Category Archives: All about Yoga

Everything Yoga related: Yoga Asanas, Mudras, Meditation, Yoga Therapy, Breah-work and Yoga Interviews.

An Interview with Melanie Salvatore-August: Author of Fierce Kindness

Melanie Salvatore-August
Melanie Salvatore-August is a tour-DE-force in the yoga world as a yoga teacher, brand ambassador for Lululemon active wear, author of two books Kitchen Yoga and Fierce Kindness, founder of the Fierce Kindness organization and busy mom and wife to a beautiful family in San Fransisco. She is currently on a book tour around the USA to promote her recent book Fierce Kindness however she very lovingly took some time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions. Learn more about Melanie and her beautiful perspective on life and work in the interview below

Melanie, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am driven by connection. I always have been. That moment of feeling in true understanding with another is enthralling for me. With that the power of feeling seen, heard and uniquely valuable I energize and am inspired. When I was a little girl (to my siblings dismay) I jump up during the commercial breaks to dance and gyrate in front of the TV. I definitely wanted attention, liked making my parents laugh and yet the deeper essence of it was that I ached for the regular life distractions to stop and make heart connection. My poor siblings, I can still hear the echoes of “Mom! make her stop. Get away from the TV!”.

The folklore of my family is that from the earliest days I loved everybody and anybody and that was especially inconvenient in the grocery store as I would reach my arms up to be lifted out of the cart to any kindly passer by. Again, connection and I learned that I could make people laugh too with my impersonations of others, plus dancing and an eager spirit to please the only natural path it seemed was to be an actress. It was an equation that seemed fitting and yet it did not truly align with my heart and dharma. I graduated with a BFA from a conservatory drama school University of North Carolina School of the Arts and went on to work in the entertainment industry in NYC and LA for over 10 years before I shifted into full time yoga teaching. I have been a SAG member since 1991 and done my share of live theatre, commercials and film. I spent many of those years writing and performing comedy with a group of super funny women many of whom are now veterans in the entertainment world. The cycle of rejection and constant self-focus kept me anxious and dark. My yoga practice created peaceful power and a larger view of myself and the world around me. The more fulfilled and empowered I became through yoga the less tolerance I had for the entertainment career aspect of my professional life. It organically and gradually shifted away.

During that shifting I met my husband who is a writer, filmmaker and yogi. We fell in love, married and soon after started a family. We are blessed with three boys under the age of 10 and currently live on a budding urban homestead in San Francisco Bay Area. I am an aquarius, a part-time introvert and fan of big wheels, basketball and looking at the sky.

Fierce Kindness
When did you walk into your first yoga class, and what drew you in? And who or what made you decide to become a yoga teacher?
My first yoga class was at the Manhattan Actors Equity Building and Gym in Hell’s Kitchen NYC @1994. It was in a darkened (with red tracked lighting) meditation room where I could barely see my hand in front of my face. I never saw the teachers eyes and yet I remember his beard. All I really knew was that I for one moment at the end of savasana felt relief from the feeling of despair that was always with me. It saved my sanity and my life I think.

I came to yoga with anxiety and depression. It made me feel better and I wanted to help other people feel better too.

Often, I would wistfully say out loud,”I just want to teach yoga.” and Rafael, my husband turn to me one day and said,”Then do it.” With his love and support, I did.


What are the three biggest ways your yoga practice has impacted your life?

Just three? Oh my good question, I will really have to distill it. It freed me of feeling stuck in my immediate circumstances and gave me daily, visceral embodiment of freedom and timeless peaceful power. It helped give understanding that I AM. I has given me tools to regulate my thoughts, ride my emotions and direct my focus to fully living. It reminds me that time here is short and helps me let go of limiting mental construct and say yes to oneness and love. Is that three? It also gives me tools for joy and for my life to be a prayer, it has made me feel so much better.

