Story

“Smile, breathe, go slowly.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Hola! I’m Michelle Margaret, a writer, yogi and the creator of Yoga Freedom. Yoga has saved my life 10,000 times, or maybe for 10,000 lifetimes. Thanks to a dedicated practice of yoga and mindfulness, I’ve overcome “mental illness” in the forms of anxiety, depression and mania. I’m now living my dream. I’m (in no particular order) a mother; partner; writer, editor, and translator; teacher; and leader.

I was born on May 30, 1980. Gemini sun with Libra rising and Sagittarius moon, 6 Kej (Mayan calendar), and Metal Monkey (Chinese/Tibetan astrology). Growing up in Round Rock, Texas, I stumbled upon yoga at age 13 and was immediately hooked.

In my early 20s, I earned my 200-hour hatha yoga certification at Yoga Yoga in Austin in May 2002.

In 2003, I moved to California and started practicing zen meditation in the San Francisco Bay area. I landed a job at Google and six weeks later was fired. I then launched my entrepreneurial venture, Yoga Freedom, which ultimately resulted in me teaching something unsustainable like 11 classes a week at gyms, fitness centers, and yoga studios across the Bay area, alongside substitute teaching and many other odd jobs.

In 2004, I returned to Texas, to make a long story short, and in 2005 had a nervous breakdown slash manic episode slash psychotic break and was committed to the psych ward for 10 days, a month before I turned 25. During the first five, I had to be tranquilized multiple times for breaking all the rules. Then I realized i needed to be on my best behavior to get out another (hellish) five days later.

I got well, became a bilingual third-grade teacher, bought a house in south Austin, had a cherished community of family and friends.

In August 2009 I moved to Guatemala City with my teacup Chihuahua, Lucy, where I worked as a middle and high school teacher for three years. I also started co-leading weekend yoga retreats with a yoga friend.

Since June 2012, I’ve lived with my partner and daughter on gorgeous Lake Atitlan in the Guatemalan highlands. We landed in Panajachel initially and in 2015 moved to the woods across the lake.

Since 2015, I’ve worked at Villa Sumaya, a splendid retreat center near Santa Cruz La Laguna. I’ve been blessed to work in the reservations office, as a yoga instructor, interpreter of Mayan fire ceremonies, and leader of small group and personal retreats.

My yoga style incorporates hatha, dharma, kundalini, slow flow (vinyasa) and yin yoga; chakra energies; pranayama (breathing practices); dharma (Buddhist teachings); mindfulness; writing practice (stream of consciousness); vulnerability; poetry and laughter.

Here are a few links to learn more about me:

May we be free.

May we shine our light from within.

May we be present, peaceful, loving, kind, and compassionate.

Yoga practice encompasses everything. Sit, stand, walk, talk. Cook, eat, swim, dance, laugh. Write, paint, sculpt, create. Chop wood, carry water.

Yoga is the cultivation of gratitude. Slowing down. Finding the balance between stillness and noise.

What we have is this moment, and nothing more is needed. We can use this moment in so many ways.

What is Yoga Freedom?

Yoga is not bound to a single lineage or guru. Yoga has no prerequisites, requires no props or accessories. Yoga is practiced everywhere, all the time. Yoga is the connection to breath, body, heart-mind.

Learn yoga with books, online classes, offline classes, whatever works. Yoga encompasses a lot. Yoga is for everyone who strives to be mindful, present and compassionate.

Mission

Yoga Freedom seeks to inspire people to live from the heart and be of benefit to Mother Earth and all beings.

Vision

Imagine there’s no heaven, it’s easy if you try. Imagine all the people living for today.

Philosophy

Yoga isn’t a lifestyle; it’s life! Yoga is everywhere, all the time.

Yoga is the connection to our breath, bodies, and heart-minds.

Yoga helps us cultivate gratitude just because. Every day is a good day — even bad days, even the “worst” days — because each moment is a new chance to be here and love and grow and hold on and let go.

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A Brief History of Yoga Freedom

Austin, TX, USA: Established in 2002
Palo Alto, CA: 2003-2004
Austin: 2005-2009
Guatemala City: 2010-2011
Lake Atitlan, Guatemala: 2012 to the present moment!

2 thoughts on “Story

  1. I believe in one God. I believe He created everything and everyone in the world including Yoga and the Mayans. People are given free will to choose how they live their lives. Mayans are not given a choice since they probably do not know about other religions and places. They are not as fortunate as you who have been throughout your entire life given many, many opportunities in life. Maybe too many? Someone who is Christian and knows there is one God has the choice to reject God and the Truth.To take part in paganism is like taking a million steps backward. Early cultures had many gods but they are no longer around. These Mayan folks can believe there are many gods and have interesting rituals and calendars or whatever and that’s fine. NEWS FLASH You are not Mayan. You are a Christian. So start acting like one. Stop offending Our Lord Jesus Christ who died for you and all of us including the Mayans. They share their religion with you and it is new and interesting.Why not share your Christianity with them? Do not forget who you are and where you came from and most of all do not forget the One who gave you your life. He will never forget you Michelle and He loves you more than anyone in the world could ever love you. He is merciful and always wants His lost ones to come back home.I hope you eventually choose the one true God who is Love.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Mom. Actually, sadly, most modern day Mayans are Christians — either Catholic or Evangelical — due to the Spanish colonization that began five hundred years ago in which their ancient “pagan” ways were stamped out through fear mongering and genocide. I do not think I am Mayan. I happen to live in the Mayan highlands of Guatemala and have made it my home, hence have begun to study some of the Mayan calendar. I am neither Christian nor Catholic. Just because my parents are and chose to have me baptized as an infant does not make me so. As soon as I was old enough [ten years old!] to decide, I chose not to participate in organized religion. It intuitively felt wrong to me. I am not Buddhist either, though I have studied Buddhist teachings and meditation techniques because they resonate with me, as does yoga. You are free to believe what you want to believe, and I’m glad that you feel so comforted and happy with your faith. I believe that the Bible was written by humans, the church was created to control and collect money from its followers, God is beyond our understanding, and Jesus was a Jew and a great prophet. I do not believe that there is only one way to love, truth and light.

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