Q&A: Melissa Hollander


How long have you been teaching yoga?  

About six years.

Why did you become a yoga teacher? Who and/or what are your biggest influences?melissa

I love yoga and I wanted to share that with others. Wendy Dahl and Gabriel Halpern were wonderful influences.

How has yoga helped you to be a better person?

It has helped me to slow down and enjoy my life.

What is your personal mission statement as a yoga teacher?

I believe yoga can benefit everyone, no matter your age or fitness level. My goal as a teacher is to help each person discover what expression of yoga is of the most benefit to them.

What do you think constitutes an excellent yoga instructor?

Someone who helps their students grow in a positive way.

What was your most challenging teaching experience?

I always find it a bit daunting to sub a class for a beloved teacher. The students often are disappointed their favorite teacher isn’t there. In that situation, I try to not take their disappointment personally, to be as upbeat as possible, and to offer them the best of me that I can. Really, what else can you do? You can’t magically transform into their missing teacher! They still may not like my style as much as their regular teacher, but I believe they appreciate my intention to give them a good experience.

What do you recommend to the beginner student? To the seasoned student?

To the beginner student: Listen to your body! The point of yoga is to be of benefit to you. If you injure or harm yourself trying to do something your body isn’t ready for, you’re missing the whole point. Look around if you need to, to follow along. Take breaks. Don’t worry about how you look to others during the practice. This is for you. Not them.

To the seasoned student: As you know the poses better, you have more opportunity to turn inward, to experience the practice more from the inside out. Also, there is a difference between contentment and complacency. Continue to grow.

How do you take your yoga off the mat?

By attempting to live my life with patience, gratitude, and compassion as best I can in that moment.

What is the one pose you are most proud of getting into?

Hmmm…My favorite pose is legs up the wall. It always feels good. I like playing around in headstand, but I’m not particularly proud of the effort of getting into it because I’ve been doing it since I was a kid. I would also have to pick crow pose because arm balances are difficult for me to do. I still don’t like them all that much, but I appreciate the progress I have made so that now I can get into them…sometimes.

What is your favorite time of day to practice yoga?

Mid-to-late morning. It’s when I’m at my peak physically and mentally.

Where is the best place you have ever practiced yoga?

Being outside is always nice. One time, I did some Acroyoga with a group in a forest/park area. That was fun.

What is your favorite music to listen to while practicing yoga?

This changes from day to day. Lately, I like the band “A Great Big World.”

What else do you want students to know about you?

I am still learning, too! Often what I am telling you is a lesson I am still working on mastering.

Why do you love teaching at Pulsation Yoga?

I love the focus on alignment at Pulsation. And the owners are wonderful people.

Melissa Hollander teaches at the Pulsation Yoga studio in Arlington Heights. Check out the class schedule to attend her classes.