Happy Opening Day/Friday, loves! We are so excited to start introducing you to some of our favorite instructors and workout pals that inspire us to SHOW UP – not just to our workouts, but in everything we do, no matter what challenges are thrown our way.
To kick it off, we’d like to introduce you to Nila Mechali, an AMAZING yoga instructor & lululemon ambassador who’s 4-Week Workshop Series, “Root Down To Rise Up”, starts on Wednesday, April 22nd.
I had the pleasure of meeting Nila last January when REV Cycle first opened and had a couple of yoga classes on their schedule. I immediately fell in love with her athletic approach to (power vinyasa) yoga, her eclectic mix of music and the inspiring/motivational way she encouraged us to “find our dance on our mat.” I had taken a few yoga classes here and there, but by no means considered myself a practicing yogi. Often times weeks would go by before I stepped on my mat and I usually turned to yoga on my “off day.” I used it to stretch out after long run or to clear my mind when I didn’t feel like “really sweating.” Honestly, I didn’t truly consider yoga a workout until I experienced class with Nila, and from there I was hooked…
I could enjoy the mental release yet still leave hot and sweaty, feeling like every muscle (especially core and arms!) had been worked. Best of all, I don’t know how she does it, but without fail she says something that truly resonates with whatever I have going through at any given moment! I will never forget taking class on my last day working at Under Armour, unsure of where my career would take me next, and her saying, “In this moment, you are exactly where you need to be.”
It wasn’t long before I dragged my boyfriend, also a big runner, to Nila’s 6PM Monday night “Yoga for Athletes” class at Sanctuary Bodyworks in Fells Point, and it didn’t take long before Mondays became date night – yoga with Nila, followed by half price pizza night at his favorite bar and the Bachelor…don’t judge 🙂 The energy that radiates in the studio during these Monday night classes is truly incredible! – a lot of guys, athletes and instructors from across Baltimore let go, flow, laugh and sometimes even sing outloud together from their mats. Plus it gets HOT…like really hot…like steaming-up-all-the-mirrors-looks-like-you-went-for-a-swim hot. These classes feel like coming home to me – a feeling that, now more than ever, I look forward to each and every week.
When M.Power Yoga studio opened in the Natty Boh Tower in September we were so thrilled to see that Nila would be teaching there as well (Saturdays at 10:30AM – check it out, and get there early!). Beyond being a talented instructor, Nila is first and foremost an amazing person, who truly connects with and genuinely cares about her students – on and off the mat. I am so honored to call her a friend, and will be forever grateful to her for changing the way I see yoga, and for encouraging me to keep my body strong and my heart open, no matter what.
Without further ado, we hope you enjoy getting to know Nila with this fun little Q&A!
How would you describe the style of yoga you teach? Where did you get your certification? How long have you been teaching?
I teach power vinyasa – fun power vinyasa – a powerful flow that will push you to your edge! I received my certification two years ago in Baltimore.
Your Monday night class at Sanctuary Bodyworks is called “Yoga for Athletes” – what does this mean?
Yoga for Athletes is really yoga for yogis…in my eyes, we are all athletes. Anyone who steps on a yoga mat is truly an athlete. I offer an upbeat energetic flow – we move and sweat and breathe – a lot. We connect to core. We power up. And then we surrender with heavy emphasis on opening our hips, hamstrings and glutes. Growing up as a dancer, I never considered myself to be an athlete – I realize now that we are all athletes in our own way. And once we step on the mat, the game we play is truly our own.
What does your day look like when you’re not on your mat?
Oh wow, where to start… My family owns and runs a gourmet food manufacturing company here in Baltimore. So if I’m not making salsa, I’m selling salsa to stores around town like Wegmans, Eddies, Grauls and The Fresh Market. I teach yoga about five times a week: to adults at Sanctuary Bodyworks and MPower, to college varsity athletes at Johns Hopkins as well as to tweens at Goals and Coppermine. My fiancé and I recently renovated our Rodgers Forge home and we enjoy time (once we find some!) cooking in our new kitchen and taking hikes with our puppy, Lexi.
Something we frequently cover on our blog is how Baltimore is really starting to become a fit city. With boutique studios popping up all over the place and now ClassPass available, how do you think yoga fits into this equation?
To me, yoga is not only an avenue for fitness, but it is also a way of life. I see students realizing this not only in their bodies but also in their mindsets. I promise you will get a solid cardio workout in my class. To those who don’t believe, come and try it – if you don’t get a solid workout, the next class is on me.
What is the focus of your upcoming workshop “Root Down to Rise Up”? What inspired you to put this together?
The focus of this workshop is to break down postures in order to take them further. What?? Ok, so my goal here is to take postures that are a bit more challenging and break them down slowly – work through exactly how to take them further, step by step – in order to deepen the practice and master postures that might have seemed out of reach before.
I also want to focus on proper form – starting with proper form makes it so much easier to get to where you want to go – it’s a simple way of setting up for success. When you believe in yourself in a new way, you live a new life – pretty spectacular. I was inspired to put this workshop together by a student (and friend) who explained that she felt “stuck in her shoulders” during a twisting sequence, like she couldn’t twist further and open up because of her shoulders. I watched closely and saw that her “stuckness” had nothing to do with her shoulders and everything to do with her lower back. She was starting the twist mid back instead of from the low back. We tweaked and adjusted and just like that her right shoulder head was facing the ceiling. I woke up the next morning and created the flier for the workshop.
Kate & I kicked off my birthday weekend & prepared ourselves for the craziness of the holidays with Give Presence, an awesome yoga event hosted by Nila & fellow lululemon ambassador Lindsay Lusignea at the gorgeous Enoch Pratt library.
You’ve hosted some really awesome events that we have really enjoyed – Grateful Phlow, Give Presence and now this workshop – can you give us the scoop on what you might be working on next?
Yes yes, of course! Mark your calendars for July 18th!! Jason Herd and I will be hosting the next Grateful Phlow!! We are working on the details, but get ready for an amazing night – we are recreating the concert experience, tailgate and all, including an awesome “phlow” to super jammy tunes. Live music, shakedown street vendors, tailgate games and local beer… details coming soon!!
What does yoga mean to you? What keeps you practicing and teaching when you’re exhausted and live throws you curveballs?
Yoga is a way of life for me. It reminds me to face fears with love and hope, to be grateful every day, to live and breathe truth. And to answer the second question… yoga itself is what keeps me practicing and teaching when I’m exhausted and life throws me curveballs.
Enough said. Nila’s awesome. Hope you’ll join me for Root Down to Rise Up! Email Nila for more info, or to reserve your spot today!