In addition to being a yoga teacher, you are also a gifted writer. Can you please share a bit about your journey as a writer in finding your unique voice, sharing it with the world, and ultimately becoming a published author?
Thank you! All the twists turns and culminations of my life; from my childhood, to years in the arts, to many hours in the asana/meditation room led me to writing. As a preteen I had a fascination with all things metaphysical. One of my first influential books was Shakti Gawain’s Creative Visualization, it had a huge impact on my thinking. I have been a voracious reader of all new and old spiritual texts over my whole life. Affirmations and visualizations to journey into deeper parts of my consciousness have been a staple of my life practice. The week before Lisa McGuinness now friend and my book’s publisher contacted me to write Kitchen Yoga I had written down the intention on a piece of scrap paper of writing my first book as a vision and seed to manifest. I was amazed and yet not surprised that out of the blue a publisher contacted me. I believe in the connection of life and purpose. I believe my purpose is to share hope, joy and love through all the different avenues of arts and communication.
Interview with Melanie Salvatore-August

How did your current book Fierce Kindness come into being and tell us a little bit about your first book Kitchen Yoga?
Lisa (the publisher at Yellow Pear Press) attended one of my yoga classes and from my understanding she had an experience that confirmed and supported a powerful decision she was working through in her life. She remembered me from that experience and when the time was right for her publishing company Yellow Pear Press she contacted me with the idea of Kitchen Yoga. She offered the concept and I attempted to create an accessible, daily practice book that supports from the inside out, meaning from the thoughts out to the actions to create a balanced and intentional life. The book is multi-layered with each chapter having various affirmations, inspirations, asana, pranayama and meditations that coincide with the chakra system. I was in labor with my 3rd son when Lisa contacted me. I wasn’t sure if I could manage writing, teaching and three kids with one a newborn and yet it happened rather seamlessly. My son was on my lap sleeping and nursing through the entire book writing process so he has to be credited as a silent author. Lisa and I work well together, she cares about being intentional and making a difference in the world with her offerings. Fierce Kindness: Be a Positive Force for Change was again a natural progression of our growing relationship and I think for both of us a passion project.

In relation to the book, can you tell us about your project The Fierce Kindness Movement and how can someone be involved?
Over the last 5 years, through the development support of lululemon (who I have had the pleasure of being a long time ambassador for) I began to actualize a greater impact for good in my community and beyond. Through one of lululemon’s ambassador development retreats it came to me that my understanding of how to make change was to be harnessed and structured so I could reach more people. In the last 4 years, FK events have given athletic shoes for foster kids, toys for Children’s Hospital Cancer patients, food for families in crisis, toiletries for women’s shelter, warm socks for homeless and more. Fierce Kindness is about connecting to purpose and love, using that as power to change the inner conversation from fear to love and while you help yourself your also being of service to the world.

Do Good, Feel Good. Fierce Kindness is a way of processing and approaching life with the tools of how to connect with love and use fear for deeper self knowledge and ultimately how to return over and over to love. It is a call to action to live your belief in love and act upon the power that this belief gives you. The book supports with immediate and actionable tools and mindset shift as well as daily directives to be of service to others. Both the tools and the connection in the world to be of service will make you feel better, happier and more powerfully contented. Through live and online trainings and events, the movement is growing and by 2018 will have a full online education platform that will have tools for self-development as well as leadership support and community building. This year has not only brought forward the book it has also given me an amazing partner in the organization Kaitlin Pratt MFT who is a former deputy sheriff and now a trauma therapist. She embodies fierce kindness and we are excited about the future of Operation Fierce Kindness.
Fierce Kindness and Kitchen Yoga

When we step onto the mat, we set an intention for our practice. What is an intention/mantra/quote that you live by, that helps guide you throughout your days, your teaching, and your life in general?
Guru Chant is how I step into my practice and in to life. I am surrendering and stepping in to my highest and eternal self, which is beyond my immediate circumstances. It reminds that I come from love and will return to love so move forward with faith.

In your book you talk about taking charge, being positive and living your life with fierce kindness and that’s such a profound concept that a lot of people can really benefit from, can you tell us how to apply that to daily life?
I am so glad that you think it is of benefit. The application is in small daily choices and actions that are repeated. The power is in the consistent pause; as it is the pause to feel, discern, redirect the mind to be in alignment with the heart/soul will create fulfillment, power and expansion into the best truth of yourself. Fierce kindness is for the person who believes in love and yet doubt has moved them just out of alignment with that belief. It gives them simple yet life changing tools to update their operating system and live in their beliefs. That creates powerful synchronicities as like attracts like and that amazing ripple effect of do good, feel good, feel good, do good that is transformational.
Yellow Pear Press Publishing

