Everything Happens For A Reason

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I am a firm believer of “everything happens for a reason”, which is probably why the timing of yoga and pilates coming into my life was kismet.

I discovered Yoga in 2000 and in 2001, I was hit by a car whilst walking across a pedestrian crossing resulting in chronic back pain. In 2014, I became a certified Pilates Mat and Reformer Instructor and in late 2014 began complaining of severe hip pain. I feel so blessed to have had the skills to manage my pain with Yoga and Pilates instead of having to turn to pain killers. For me, daily yoga and pilates has not been a luxury but rather a  necessity.

It wasn’t until recently that a photoshoot went horribly wrong, that is, I couldn’t get my leg into the car without physically lifting it, that I realised something was seriously wrong with my hip. The next day I went to see a my Osteopath who said I was displaying all the symptoms of someone with a slipped disk in my lumbar spine. Of course I was very quick to tell her that she was wrong and that it wasn’t my back, it was my hip. I begged her to just give me a treatment and send me home but she advised me that I would need to have a scan and that she couldn’t help me until she had seen the results but in the meantime, I shouldn’t do any activities that involved any lumbar extension or flexion. As the tears began to well up in my eyes, I felt like a Heroin Addict who had just been told they had to go on the Methadone program. Over the last 15 years, yoga had been my drug of choice- yoga would make everything ok- physically, mentally and emotionally.

When I left my Osteo’s office I just wanted to go somewhere and have a big cry. I dreaded getting on my mat or on the Pilates Reformer as my mind was just boggled at the thought of not doing any forward or backbends. All I knew is that as a yoga and pilates instructor and a devotee, I couldn’t imagine my life with these tools- my drugs of choice. So the very next day I lay down on the reformer and began to move and then I then lay out my yoga mat and before long I was doing my full practice in neutral spine. I moved my body, not like I used to, but in a way that allowed me to maintain a neutral spine. And magically the next day, my hip felt so much better. It was then that I realised, much to my dismay, that my Osteo may be right! So I booked in for an MRI for confirmation (the results are pending). 3 weeks later I am still doing my modified yoga and pilates practice and to be honest, I have actually grown quite fond of my new practice. Having to modify your practice because of injury forces you to put your ego aside and really explore the postures and exercises with a fresh pair of eyes. It also has forced me to become a better instructor as I can’t demonstrate the postures/ exercises so I really need to give accurate instructions. And most importantly, it gives me empathy for my clients. Over the last 13 years I have often wondered when my back will stop being my greatest teacher but I have come to realise that I think it’s going to continue to guide me for the rest of my lifetime.

Being hit by a car 13 years ago was blessing in disguise. If it wasn’t for this life changing experience, I would be just another office worker complaining of backpain with no skills to relieve it. Instead, I have both yoga and pilates in my tool box from which I can draw from to heal myself and to help heal others. 

It got me thinking… it’s our attachment to the past, the way things were, the body that we had etc etc that brings us down. By living in the moment, accepting our current situation and adapting to our new state of being we can achieve real happiness.

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About Melissa Knapp

Acupuncture, Osteo, Chiro and Physio to relieve the pain, but found the most effective form of rehabilitation was yoga. At this time, she found herself unfulfilled in a fast paced role at one of Sydney's largest advertising agencies. In 2003, inspired by her vision for teaching yoga to children of all ages, Melissa exchanged her corporate career for her yoga mat and completed the Centered Yoga Teacher Training programme with Paul Dallaghan in Koh Samui Thailand (Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga), and later studied with Angelika Knoerzer at North Sydney Yoga (Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga) and more recently, Power Yoga with Bryan Kest in the USA. She has also been inspired by Nikki Fulford at Yoga Studio in Bondi Junction, Sharath Rangaswamy, the Director of the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute (AYRI) in Mysore (India) and Shakti and Lotus (her two cats who practise 'Catoga'). She has also participated in workshops with the following: Matthew Sweeney, John Scott, Dena Kingsburg and Manju Jois (Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga), Sharon Gannon and David Life (Jivamukti Yoga) Twee Merrigan (Prana Flow) and Eve Grzybowski (Yoga for Seniors). Melissa has completed the birthlight Perinatal Yoga Diploma with Francoise Barbira Freedman and Sally Lomas and has also studied Prenatal Yoga with Janice Clarfield from Urban Yoga, Ana Davis from Bondi Bliss and Katie Spiers from Samadhi Bliss. Melissa has a birthlight Baby Yoga Diploma and SMART Toddler Yoga Certificate from birthlight International (Francoise Barbira Freedman) and is currently the only SMART Toddler Yoga Teacher in Australia and the first qualified birthlight Baby Yoga Teacher in Australia. Melissa has completed the Rainbow Kids Yoga Teacher Training, the Radiant Child Yoga Program (Levels 1 - 3) with Shakta Kaur Khalsa and the Mini Yogis Teacher Training with Shana Meyerson. Teaching Kids since 2003, she was one of the first Kids Yoga Teachers in Australia. Melissa is also accredited as a Community Coach with the Australian Sports Commission to provide yoga for the Active After-School Communities Program and a certified Infant Massage Instructor with the International Association of Infant Massage (IAIM). Melissa flirted with Pilates in 2005- 2009 when she was teaching Yoga at Elixr. After taking a break she realised in 2012 that something was missing from her own personal yoga practice and that of her Clients; core strength and spinal mobility. Before long, Melissa was going steady with Pilates balancing her daily yoga practice with pilates mat and reformer classes. She was visiting the Osteopath less frequently and was much stronger in her yoga practice. In 2014 she attained a Certificate IV in Pilates Matwork Instruction and became a Certified Practitioner of Pilates Reformer with Polestar. In 2013 she completed a Women’s Health course with Polestar Educator Jen Guest and a Pre & Post natal Pilates workshop with Louise Taube. Whilst Yoga will always be her one true love, she is really enjoying her affair with Pilates. Melissa is wildly passionate about teaching Yoga and Pilates to people of all ages and stages including Beginners, Grown- Ups, Pre and Postnatal women, Children of all ages and Teenagers.

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