My Vinyasa Practice
By Sheila Julson
Michelle Young is a registered 500-hour yoga teacher, teacher trainer and owner of My Vinyasa Practice. When she was 16, she lost her mother to cancer, and she lost her father 21 months later to a heart attack. Practicing yoga brought her the peace and contentment she needed to stay grounded and has inspired her to help her students manage adversity through yoga principles.
Over the years, Young practiced yoga at studios throughout the Austin area. She eventually completed yoga teacher training and became certified in yoga therapy. She worked as a yoga therapist at Seaton Hospital, servicing the cardiac rehabilitation unit, and at Insight Behavioral Health. “Working at Insight mirrored my family’s mental health struggles. It gave me an opportunity to work with the mental health clients and find the wellspring of compassion for the human experience,” she says.
That passion for helping inspired Young to form a yoga community in her garage. She worked with yoga teachers that take a therapeutic approach to yoga and yoga flow. Young led international yoga retreats to Iceland and Ireland, and soon her therapeutic vinyasa community grew to encompass teachers from the United States and abroad. After operating from different spaces and in virtual formats, Young found a brick-and-mortar home for My Vinyasa Practice and opened a studio this past July.
My Vinyasa Practice has 20 teachers on staff. Young employs her United States-based yoga teachers on a salary model, rather than the independent contractor arrangement, common in most studios. “They are salaried staff. They teach and also perform functions, like administrative duties and yoga support. They receive financial compensation, health insurance and a 401k.”
Young says services such as drop-in yoga and yoga therapy are donation-based. “We have a recommended donation amount of $10-$15 for yoga, and a recommended donation amount of $50-$100 for yoga therapy. But we do not turn anyone away. We just want people to feel comfortable with that they are giving.”
Young structures her yoga teacher training programs in a flexible, innovative manner. “We do it in sections,” she notes. “Some programs are a 500-hour yoga school where, if you sign up for that training, you are committing to a full 500 hours. We have a 200-hour and a 300-hour school where you can take it in sections.” My Vinyasa Practice also offers a master’s level yoga therapy program for teachers to become accredited through the International Association of Yoga Therapy
“What we want to do is use vinyasa postures in conjunction with specific sequencing in which we use salutations and advanced movements you’d find in viniyoga, to create an opportunity to still the mind while adding a cardiac element,” she explains.
Supporting Yoga Teachers During COVID
Young created a COVID relief fund so her yoga teachers would still receive income during business shutdowns. Because My Vinyasa Practice had always operated in a strong online format, it was easy for Young to create a livestream studio that would give teachers opportunities to earn money during pandemic closures. Teachers taught livestream studio classes and offered support virtually.
In the studio space, Young says they do not allow more than nine people in the studio. “We are requiring people to wear a mask when they practice. Before we opened, we started testing what that would look like. We provide a disposable mask at the door and put a drop of lavender essential oil on it to provide an aromatherapy experience.”
Young says the pandemic has provided an opportunity to witness the unfolding of the human experience during a global crisis. “We can’t control anything that’s happening right now. We can’t control COVID or how we’re behaving as a society, but it allows us opportunities to practice our yoga on and off the mat. Because we’ve been established in the online world already for five years, we have not seen a lot of negative impact financially. We hope to support our staff in many ways that other establishments have not been able to do. We’re happy to be here and look forward to the future and to support the community going forward.”
My Vinyasa Practice is located at 109 Jacob Fontaine Ln., Ste. 800, Austin. For information, contact 512-435-7589 or visit myvinyasapractice.com.