Stronger Together

I just returned from my second annual yoga retreat to the Pacific Coast of Mexico just south of Zihuatenejo.  Last year, I heard about the option to attend a traditional Mexican sweat lodge ceremony or “Temazcal” with a local “curandera” or healer.  Naturally, I organized a private optional “Temazcal” for those who wanted to join me this year.  We had a total of eight intrepid yogis who headed out Thursday afternoon to meet Lupita, a Mexican woman whose ancestors have been leading these ceremonies for thousands of years.

Lupita spoke of the resistance of native Mexicans to the colonizers, and how her ancestors used to dance and sing to praise the Earth and all of the Elements.  I began to cry within the first two minutes of her introduction to the ceremony we were about to experience.  Lupita spoke of dancing as a massage for the Earth, her people using their bare feet and conscious steps as a loving rub of the earth beneath them. “She gives us so much, we give back to her by loving her and expressing gratitude, massaging her with our feet.”
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Lupita told us that the colonizers would break the legs of her people so that they couldn’t dance, but they would still sing using their voices to express their truth.  Lupita led us in her native five directions ceremony using Nahuatl names for each of the cardinal directions and calling in PachaMama as the fifth.  We all knelt and put our hands on the Earth in that moment in gratitude for all of her gifts, we – her children – bowing our heads in reverence.

Lupita’s Temazscal Lodge

The natives of the area we were in are known for the mats they weave from a local palm, and Lupita shared the symbolism of the craft.  These woven palm mats are like individuals woven together in community: we are much stronger when we stand together.  Basically, everything this woman said had so much resonance to me it was like a neon blinking sign “PAY ATTENTION” of how much we as a country have strayed as well as the vital importance of standing together now.

My heart felt full, open and broken all at once, and I had tears flowing down my face as I attempted to translate all this amazing woman was saying to my group.  It was just so very poignant in this time, when our country is reeling; and everything this woman was telling us resonated a thousandfold.  It literally brought me to my knees.  Over the next three hours, we were held by this woman we had just met; I mean literally held – she hugged us, sucked toxins out of our heads, held us and bathed us.  Lupita embodied Mother Earth; and we became her children.  The sweat lodge itself is like a big clay oven that symbolizes the womb, and we went inside to sweat out toxins and shed our old selvess and to be birthed and emerge new, cleansed, having let go of the past.
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I encourage you to join me soon for a yoga class where you can move, breathe, and feel your feet on the Earth. In our modern day Northern California “sweat lodge” – I will always teach and hold space for you to shed unwanted layers, reconnect with your heart, and align with the strength we have as a community. Stay strong dear ones!

Yours in the resistance,
Michelle
Posted on: February 16th, 2017 No Comments

Surfing the Waves of Change on the Mat

Michelle Cordero - Common Ground Magazine
Hey I wrote an article for the September 2016 edition of Common Ground Magazine. Check it out here!

Posted on: September 13th, 2016 No Comments

Join My Tribe! Sensual Yoga Leadership Training

Ladies, are you part of a tribe? I thrill at inspiring the women I love to come together for common good and empowerment. In undergrad at Dartmouth College, I created a collective Women’s Theatre Company called “The Untamed Shrews”. We brought pertinent women’s issues to the forefront in our provocative traveling theatre. At the time, women barely made 40% of the student body; times have changed and the issues are surely different yet I understand that the “Shrews” are still performing on campus!

Today in my Sensual Yoga classes and ongoing workshops, I create a safe space for women to play and share their stories. I’ve found that my most powerful connections, ideas and aha moments come when I go inside. I close my eyes and practice a moving meditation and follow the desires of my physical body. I dive deeper into who I am by seeking out what I’m feeling.

Sensual Yoga Leadership training has been in gestation for years now, and I’m so excited to finally be bringing this out into the world.  A powerful blend of what I most love and hold dear:  women’s empowerment, yoga and great music.  This three day training will be an amazingly fun journey unlike any other yoga training.  Every day will start with a powerful sensual yoga practice followed by a diverse range of practices and training exercises I’ve personally designed to help women get to know themselves in a new way. I’ve taken the best of many different teachings and distilled them into what I feel is most essential for being our most authentic feminine self. 

