This week’s Yogi Spotlight brings an ear-to-ear grin to our face! We caught up with the ever busy MacKenzie Miller as she moves from Seattle, WA to Sunny Los Angeles. MacKenzie is a world traveling, fashion loving, rock climbing, passionate yoga teacher whose IG feed always brightens our day with her positivity and passion for life.
Evolve: We’d love to hear about your “yoga love story”! How did you end up falling in love with yoga?
MacKenzie: My yoga love story went something along these lines… While working a corporate job I was taking yoga a couple times a week at my gym on my lunch break. Not only was it challenging physically but I always went back to my job feeling rejuvenated and ready to work again. I fell in love with my instructor, Angela Kukhahn, because of her lively spirit and passion for the practice. Often it was just she and I in class. Eventually we became friends and she took me to my first class at a yoga studio. That’s when it happened. I fell head over heels in love with yoga. Yoga taught me mindfulness. I started to change “bad” habits, challenge myself, and was taught the tools to cultivate change in my life. The rest is history.
Evolve: What inspired you to want to take your practice further and begin teaching?
MacKenzie: I’ve always loved sharing the empowerment of moving and learning to love your body. From a young age of 15 I taught swimming lessons, which then evolved into personal training and group exercise instructing when I was 18 and from there into teaching yoga. The difference between yoga and everything else I’ve taught is how I felt when I stepped off of the mat and because of that I’ll practice and teach yoga for the rest of my life.
Evolve: I’m not sure we’ve ever seen you NOT rocking that ear-to-ear Miller-grin in your pictures. What helps motivate you to stay so positive? On those not-so-great days what helps bring you back into a positive place?
MacKenzie: It’s fairly ironic that I’m known for my smile on Instagram because that was something I feared sharing with people even a few years ago. I was suffering so badly and didn’t believe myself worthy of love that I hated having photos taken of my face or smiling. I’ve suffered a lot throughout my lifetime and done a lot of self-study to re-pattern some of my self-deprecating habits. After time and constant practice of these tools I’ve learned to choose love. That doesn’t mean I don’t have my moments or days, trust me I do, but now I know how to cope and deal with them better and remember that happiness is only a smile away.
Evolve: We see that aside from yoga, you also are into rock climbing! Can you tell us about how that complements your yoga practice?
Mackenzie above in Teeki Hot Pants
MacKenzie: Rockclimbing is the pulling version of my yoga practice! In yoga we use a lot of our pushing muscles (chest, shoulders, and triceps), but often neglect the muscles in our back. Climbing reminds me of the power of my breathe and ability to stay present in fear. When I’m working on a route and start getting nervous, feel tired, my mind starts telling me to give up… I take a deep breath and it all washes away. I’ve proven myself more capable of overcoming challenges in climbing because of my power to stay present. Of course having good mobility/flexibility and core strength makes you a more effortless climber, so yoga compliments climbing well and vice versa. Between the two I feel whole.
Evolve: Aside from constantly being on the go traveling around the world teaching yoga, we see that you recently left your home in Seattle to move to LA. With all that travel and such a huge move, can you tell us what keeps you balanced and happy admits the chaos?
MacKenzie: It’s funny that you ask because at the moment I’m quarantined to my room in Napa due to strep throat. I was chatting with a dear friend and he said, “So world famous yogis get sick too?!” and I laughed hysterically or as much as possible without dying from pain. The reality is that I’m human. I over commit and stop listening to my body’s signs telling me it needs a break. What’s amazing about our body/mind is that it will force you to take a break if you don’t. Normally, as long as I get an opportunity to move my body, a nourishing meal, and a few moments of alone time I’m set!
Evolve: You have quite the yoga wardrobe! Can you tell us what are some of your favorite brands and why?
MacKenzie: Yes I own a few pairs of leggings! 😉 In fact my wardrobe consists mostly of spandex… My favorite brands to rock are Jiva Shop, Liquido, and Zuvi. They are constantly coming out with new patterns, which keeps things fresh and fun.
Evolve: We’d love to hear more about what you are up to! Please take a moment to plug some of the amazing stuff you have coming up, and let our readers know where they can find you!
MacKenzie: As you mentioned I recently relocated to Los Angeles so I am spending a lot of energy building a community locally. I’ll be traveling to Brazil to lead a yoga retreat October 5-12 2014. For more details on that email me at email@example.com. I’ll be launching a second series on the Cody App about how to increase joint mobility and muscular flexibility. The first series I launched for Cody was all about backbends! Check it out to get a taste of my teaching style.
A ginormous thank you to MacKenzie for taking time to let us into her life for a moment! Make sure you follow this amazing spirit on Instagram @mackenzieyoga !!