Melanie Lora Meltzer is an award-winning actress, writer, yoga teacher, and mother. Melanie has performed on stages all over Los Angeles and Southern California. She is currently teaching yoga classes online through MyYogaWorks.com.
How did you find yoga? What inspired you to dive deep into the practice and become a yoga teacher? How has your personal yoga practice evolved since you started?
I took my first yoga class in college—it was part of the movement program in the theatre department, where I was majoring. I dove deep because I knew in that first class that this was the first time I had moved my body in a way that connected my mind and emotions to my physicality. As an actor I was really interested in that, but more than that, I knew I needed that as a person.
I started working at Yoga Works as soon as I graduated from college, and once I was there and practicing every day, my practice deepened tremendously. It was Maty Ezraty who really encouraged me to teach—I don’t know if I would have attempted it without her guidance.
The biggest way my practice has evolved is how much less “perfect” it is now. I’m a mom of three young kids; I work as an actress and a teacher; and my time to spend 90 minutes in class six days a week doesn’t exist anymore. I practice at home a lot—I do shorter practices based on what I feel I need that day. I’ve gotten really efficient and trust that any time on the mat is good time on the mat.
As a mother, wife, actress, and yoga teacher how do you stay balanced? What is the most challenging role to maintain calm and peace in?
I have a meditation practice that I do in the mornings and sometimes at night. I write notes on a board in our house to remind me of the spirit I’d like to embody that day—hopefully this can jolt me out of a bad mood or a snappy response. I get on the floor and play with my kids and turn the ringer off my phone. I really really really try to get enough sleep—I’m a miserable person to be around when I’m too tired.
The hardest role to stay peaceful in is a mother! Nothing means more to me than my children, and I’m a perfectionist and can be really hard on myself when I have a parenting moment I’m not happy about. That self-judgement only makes things worse.
Do you ever struggle in your own yoga practice? How? How do you get through it?
Of course. I’ve had injuries that slowed me down for months; I’ve struggled with poses that seemed to come easily to other people. Even now, I can compare myself to other people who have been practicing for x number of years. If I want to I can come down on myself for not being as “good” at certain poses or sequences. But what I come back to is that I am in my practice for me—I practice for more peace, more comfort, more confidence in my body. I practice to center my spirit. I practice to quiet my mind. If those things are happening, my practice is in the right place.
What has been the most significant benefit or gift you have received from yoga?
An ability to get quiet and still quickly. And trust in my body—I didn’t have that before.
What yoga practices and techniques have had the strongest effect on your ability to quickly become quiet and still?
Iyengar yoga: I carry the steadiness I learned there into my flow practice. Pranayama: Focusing on only the breath moving in my body is something I can do anywhere at any time, and it is profoundly effective for me. If I can I get into nature—under the trees and sky or by the waves I feel instantly calmer, more present in my body, and tuned into what’s good.