Photo by Marilyn Isaac Photography

What’s your advice to other yogi-preneurs for staying balanced, maintaining the vision, and making their dreams a reality?
You don’t have to be finished or perfect to do good and create the life that you dream. Ask yourself the raw and hard questions about what you truly want and why you want to do it. Make consistent daily positive actions while trusting the timing and support of the universe and love. Notice when you are struggling and get to the root of what is causing this fear response, then use your practices to clear it and create again. Live, love and be grateful now, the rest will come. Trust the process and truth of your purpose which comes from love.

what does living a conscious lifestyle mean to you?
Waking yourself up over and over to the wonder of the moment and life itself as it is a blessing and is precious. Doing the best you can in any given circumstance to return to love as efficiently as you can.
Yoga teacher interview, author

What does the future hold for you? Another book perhaps? Give us a glimpse into your future goals and aspirations.
I’m excited about the launch of our online educational platform Operation Fierce Kindness as well as the Audible audio version of Fierce Kindness which will release in the fall. I’m in development for a TEDtalk-type version of Fierce Kindness as well. I am called to write more books and have a couple of projects in early stages that I am giving space, trusting the timing and process of it all. I am very thankful to have channels of service and expression. Thank you so much for your interest and kind support of Fierce Kindness.
Melanie Salvatore-August

Photo by Marilyn Isaac Photography

Melanie has been a delight to get to know, I truly resonate with her words, her incredible zest for life and her personality is beautifully radiant. I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed reading & reviewing her latest book ‘Fierce Kindness‘ on Yogi Approved and Bad Yogi. Very soon I will be reviewing her first book ‘Kitchen Yoga‘ on the blog next, stay tuned for that!

To connect with Melanie click on the links below:
Melanie Salvatore-August’s Website
Her Instagram: melsalaugust
Her Facebook Page: MelanieSalvatoreAugust
Join the Movement: Operation Fierce Kindness

Buy her books:
Fierce Kindness: Change Yourself to Change the World
Kitchen Yoga: Simple Home Practices to Transform Mind, Body, and Life

Want to view more interviews? Click on the links below.
An Interview with Krista Marie Starr on Yogi Approved.
An Interview with Rachel Wainwright on Yogi Approved.
An Interview with Sarah-Yoga Teacher & Psychology graduate
An Interview with Artist Rebecca Liggett.
An Interview with Nicole of Pure Soul Holistics
An Interview with Jenny of Alligator Smiles glass artistry
An Interview with Violeta a Jewellery designer from Surray

Yogi Approved Summer Book Review


Here is my latest Yogi Approved Article. It’s a short and simple book review of six books yogis might like to read over the summer. I’ve felt very bookish and wordy for a few weeks now and had the urge to talk about all things books!
Click here to read it: 6 soulful books on our reading list.

This article is one of the last articles I am writing with Yogi Approved. My next one is about the health benefits and techniques of Indian Head Massage and the final one will be about my experience on my Teen yoga teacher training happening in August. Although my editor and I haven’t finalized how that is going to be executed, it could be an interview, it could be a personal story of the training, it could be a tips & advice mixed with a lesson plan or a fusion of all these ideas. But yes, that one will be the final ever published article with Yogi Approved. As stated in previous blogs, I will still remain a writer for them for if in the future the inspiration hits me but it will no longer be a monthly or reoccurring thing anymore because my life is changing as is my writing and I don’t have the time anymore to offer Yogi Approved on-going written pieces. So I am still with them, but kinda not at the same time.

If you wish to see all the articles I have written for Yogi Approved, click here.
If you wish to see what I’ve written for Bad Yogi, click here.
Here you can read my poem on Rebelle Society.
Here you can read a piece of prose for Elephant Journal.
Here you can read a piece of prose for Eat.Breathe.Thrive.

An interview with Sarah the Yogi

yoga in worthing
I have known Sarah now for over a year. We became friends instantly and she allowed me to stay with her whilst I did my Kids yoga teacher training in Brighton, back then we were discussing our dreams and our eventual path towards becoming certified yoga teachers and possibly running retreats together. We also got tattoos together to celebrate our budding friendship. Fast forward to this present moment and I’m about to train as a Teen yoga teacher and Sarah has just completed her 200hr yoga teacher training! Sarah is a beautiful fusion between gentleness and sass. Her soothing, husky voice has the capability of calming even the most anxious person and she has the sweetest disposition. She is spirited, gracious, and generous with a big heart and I really wanted to give readers a glimpse into her thoughts and of her current adventures in life.

