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5 Health Benefits Of Sweating

Finding Strength Through Movement

2023 Ripple's Year of Reflection

Finding Strength Through Movement

On this international women's day, we are thrilled to share the inspiring journey of our Ripple ambassador, Melody Smith.
Let’s dive in and get to know her better!

A. Who you are, where you are from, add a little background on your work/yoga journey/or other field you are teaching

My name is Melody Smith. I’m a lifelong lover of movement, obsessed with being out in nature, and a mother to one wild and free daughter.
I grew up in the southeastern U.S. in North Georgia in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains as the oldest of 5 children. I would spend all day running around the woods in 100 acres of wildlife sanctuary with my siblings. At about 7 years old my mom put my sister and I in a ballet class, Ballet started my love of movement. I continued to dance 6 days a week through school and went on to dance professionally through college. I would teach dance after my college classes then go straight to rehearsal. Teaching became a real passion and I loved teaching people of all ages, especially beginners. I also worked as an actor and model for just over a decade. Fun fact: I played Kevin Bacon’s girlfriend in the movie “Jayne Mansfield's Car”.
When I was pregnant with my daughter I danced every day. After her birth I was struggling to keep up with the demand of dancing and modeling on no sleep with a new body. I started doing yoga because it was a way to move without the self judgment of remembering what I used to be able to do. I also started an online studio, Ballet 24 on YouTube, where I taught my studio classes online so that people at home like me could still have access to studio quality classes.

Yoga became an integral part of my life not because of the physical practice but because of the way it helped me mentally. Yoga made me a better mother, partner, person. Eager to share my new passion for yoga I completed a teacher training with Authentic Movements and started teaching out of my backyard and the local park. This practice gave me a place to combine my love of nature, philosophy and movement to a much wider range of people.
Now I’m teaching yoga, barre and classical ballet 3 days a week. It’s the perfect amount of sharing my love of this movement while also having enough energy to maintain a personal practice and homeschool my daughter.

B. What is the main style of yoga you are teaching? / OR What are you teaching/instructing?

Right now I’m mainly teaching power vinyasa style yoga. I’m also teaching a barre fitness class that is super high energy, with fun hip hop music. That class is really popular at the club! Everyone says it’s the best booty workout. In addition I have a class that I created as a hybrid of all my favorite classes. It’s called Barreography and we do 30 minutes of classical ballet barre, 15 of yoga and mat Pilates and 15 minutes of choreography. Starting next month I’ll be adding a beginner ballet class as well. I love taking what can be an intimidating practice and making it warm and approachable. Anyone can learn proper technique!

C. What is the main type of yoga, or other forms of practice, you're practicing yourself at the moment? Is it different from what you teach? What is it that you find in this specific kind of practice?

I’m in a kundalini phase in my personal practice right now. I’m on day 24 of a 40 day sadhana chanting the Subagh Kriya every morning before the sun comes up. I’m also trying to be consistent about lifting weights. It doesn’t sing to my soul like dance and yoga, but I love the way I feel afterwards and I really want to continue to build muscle through perimenopause.

D. What are your challenges as a teacher, and what helps you overcome them?

One challenge is that many of my students have been regulars for over a decade. It’s such an honor, but it also forces me to keep things fresh and challenging for them. It’s a challenge to balance who I am and what I love to teach while also trying to keep it new and inventive for both the regulars and myself. I think just like a long term romantic relationship acts as a mirror to learn who you are and who you want to be, a long term teacher/student relationship is the same. We have to grow and evolve together.
The more I read books, take workshops, discover new modalities, the more I have to share with them. I really have to stay in a beginners mind and stay humble as a student myself.

E. What or who inspires you these days and how does it affect your life and practice?

My daughter! She’s a big girl and the way she can move blows my mind! I tried so hard to get her into ballet but she said no. Haha! Breakdancing definitely suits her better and the way she throws herself into the moves with reckless abandon is really inspiring.

F. Share with us an Ah-ha! moment: something that brought in a change, a choice that led you to where you are now

The choice to share my classes online in 2015 changed the whole trajectory of my practice. When I started Ballet 24 I was promptly fired from a studio that I had been managing for almost 11 years. While that hurt, it ended up being the best thing for me professionally and personally. Within the first week my subscriptions had replaced my studio salary and I was like, “Wow. I can actually make this work on my own.”

G. Do you have self-love rituals? What gives you motivation?

The best self love ritual I have is that one day a week I take the whole day and hide in the woods with my family. No plans, no friends, no work. Just being together and recharging. When I first started dating my husband I was working 7 days a week. He asked me to take a Sunday off to hide in the woods and I was hooked. From that one Sunday 14 years ago until now, Sunday’s are sacred and unless I REALLY want to be there, I’ll be hiding in the woods.
While yes, perhaps we are headed to techno-feudalism there is also a huge movement back to indigenous wisdom. I see forest schools, neighbors gardening, CEOs coming to yoga class twice a week and incorporating what they’ve learned into their lives. We can focus on and fortify ourselves, our families and our homes and that does change the future for the better.