 years ago when I first went a class as a teenager. I immediately fell in love with the physical aspect of yoga and enjoyed the workout. It wasn’t until it as 16 and I lost one of my best friends that I realized the emotional and spiritual benefit of yoga as well. I remember laying in shavasana and tears just bursting out of my eyes, I was finally able to get this release that I needed. I practiced pretty regularly from there and through college. My senior year in college I got a job with a Nonprofit called Give Back Yoga (check them out!) and after seeing the positive effect yoga had on so many (prisoners, war vets, people with eating disorders) I just knew it was something I was being called to be a part of. (Though at this stage I had no confidence in my ability to stand in front of a class full of people as a teacher) It was while I was backpacking around SE Asia and doing yoga in every city along the way that I started to play with the idea of ~maybe one day I could be a teacher~.
When I was in Thailand there were some girls who had never done yoga but wanted to try it and I decided to give it a go and teach them. In that moment I knew this was my calling, I could feel it in my soul. So I found a YTT in the North of Thailand that fit the bill of what I wanted (Eastern Yoga, Philosophy and History, Sanskrit and Mantra chanting). That is where my life completely changed in the most beautiful ways. I immediately began teaching at a studio as soon as I got back home to Colorado and even ran a yoga Enrichment program for the kids of the school where I was a teacher (even cuter than you can imagine!) I also began my own yoga brand Manifesting Moksha, built a website and started doing my own freelance and private classes.
After 3 years of being back in the US I felt the call to travel again and see how I could bring my practice and teaching of yoga along with me. I got accepted into a Mental Health Program in the South of India as a peer mentor for 3 months and ultimately became the resident yoga teacher for both the volunteers and the mental health patients we were seeing. It was so rewarding and yet again showed me that this is exactly what I am meant to be doing with my life. After my 3 months of work I traveled around the whole of India and taught SO much yoga. I would offer classes at all the hostels in trade for a free place to stay, I ran a yoga retreat in Rishikesh, and I also had the opportunity to teach a yoga program to an elementary school in Mumbai! So, eye opening and incredible to be able to share the healing practice with kids who’s lives are so challenging. While I was out there my guru from Thailand reached out to me and asked if I would like to come stay with him and be his assistant for a 200 hour. I said yes of course! That is where I have spent the last 2 months until I was forced to come home due to the virus, working under my teacher and learning so much about yoga. I started my online Yoga studio in midst of Covid19 and it has really taken off and given me an opportunity to continue my love of teaching and sharing knowledge even in these hard times!
What has been your biggest struggle and your biggest milestone in the practice?
Honestly the biggest milestone as a student of yoga was to get past my ego and accept that not all bodies are the same or are going to be able to bend/twist the same- I used to compare myself and my practice to others until I realized this is my practice and its about the self-growth and self-exploration. As a teacher my biggest milestone has been making this my full-time job (still working towards this goal). You don’t make that much money as a yoga teacher but to me it is not about the money but more about my ability to share and inspire others. Plus, I truly believe that if you follow your heart and your intuition that the Universe will provide 🙂
What’s your favorite yoga pose and why?
That is a HARD question! It changes every time I get on my mat honestly. Right now, I would say Baddha Ardha Matsyendrasana- Bound Half Lord of Fish Pose. (The first photo) I love any twisting asanas as they are chance to “wring out” old, stagnant energy and create space for new vibrant light! The bind feels amazing and is such a good shoulder opener. And I love the story behind the pose and how it got its name. Matsyendra is one of the first students of Lord Shive, the founder of yoga. He was born from fish eggs, so he is kind of like a merman (which I have an affinity for mermaids <3)
What has been the most inspirational moment you’ve experienced as a yoga teacher?
Wow there are so many, that’s why this is such an incredible job, I am inspired daily! One of the most inspirational moments for me I would say would be any time a student shows or tells me there is a particular asana they want to work on, but they can’t quite get it. So, I will focus on that asana in our classes and give them cues and stretches to work up to it and the moment they get it and I see that smile or hear the excitement in their voice ahhh that is a magical moment!
What’s your favorite yoga quote or mantra?
My favorite quote is from a traveling yoga teacher I met in Cambodia at this amazing nonprofit studio (Bante Suray in Kampot) she said to me “That is why they call it yoga practice, not yoga perfect” and it’s really stuck with me since that moment (I even put it on my website!) It’s not about having the perfect form or looking perfect, it is about practicing and practicing and never stopping your practice. Not about the destination but the journey!
What is the single most defining issue facing the global yoga community today?
Well besides not being able to offer in person classes due to COVID19 I would say the biggest issue is misinformation and the Westernization of the traditional Practice. A lot of times the way yoga is taught in the West is a misconstrued version of the true traditional way. My teacher uses the analogy of the game “telephone” for how the practice has changed. It is all based on the same foundation, but a lot of very important details have been lost along the way. A lot of big yoga businesses focus solely on the physical and forget to even teach the mental or spiritual aspects which are essential for personal growth and to reach samadhi which is the goal of yoga.
Do you have any recommended yoga reading?
1) I read and re-read my 200-hour course book almost every day! So, if you have taken your YTT and have your book hold onto it!!
2) Yoga Anatomy books are great for alignment and teaching the benefits for the body!
3) Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras
4) Yoga Mythology by Devdutt Pattanik
What is your dharma, your life mission?
My life mission is to help show others the light that they are. To heal and spread light through teaching yoga to as many humans as I possibly can <3
What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out on their yoga journey?
Congratulations! Do not be too hard on yourself, show yourself love and compassion always and realize that yoga is much more than just when you are on your mat-it is a way of life. I would also suggest starting with the foundational asanas and learn those as to build a strong base before moving on to more advanced asanas. And find a teacher you love and trust, it will make the world of a difference to have them there for guidance along the way 🙂