We lead by example, and you will use the gifts of this training in anything you do in the world. Learn to create a safe space for women to relax and go deep into their own movement and sensuality; use music to elicit and experience emotions and move them in a way that creates healing;  find out what type of leader you are so you can better access your personal gift for leadership.  Connect your emotions to our body, EM-Body, so you can relax and begin to feel your innate feminine power.  Take time away from your busy schedule to get to know yourself in a whole new way. Set an intention to begin to develop heightened self confidence, increased sensuality and ease in your body.

When we risk trying something new and different, we free ourselves up to discover new ways of being. The collective energy of the tribe can hold you up when you feel down. From raucous music to whole hearted sharing, we take ourselves to the next level. For more information and to sign up click here.

Posted on: July 3rd, 2016 No Comments

Come with me to Mexico in 2017!

It is my great pleasure to invite you to join me in February 5-11, 2017 for a blissful yoga retreat to Mexico.  When I arrived to lead my retreat this year at this beautiful site, I was stunned by the incredible beauty.  Pictures do not do it justice, and it’s not often that we have our dreams not only met but surpassed.  I’ve been to a lot of beautiful beaches in my life, yet none have moved me as much as this one.  Maybe it’s because I’ve stayed at busy hotels with other tourists…maybe because I’ve never stayed right ON the beach before.  ​12670478_1139147732763038_3922546590701554286_n

The retreat center is simply magical. ​You are surrounded by nature at all times: unobstructed ocean views, majestic blue skies, green plants, ocean breezes, sunshine and tropical air.   The sound of the waves lulls you to sleep.  I dreamt of storms and waterfalls.  Practicing yoga every day, twice a day on the newly constructed yoga platform​ open to the elements facing the vast beachfront​ ​lends toward deeper breathing, greater calm and a sense of oneness with nature.  I had to use all of my vocal training in order to be heard over the sound of the waves.  12745915_1139147679429710_8813866782927948006_n

The food is impeccable:  fresh eggs​ and ​salads from the onsite permaculture farm,​ fish right off the boat,​ aqua ​f​resca in new tempting natural flavor daily, fresh tortillas and avocado with every meal.  It’s the definition of  “fresh mex”​, and​ ​yo​u eat ​o​ceanside in the open air dining area.  Our last night we dined on Pozole, a popular local dish, they even make vegetarian Pozole! Unlimited coconuts to quench your thirst, attention to detail and friendliness to the environment ​even down to details​ like c​loth towels instead of paper, glass straws instead of plastic​ – ​it just​ ​won me over.  And baby turtles!  The neighboring turtle sanctuary brings baby sea turtles over when they hatch, so we had three opportunities to guard these being12717300_1139147766096368_9051900170862589262_n s safely into their new ocean home.  Truly an unforgettable experience. Click here to see more photos.

If you seek to leave your cares behind and be completely pampered in a beautiful natural setting, this is the trip for you. We will dive deep into a nourishing, fun and sometimes challenging yoga practice twice daily. Your hardest choice will be whether or not to leave your chaise lounge for an optional excursion.  Most of our group decided to stay put because frankly, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Every casita faces the ocean and some with sliding walls that can expose or cover you as you wish.  We swam in the ocean every day, playing in the waves, riding the boogie boards provided.  It was absolute bliss, and I cannot wait to go back. For more details and to sign up, click here.

Posted on: May 18th, 2016 No Comments

Cultivate Shakti with Sensual Yoga Leadership Training

When a group of powerful like-minded women from different walks come together, the room vibrates with energy. This is Shakti. According to yogic philosophy, Shakti is the energy of the feminine force; she is pure embodiment and the dance of life. Embrace Shakti and prepare for transformation.   Connecting to Shakti is vital for us to feel balanced and whole, and I fear that we are losing the feminine side of yoga in the West. Classes across the country teach Sun Salutations, but only a select few even know a Moon Salutation exists. The masculine is the strong, heating, direct and linear force; while the feminine strength comes from yielding, finding acceptance and surrender and she enjoys circular movement. Shiva is the still point, and Shakti is the dance.