Describe who you are and what you do in three sentences or less.
I’m Sarah, psychology graduate and newly qualified yoga teacher! I am an Aries (with the fiery hair to match!) and I currently live in Worthing, which is just down the coast from Brighton.

Tell is your life journey and how it lead you to Yoga?
Yoga has always fascinated me. I remember taking books on Yoga out of the library as a teenager and trying to hold the pages open with one foot whilst attempting to contort myself into the poses. Needless to say, it wasn’t too successful! During my late teens and early 20s I struggled with a huge lack of confidence, depression, and turbulent relationships. I felt incredibly lost in life and was experiencing a feeling of disconnection from everything. I can’t remember the specific moment I decided to explore Yoga again, but I do remember sweating like crazy in Downward Facing Dog and feeling this huge wave of peace wash over me in Savasana. I had never experienced anything like it before, and every fibre of my being was calling me to repeat the practice. So I did. Again and again. Yoga has been instrumental in shaping my growth and development as a person, and I honestly don’t know where I would be without it.

What are your other passions and interests?
I am an avid reader, although I buy far more books than I will ever read! Living by the sea I also love going for walks along the beach. I have recently begun writing for the Bad Yogi blog, and am currently learning to play the ukulele… although with limited success so far!
yoga in Brighton

From your perspective how does psychology and yoga overlap?
Yoga, like psychology, is a science. It is the science of careful self enquiry in order to gain knowledge and wisdom about ourselves. As BKS Iyengar so succinctly puts it “Yoga, an ancient but perfect science, deals with the evolution of humanity. This evolution includes all aspects of one’s being, from bodily health to self realization”. One of the roles of psychology is to understand more about (and how to treat) mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and chronic stress. The role that yoga can play as an adjunct treatment for these issues is of huge significance.

Who or what inspires you?
I am inspired by people who speak and live their truth, it just shines out from them. As I have studied more Yoga Philosophy, I have also become inspired by the Bhagavad Gita and the Hindu gods/goddesses.
yoga outside

In your career and life, what’s been your greatest asset? And, if you care to share, your greatest hindrance? How did you overcome it?
Hmmm…I don’t know if I could define it as an asset, it’s probably more of a work in progress at the moment! But I would have to say trust. The trust I have to listen to my gut feelings about situations and decisions in my life, about when is the time to stay, to go, to make a change. And as I develop my connection to that inner intuition it feels like more things in my life are slotting into place. My greatest hindrance would have to be my tendency to compare myself with others and feel ‘less than’. I think this is hard given the ‘highlights reel’ of other people’s lives that we are exposed to on social media. But at the end of the day, we choose what information we feed ourselves, and I find that consciously selecting what I read and watch, and focusing on cultivating my own happiness has helped me to overcome these feelings.

What is your personal measure of success and what makes you happy?
I try not to strive for ‘success’ as such, of course I have goals and ambitions, but they are not end points. I can’t imagine getting to a point in my life where I think ‘great – I’ve made it now’, because we are always growing and evolving.
What makes me happy? Sorry to be such a huge cliché, but it really is all of the mundane little pleasures that make up life; lazy morning cuddles in bed, a chilled glass of rose, walking barefoot through grass, laughing, sharing.
yoga in nature

What is your best advice you’ve ever gotten?
‘Do the right thing, and the right thing will happen’ – Trust that you are doing all that you can and the opportunities and synchronicity will arise.

What’s next for you and what are your life goals? Give us a glimpse into your bucket list?
As a newly qualified yoga teacher I am really excited to get teaching and start to embody all of the knowledge that I have gained over the course of my training. I am very much open to seeing where it takes me without really having much of a plan (why change the habit of a lifetime eh?). In terms of my other life goals, I am very keen to travel and see more of the world. I would also like to dedicate more time to being creative. I used to love to read, write, paint and draw, but I never make the time to do this anymore, so I would love to rediscover my artistic side! I never want to stop learning and there are so many areas that I would love to pursue in the future; massage, aromatherapy, ayurveda…The list goes on!
wheel pose chakrasana

