With nearly 29k instagram followers, Melissa Lee may have already caught your eye with her beautiful striking photos and breathtaking poses, but you probably know her better under the Instagram handle, @PocketDwarf.
We adore this graceful beauty, and jumped at the chance to chat with her to find out more about the woman, mother, and yogi that graces our instagram feed.
Evolve: Your real name is Melissa Lee. We have to ask where did the name Pocketdwarf come from?
Melissa: LOL. oh boy. Long story short. Pocketdwarf is a nickname my husband gave to me years ago (it stems from a nickname my mom gave me when I was a baby). We always laughed about it and I would use it for some of the nicknames of my accounts. When I signed up for IG I had no idea what IG was. I thought it was just an app to make your pictures “pretty” and then my friend explained to me how IG really worked months later. I have thought of changing it before, but people seem to really enjoy it so I just keep it, but it is pretty funny.
Evolve: Your pictures are breathtaking. How did you become such a talented photographer?
Melissa: Thank you so much. I actually use my iPhone for every picture and place it on the ground on a timer to take my pictures – no fancy gear or lens. I think by taking thousands of pictures over the past year, I know what works for me and what I like, but I am definitely far from what the professionals do. But I do see things differently now – I will look at a spot and know only certain poses will work well for that location. Or I factor in the time of day, light, shadows, etc and sometimes have to retake a picture later in the day because I don’t like how it turned out. I am pretty picky about my pictures.
Evolve: What brought you to yoga and how has it changed your life?
Melissa: I actually started doing yoga because of IG. After my friend explained how IG really worked I started seeing yoga pictures on the popular page and started following those accounts. After about a week of watching these accounts and the amazing things they were doing I decided to try out my first yoga challenge and was hooked ever since. I liked how it was such a challenge for me. I grew up playing sports and running, so I was athletic, not at all bendy or flexible. I have to work really hard at all of that stuff, but I think I was able to pick up inversions and arm balances quickly because of my athletic background. I used to be really high strung, and I feel as though yoga has really helped calm my mind and tame my anxiety. I am really grateful I found yoga and it is currently the only form of physical activity I do. I always tell people they need to try yoga.
Evolve: What inspired your to start sharing your yoga practice with the world?
Melissa: When I first started posting yoga pictures on IG I was super shy about it. It’s hard putting your pictures out there. I told myself that I committed to this monthly challenge and had to finish it. I felt like sharing those pictures kept me accountable and motivated me to practice every day. I know there are no IG challenge police and it doesn’t matter if I didn’t do every pose, but it was important to me that I did it. And then it just became part of my daily life. After a couple months of posting regularly people would say that they were inspired to start yoga from seeing my practice and progress, which was pretty amazing. I just have fun taking pictures, most of the pictures I take never get posted. I take them because I have fun seeing what I can create, and it makes me really happy.
Evolve: Your daughter is adorable! Has your yoga practiced helped you with motherhood?
Melissa: Aww, thank you so much. Well a big thing for me initially was it helped me lose the baby weight and get my body back to how it was before baby. But it is definitely so much more than that now. If I am feeling frustrated or upset over something that is happening during the day I can spend 5 minutes doing yoga (Inversion, arm balance etc) and my mood has totally changed. It can be hard having a toddler that has a mind of their own. Plus, it is pretty amazing to see her doing yoga now and busting out some poses where ever we go. She loves it. She has a couple of her own yoga mats and will unroll them beside mine and say “Zoey yoga mat, Zoey does yoga”. I love sharing my passion with her.
Evolve: We love that you are always shopping with us; can you tell us what are some of your favorite brands to wear when practicing and why?
Melissa: Ooh that is tricky, I have a lot of faves! But I think some of my go to brands would be Liquido Active, Glyder, Teeki, Alo Yoga, and The Jiva Shop. I have tested out all of those brands in some pretty intense classes and they all hold up so well. Don’t lose their shape, made from amazing material that isn’t sheer, and are super comfortable (plus pretty awesome prints). I am pretty picky about fit and they all pass my picky standards. But for day to day stuff (Plus a little yoga) I am in LOVE with LVR leggings. They are my go to leggings for everything and I am always wearing items from their line.
Evolve: Okay, seriously lets talk, some of your death-defying pictures have our jaws hitting the desk. How do you manage to keep your cool when you are shooting in a precarious situation? Have you had any scary or embarrassing mishaps that you’ll share with us?
Melissa: I will only do a pose somewhere a little scary if I am 100% confident in my abilities and I always have an exit strategy. If something feels to risky, I won’t do it. I know accidents can happen no matter what, but I try to be pretty safe. I really have to focus when I am doing something up high or on an uneven surface and I really use my breath to keep me focused and tune everything else out. I have definitely done a couple things that got the heart rate up haha, but thankfully no close calls. Typically the embarrassing things happen at home on flat ground when no one is around. But I have had people stop and take pictures of me doing yoga in public, give me a round of applause and ask me if that hurts. I still get nervous doing yoga in public, but I love it.
Evolve: We’d love to hear about any cool contests, giveaways, or instagram challenges that you are involved in! Here is your chance to plug up any current or upcoming stuff that our readers can be on the look out for!
Melissa: I am currently doing a 10 day Challenge with @silver_cloudss and @rivkayoga called #TheYogaWithin which runs until July 30th. We are focusing on poses that get into some areas that typically create some pretty strong emotions. I am teaming up with Manduka to do a mat giveaway to a lucky yogi and their mini. They will each receive one LiveON adult mat and one LiveON kiddie mat compliments of Manduka. That give away ends July 24th. And lastly we are going to be starting up the #outdooryogis Challenge again soon. So keep your eyes out for that.
Evolve:Thank you, Melissa, we appreciate your taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with us!
We hope that you are as inspired by this yogi as we are!