In my Sensual Yoga classes we explore moving in ways that feel good, following the body’s natural round movements rather than straight lines. I ask students to take a good long feel inside to find out what might be holding them back, or what part of their bodies needs attention and cultivation. I craft my playlists to elicit all types of emotions, because sensuality isn’t just one note. The Goddess Shakti comes in all forms: benevolence, love, fierceness, compassion, power, anger, sadness and deep soulfulness are all Shakti.  I have seen women transform physically over a three day weekend of Sensual Yoga with me. They leave brighter, more embodied and happier because they’ve tapped into something real. Sensual Yoga helps women rediscover parts of themselves they’ve hidden or lost; we learn to move in a whole new way and practice allowing ourselves to be vulnerable in a safe space; we also just have fun together!

Sensual Yoga with Michelle Cordero - Oakland CAI’ve been teaching Sensual Yoga for about five years now.  This movement has made me feel stronger, more vibrant and more comfortable with my body. I have never had so much fun working out.  Initially inspired by pole dancing classes, I’ve made this movement form a little more accessible to the average woman. By taking out the pole and using classical yoga asanas,  we get a fantastic all over body exercise that is like a moving meditation.  Not every woman wants to dance around a pole, but most women would like to feel sexy and reclaim their bodies.  I lead a full yoga class set to an amazing playlist.  I curate the playlist and the movements to help us go deeper, and I add in sensual moves.  Every woman in the room participates, and there are no voyeurs. I invite students to wear clothes that make them feel sexy and vibrant. I feel my body come alive when I move according to her curves and sensations, and set myself free to let her speak.

I am putting out a call for women who are ready to step into leadership in their communities, for women who want to radiate confidence and self love.  This September I will offer the first Sensual Yoga Leadership Training for Women.  I invite you to join me.  There will be something for everyone. For Registered Yoga Teachers (RYT), I will share the fundamentals of leading a mind blowing Sensual Yoga class.  For women who love to move, this training will help to ignite the fire of your passion, creativity and zest for life.  Expect great sensual yoga practices, being pushed to take risks, and to discover new and uncover hidden parts of yourself.  Any good teacher training should require trainees to take risks, to take a good hard look inward to find what is true for you.  The better human being you are, the better teacher.  The more empowered woman you are, the more unstoppable. This training will be a multifaceted approach to becoming a strong leader, an effective facilitator, a confident and empowered woman who knows who she is and what she has to offer the world.

Click here for more info and to register now!

Posted on: May 5th, 2016 No Comments

Perfectly Me

One of the things I dread​ed​ most abou​t taking the Forrest Yoga Advanced Teacher Training (FYATT)​ wa​s teaching a sequence that I was not in control of in front of Ana and my colleagues.  Key word here: CONTROL.  When my turn came, I was sweating buckets and my brain froze. I honestly can’t remember much of what I actually said, but I do remember Ana coming up to me and saying “You are so much better than this, will you give them some of your gifts?”
 Inside, my inner critic went wild: “I have no gifts to give. I’m a complete failure, I suck. I have no idea what to say. When will my time be up? Get me off the stage.”

I went home that night and cried -a lot.  I called friends to commiserate on how horrible and mean Ana Forrest can be, and how unfair that teaching exercise was.  I was ready to bail on the training.  Everyone I called that night wasn’t in the training – they weren’t even in the same state.

I am not a quitter though, and I knew deep down that I may have been overreacting, so I went back.

