Melissa Goodwin

A great many of my most important teachers are people I’ve never met. That seems like an odd statement, I know, so I’ll have to explain.

I’ve been an avid reader since – well, since the moment I learned to read. As a child, my first favorite book was The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne. I have a very clear and distinct memory of thinking, Someday I want to write books like this, after reading it at around the age of eight.

I read and read and read, book after book after book… classics like The Secret Garden (my all-time favorite), The Wind in the Willows, Treasure Island and all of Dickens – and pretty much every other kid’s book you can name. In my teens I became obsessed with mythology – Greek, Roman, Norse. I read Shakespeare and mysteries and historical fiction and fantasy. You name it, I read it.

Each book, each writer, took me not only to other worlds and other times, but also taught me how to write. I think that perhaps I had an innate talent, but it was the generous gift of all these authors, each with a different style and voice, that helped me develop my own gift later on.

So now you are surprised to learn that becoming a yoga teacher was not my first dream – or even my second or third! No, that came much, much later. My first and enduring dream was to be a writer, but it’s a dream that I allowed to go by the wayside while I pursued “normal” jobs working for banks and insurance companies.

But my soul never let me forget about writing. Feeling unfilled with my jobs (okay, let’s be real – I hated them!) I eventually gravitated toward reading books that spoke about the heart’s desire; the soul’s longing. One of the first books that helped me reconnect with my spirit was Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach, which spoke of gratitude for simple pleasures and rediscovering one’s authentic self. From that point on, I devoured “self-help” books and books about spirituality. My new teachers included Wayne Dyer, Louise Hays, Susan Jeffers and Oriah Mountain Dreamer. And so many others….

It wasn’t until I was in my forties, when I (joyously) left the corporate world, that I finally began to write. And when I did, the words flowed as though they had been waiting years to be released. Well, they had been! My stories and articles were published quickly and often in magazines, and I attribute this to the fact that my teachers – all those writers – had taught me well. In 2011, I realized my first dream of writing a children’s book, The Christmas Village. Two years later I published the sequel, and in 2014 I wrote a book with advice about living full-time in an RV (but that’s another story).

At about the same time that I had that crystalized thought about wanting to become a writer, I also discovered yoga. When Mom and I took our first class at the local community center, I fell in love with the way the postures made me feel. Through the years, the stretches and poses stayed with me and I practiced off and on. And then, at about the same time that I began writing in earnest, I also returned to a dedicated yoga practice. Interesting….

Those same books that helped me move toward fulfilling my heart’s desire to write also led me to become more connected to my spirituality, and that led me back to yoga. My practice deepened and eventually I became a teacher. So, I never actually dreamed of being a yoga teacher, but I think now that perhaps the Universe dreamed it for me because it kept veering my path in that direction. A very cagey one, that Universe! Through the written words of others, my teachers, it led me to realize my writing dreams and also toward living a yogic life, in which what I do and who I am are very much in alignment.

I still devour books, but most often now I devour books by people like Pema Chodron, Jack Kornfield, Brene Brown and Thich Nhat Hahn, who write about spirituality and life. These are some of my new teachers, and the list is ever expanding.

What I’ve realized is that these two things that have always called to me – writing and yoga – are very intertwined. I think that opening the door to my creativity through writing helps me to be more creative in the development of my yoga classes. And the more that I explore the spiritual side of yoga, the more open and receptive I am to divine inspiration in my writing. I believe that the Universe tries very hard to reach us and will figure out how to speak to each of us in the way that we can best hear it. For me, that has always been by way of courageous people who are willing to express their hearts through the written word – writers; the teachers I have never met.