Everyday Goddesses is a series of posts I’ll be writing here, profiling women in my life who embody strength in everything they do- on and off the mat.When I think of women who are strong, I think of Misha McNair. Misha is grounded like no one I've ever met, being unapologetically herself in every situation. She went into teacher training with no expectations of teaching, and has emerged one of the most powerful and beloved teachers at Just Be. Her classes leave students feeling empowered and light, breaking them open on their mat with her unique ability to be simultaneously hilarious and raw. It's like taking a class from your best friend, no matter who you are or what your story is.
Are there any struggles or difficulties in your life that led you to yoga? How has yoga helped you to overcome these obstacles?
At 27 I was sure I was going to die at a young age. I hate to sound dramatic, but it can’t be explained any other way. I was sad, in pain mentally and physically, unhealthy, overweight, pissed off, anxious, and over all very sure something was wrong with me. I watched my mother deteriorate in front of my eyes- going from a “fully functioning” adult to someone who could barely walk and had little to no will to live. I was sure this would be my fate as well. Hell, I was halfway there. After pushing past the fear of looking like an idiot, I took my first class at Just Be.
Yoga was the first thing to give me hope. I started sweating and letting go of self-limiting beliefs. I could sleep and I wanted to get up in the morning and felt alive. My relationships became healthier and I could actuallyshow up for them. My body stopped hurting slowly and I could hear my bones readjusting during my practice. I finally had relief from the physical and mental turmoil I had let take over my life. Most importantly, I was actually showing up for my own life and dealing with things with breath instead of a death grip.
How have you changed as you've grown stronger, both mentally and physically?
I wish I could invite everyone to my first class at Just Be. I was in Down Dog and my freaking hands were off the mat on both sides. I had to modify everything while flopping about in my own sweat talking shit to myself, counting the minutes until I would be freed from that hot box of hell.
My process was a slow one. I was constantly dealing with injury and went back and forth of loving and hating yoga. I share this because now that both my hands are on mat and I can make it through a practice without abusing myself the real strength I have found is in respecting the process of it all. I had to humble myself to the fullest and accept where I was, because that’s where I gained strength. When I tried to pretend I was further along than I was, I paid for it dearly. I still push and try new things, but I am enjoying the journey, because I know that is where the good stuff is. I feel so strong because I can now tell the difference between when to push and when to take rest on my mat and in my life.
Do you see the pursuit of strength to be one more women are being drawn to? Do you think more women should pursue strength?
I think strength is looked at as more beautiful than it has been in the past. Physical and mental strength in women is revered in way I don’t think has been before. I hope this is a continued trend because it calls women to seek out ways to feel stronger whether that be physical or mental. As my body has gotten stronger and I can feel muscles growing it makes me feel more capable. Some of the strongest people I know are women, and I love considering myself a strong woman.
Do you have any examples of moments when the lessons you've learned in yoga have transferred into your every day life?
My favorite way yoga has crept off my mat and into my life is when it comes to fear. I was crippled with it. Anything new instantly instilled fear in me, and so I gave up on a lot of opportunities in order to stay safe. What ended up happening was my life just stopped evolving. I wasn’t challenged and actually didn’t feel safe at all. I was at a stand still with nobody to blame but myself. Through practicing and teaching yoga I have gained courage to push past fear and go after what I want. It doesn’t always work out, but I have more freedom, excitement, and acceptance in my life.
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to be afraid without being paralyzed.” -Deborah Adele.
Misha teaches at Just Be Yoga Walnut Creek on a weekly basis. To connect with her, go to myjustbeyoga.com