Miya Chase - Opening the Door to the Spiritual Side of Yoga
Interviewed by Tracey Miller
Miya Chase completed her 500-hour training and is an instructor at YogaLife Institute. She is married and lives in Kensington, New Hampshire with her husband and 6-year-old son.
When Miya's roommate came home to their California apartment one day with a VCR tape and asked her if she wanted to learn yoga, she said, "Sure, why not?" The two started practicing power yoga in front of the TV wearing jean shorts and t-shirts from the local thrift store.
At the time, yoga was merely exercise for Miya. She practiced power yoga at home until she could afford classes then went to a studio so she could get feedback from an instructor.
Yoga continued to be part of her life for many years. When she moved back east she enrolled in a teacher training program at a studio in Dover. "It exposed me to many varieties of yoga," she said.
She hadn't planned to teach, but when she started taking classes at a studio in North Hampton, a friend and mentor encouraged her to become an instructor. "I was nervous. We all don't think we have it in us to become an instructor," she said. But with her friend's encouragement, she took a leap of faith and started teaching.
For Miya, yoga has always been about strength and power. When she attended her first class at Blue Moon Yoga (now YogaLife Institute), she definitely noticed the slower, gentler, pace and focus on philosophy and self introspection. But she initially resisted the gentler yoga and thought that the vigorous yoga was a better outlet for her. She wasn't ready for a deeper level of yoga.
At the time Miya was struggling with fertility issues and she was angry at her body. "It brought up some issues for me that I wasn't ready to deal with. So I put it on the back burner." She continued to focus on the physical aspect of yoga, but not the spiritual.
But, she eventually returned to YogaLife for the emotional support and to reconnect with her body. "It was a supportive environment," she said.
She needed to face up to her burdens, face her fears and practice self forgiveness. "I learned that yoga goes deeper than the physical asana practice." she said. "We store what we don't want to deal with in our bodies, and certain poses create emotional releases."
It took her a few years before she fully opened the door to the spiritual aspect of yoga, but realized that when she started doing the work, and really tuning into her body, she felt better. She was ready for the healing yoga can offer.
Miya adopted her son in 2009 and took a break from teaching for a few years to focus on her new family. She went back to YogaLife to continue her journey inward. "I still needed to work on self forgiveness and acceptance. Things happen the way they are supposed to. It doesn't always seem like a gift at the time, but I wouldn't do anything differently." The classes at YogaLife helped Miya reconnect with her spirituality and let go of her "emotional overload."
Miya also believes that persevering through life's greatest challenges yields the greatest rewards. "My son is my greatest gift. Although the sequence of events that brought us together was difficult, I wouldn't change a thing. He is a greater blessing than I could have imagined. It reminds me to have faith during the hard times. My experience also gifted me with compassion. I truly empathize with others who are struggling with their own challenges," she said.
Lisa Rockenmacher, an instructor at YogaLife encouraged her to sign up for the two-year 300-hour course at YogaLife. After Miya finished the program, Lisa said, "So when are you going to teach?"
"I'm not a terribly enlightened person, how am I going to teach here?!" Lisa laughed and said, "None of us are! That's part of what makes a great teacher, humility. We are all struggling. We all practice, because our life is a work in progress."
Miya didn't think she was ready, but decided she needed to "get over herself." "Teaching forced me to get out of my box," she said.
Miya recalled what her mom had always told her. "If you had it all figured out, you wouldn't have to be here anymore. Your earth walk would be through."
"We're all figuring it out together," she said. "We just have to open the door."
Miya still enjoys a more vigorous asana practice but now incorporates yoga philosophy to nourish her mind and spirit as well as her body. She is grateful to all her teachers for their different styles and approaches to yoga, for providing support and encouragement, and for believing in her.
She started teaching at YogaLife in January. "After teaching for several months, I am more at ease. I realize it is not my responsibility to hold all the answers. Each of us has our own Truth. The answers come from within. I think my job as an instructor is to provide people an opportunity to be a part of a supportive community so they can discover the answers that are within themselves."
Miya teaches a Yoga II class on Friday mornings at 9:30 am.