Do you have any tips and advice for those wishing to pursue their dreams? Do you have an inspirational quote or mantra you live by that you’d like to share?
Dream – dream big, dream small, but mean it. Trust in the process, and trust in your inner voice or gut feeling that is guiding you. Try not to be disheartened or distracted by the opinions of others, it is your life and your happiness, so why should anyone else govern it? I believe that the practice of setting a Sankalpa can be very helpful. A Sankalpa is a short positive affirmation that you repeat three times at the start of a yoga or meditation practice, such as ‘I am enough’ or ‘I trust in my wisdom’, which blooms and blossoms in your unconscious mind.
lotus pose with prayer mudra
To get to know Sarah a little more, follow her on instagram or read her articles on the Bad Yogi Blog.

Want to read other interviews on Sunflowerteeth blog? Click on the links below!
An Interview with Rebecca, an artist and trainee primary school teacher
An Interview with Nicole of Pure Soul Holistics
An Interview with Jenny of Alligator Smiles glass artistry
An Interview with Violeta a Jewellery designer from Surray

Yoga, Dandelions & a Doggy

Yoga
Last Sunday Jon and I took Milly for a walk around a local park in Plymouth. Walking along the fields we saw hundreds of Dandelions and Buttercups dancing in the sun. I love Dandelions and there were so many of them along the grass at and were dotted about like little clouds, I wanted to lie in the grass and do some yoga around them…Milly wanted to join in!

The weather in the UK has been reasonably decent these past few weeks, with the exception of the rain storm during the May bank holiday. We have been able to get out in the sunshine and we hope this pleasant weather stays whilst we work on our garden and it’s just been so great not having to take my huge winter coat everywhere I go, all I need is a light jacket.
There is just something about nature that airs my heart out and because I now live nearer to the countryside (the South West of England) I’ve become even more appreciative and fascinated by wildlife and botanics. So much so, it will be something I study in the distance future to perhaps grow and dry my own herbs and create my own concoctions and potions!

In general with my life, I am quite content with everything. I’ve never been so happy in my body and mind as I am now, I have a plan and direction of where I’d like to go with my career and I feel very fortune to certain individuals (including Milly) who have come into my life and shown me love and kindness or an appreciation for my quirkiness, these lovely souls sincerely love me for who I am and have not judged me or attempted to change me and I think these people have come into my life recently because I was beginning to practice self love which in turn attracted the right people, my little tribe of wild flowers! I feel truly grateful for all I have and all that is coming!
Plymouth

Devon

Spring time

Dandelion

walking the dog

yoga in the park

yoga outside

UK Yogi

Yoga with dogs

Yoga on the Hoe

yoga in Plymouth
Today I met up with a woman named Jeanette who is friends with my yoga teacher and is currently doing her yoga teacher training. I offered to be her yoga guinea-pig whilst she assessed my sun salutations and we discussed me performing and teaching a belly dance class at her yoga festival this September in Newquay.
Initially the weather was beautiful and warm but it suddenly turned very cloudy and chilly so we ended up practicing yoga in our coats! Jeanette taught me some lovely partner yoga stretches to music called Isochronic tones and after a sun salutation warm up she disected my salutation asanas to help me see where I may need improving which was really fun and interesting. We learned that both my cobra and down-dog are beautiful and near perfect but my forward fold and chaturanga needs adjusting. To be fair, it was rather chilly so my hamstrings were reasonably tight however Jeanette showed me ways to find space in my hips as I bend forward and to slightly balance on the balls of my feet rather than resting on my ankles in order to get that proper stretch my hamstrings need. She also suggested to practice this asana with the wall behind me as I fold to help encourage an aligned folding. And my Chaturanga (Plank) was good but we noticed my core wasn’t 100% activated and I was pushing my butt up slightly to compensate for lack of core work during this asana.

We also chatted a lot about our mutual love for different yoga styles and holistic therapies and Jeanette showed me a map of what the festival is going to look like and where I’m probably going to be teaching. Her personality and temperament is similar to mine (including that day dreamy look I have when thinking of things.) and our sense of humour is the same. It’s so lovely to meet such a kindred spirit and we’re already talking about attending different types of yoga workshops together, she’s even invited me to try Yoga Nidra and Womb yoga with her soon.
It was a super fun day!

sun salutation

cobra and down dog

forward fold yoga