Michael Lee, Founder of Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy, talks to MysticMag about his approach to yoga, how his journey began and how he has helped many others to live in the now.
How and when did yoga become your path?
I lived in Australia in the earlier part of my life before moving to the States. I was conscripted into the Australian army during the Vietnam war. After my two years service, I decided I no longer wanted to work out at the gym and over exert myself in that fashion. So I went to a yoga class which was great, and I decided to continue practicing yoga at home with my little booklet.
One day my 8 year old daughter (at the time) told me she loved it when I did yoga because I wasn’t as grumpy as usual. This was a powerful moment for me, especially as I was working as an Organizational Change Consultant at the time – trying to help people change their behavior in the workplace.
It wasn’t very successful because people would have some great ideas which would fall by the wayside after a couple of weeks. I wondered if it was because the body wasn’t involved and that got me curious about yoga and using the body as a vehicle for change. This was the beginning of my 40 year journey.
It has been very successful and I believe has helped a lot of people and still does. I am still learning everyday which is why I continue to do this work. It is a total blessing.
What is your approach to yoga, and how does this differ from other yoga centers?
There are many unique and wonderful approaches to yoga, but let me speak of this from our perspective. For me, yoga is a way of connecting to ourselves in a way that enhances our life. It is about life enhancement, life transformation, emotional and mental well being, more so than what you are going to do with your body. Your body is involved but is simply the vehicle and not the end product. It is more of a process than a prescription, more of a journey than a destination. It is about tuning into everything that exists.
What can clients expect to gain from a one-on-one session?
Generally, we all get to a point in our lives where things may be going fine, but we feel that something is missing and that there must be more out there. When we get to this point, and we listen to it, it can be a very special and important place. If we pay attention to it, it can be utterly transformational and a turning point in our lives from the point of going along for the ride to actually engaging and embracing life to the fullest and making it worthwhile.
It is usually people who have reached this point in their lives that come to us, and so they actually get what they come for – a different kind of life; more fulfilled, more engaged and purposeful, and where people start to live their dharma – they express the fullness of their being to the world.
Do you believe stress relief to be our number one priority, and how does PRYT navigate this?
I wouldn’t say stress specifically, but I would say our disconnection from ourselves is a priority. We have become very good at using our mind and have accomplished incredible achievements, but in the process of doing this we have lost our connection to a much more basic and fundamental way of being and living in harmony with the planet (global warming being a prime example).
We are not connecting at the level we need to connect, and more importantly we are not connecting with ourselves. We are not grounded in reality and we live a lot of our life out of our mind in either a future or past based reference. We are either thinking regretfully about the past, or looking at the future with anxiety or fear. Life happens now, in the present and this is what we try to get our clients to do; to shed their regrets, fear and anxiety and live life to the fullest today, regardless of what they may be doing.
How many sessions do you recommend your clients attend to start noticing changes in their wellbeing and life?
First, people have a discovery session where they can decide if they want to pursue this path. After this session, I usually suggest a minimum of four sessions to give it a fair trial as it is after all a process and not a once-off quick-fix. Most people, after these four sessions, can already feel an impact and know that something worthwhile is happening, and then choose to continue the journey.
For more information on studying with Michael visit https://www.michaelleeyoga.com/or to train in yoga therapy go to Yoga Therapy Training https://pryt.com/ or follow on https://www.facebook.com/PhoenixRisingYogaTherapy/