When Michele Flores sees one of her students reach a milestone, she’s as happy as any teacher would be.
Because deep down she knows that the lifestyle tool that she teaches – yoga – can completely transform the very foundation that the life is built upon.
And unlike other forms of exercise, Flores’ specialty has the flexibility of being enjoyed by anybody, of any age, with any body type – requiring just the mental and physical dedication to allow its homeopathic healing to work.
And as somebody who discovered yoga at an age older than most and attributes it almost solely to prolonging her health if not her life, getting the chance to share that with people is what drives her.
“In my life I have done power lifting and I have done kickboxing and I hit a point where the physical toll that those would take on body became too much and a doctor told me that I needed to stop ’jumping’,” she said. “Anybody that knows me knows that I’m hyper, so I needed to find something that would take the place of what I was used to and one day I came across somebody that taught meditation and asked about what he could do for me.
“From that day forward I was hooked. I can’t describe it only one word – there are just too many for me to use – but I know now that there’s no way that I couldn’t live my life without this practice.”
As a certified senior yoga instructor, Flores has had students as old as 100 take her classes and find something beneficial from the centering spiritual practice that originated in India thousands of years ago. And because the individual needs of each particular student varies, their successes aren’t defined in the way that traditional exercise successes are measured – like body fat percentages, muscle content or weight loss.
Her students range from combat fighters looking to gain an edge over their opponents by becoming more flexible to seniors who need to build the strength required to get up out of a chair on their own.
And it’s those cases – the people who reach milestones in their respective lives – that keeps Flores completely dedicated to the practice.
“I don’t know how to describe something that’s encompasses so many different things – it helps me focus mentally, and when I’m done with my last class of the day I’m higher than a kite on the endorphins that your body releases,” she said. “You feel more at one with the earth and your surroundings and it’s an amazing feeling.
“Being able to share that with people and see how it benefits them in their own life is why after all of these years I’m still teaching – there’s always something new and unique to learn.”
Flores says that she considers the practice the biggest factor in “de-aging” her and allowing her to live an active lifestyle beyond the age that most people do, but has also found the spiritual elements of the ancient practice to be enhancements to her own particular beliefs.
She also believes that the practice – which consists of a meditative-like series of poses modeled by ancient teachers after the behaviors of animals in the outside world – has allowed her to grow spiritually and find the kind of acceptance that allows one to achieve true happiness.
“It teaches you to look within yourself and accept yourself as you are – for the beautiful creature that you are,” she said. “Yoga has reinforced all of the beliefs that I had when I was growing up – that it’s not you that’s moving, but an all-powerful force that moves within you.
“When you learn how to use that properly, it can be one of the most beneficial things for your health that you can ever do.”