​There was so much greatness happening every day all around me; ​I wanted to complete this training.
I walked in and immediately Willow, the Lead Assistant, came over to ask how I was doing.  I burst into tears at her kindness and told her about my inner train wreck.  She replied “When you try to be perfect, we don’t get to see who you really are.”  I’ll never forget those words as they changed the course of my experience in that training.
​ The story doesn’t end there though.  Months later, I was talking to Kelley Rush who was also in the room that day.  I said something like  “Well, then Ana yelled at me…”  Kelley stopped me and said, “Wait a second, I was in that room, and Ana never yelled at you.”  I had no retort, no defense.  I realized the truth of it.  Ana saw me and the gifts I have to share.  She knew I could be so much better than the perfect teacher I was trying to be.
All positive…no yelling, no meanness.

My teaching changed for the better at the Advanced Training, and not because I learned to teach and do advanced poses.  I learned to recognize what triggered ​my fight/​flight/​freeze mode and how ​to work with it rather than against it.  I also learned that ​the person​ everyone wanted to show up and teach was Me…not the perfect version of me that lives in my head.

Posted on: January 26th, 2016 1 Comment

Teacher Training – Training for Life

I am about to leave for Advanced Teacher Training with my amazing teacher Ana Forrest. I have been teaching for over twelve years now, completed three different trainings and hundreds of hours of Continuing Ed., but I am still scared! I know this training will be intense physically, and anytime I work with Ana I evolve. Cue David Bowie singing Ch-ch- ch-Changes.

Daily for almost twenty years now, I have practiced gracefully surfing change on my yoga mat. No amount of self help and therapy prepared me better for my biggest adult challenges than my yoga teacher trainings. I follow Ana Forrest’s teachings as well as classical yoga philosophy. I now teach yoga philosophy and the yoga sutras as part of our Stellarflow Teacher Training. Because I frequently feel that my life is fraught with constant change and transitions – some I move through gracefully others I go kicking and screaming – these teachings are my life raft.  They keep me floating on the stormy seas of change.  When we can meet our challenges with curiosity and willingness to bend into uncomfortable shapes, we expand rather than contract. In my experience, there is no greater truth than feeling my breath and aliveness. No matter what transition or card of fate I’ve been dealt, when I stop to breathe I connect to my inner wisdom.  Then I can rest in the seat of my intuition.

When we launched our first Teacher Training two years ago, I felt the trepidation of both starting something new and holding it in such high regard. I had already been teaching for over ten years, and I knew that I had a unique perspective on teaching to share. Yet, it remains a huge responsibility to offer young teachers their foundation. Teaching yoga is a bit like playing the drums – each hand and foot doing something slightly different yet everything coming together to create a solid and steady backbone for the whole composition. In any one moment while teaching I am tracking multiple layers of information: deepening my own breath; seeing anatomical alignment; feeling the energy of the students both as individuals and as a group; talking the class in and out of the asanas in intelligent sequence; and laying healing hands on students. Teaching yoga is always deeply moving, inspiring and rejuvenating for me.

You don’t have to want to teach in order to take part in a yoga teacher training. The only guarantee is that you will not be the same person as when you went in – evolution, baby! I actually believe it can be better to take a foundational teacher training without the pressure of launching a career. Teacher training will take your practice to the next level: learn how to keep yourself safe in any yoga class; figure out how to heal your own injuries; study the philosophy behind the physical practice of yoga. Take concrete steps toward changing your life and your relationships: begin to bring a sense of magic and ceremony into your life through setting intention and creating sacred space; learn to speak with passion, and walk your path with integrity; cultivate a deeper breath and stay grounded in the most challenging of situations.

We have now graduated two classes from our Stellarflow Teacher Training, and many of those graduates are already teaching, a few are assisting me in my classes while others are creating volunteer opportunities to teach yoga in their communities. Many of them are continuing with their careers away from the yoga studio, and simply enjoying the depth of their yoga practice. All of them walk their path with more grace and confidence.

So if you are ready to fast forward your own personal evolution, I invite you to consider teacher training with me and my fantastically skilled colleagues.  Click here for more details.

Posted on: September 10th, 2014 No Comments

Warrior cut leggings, desert backdrop #kiragraceyoga

Posted on: May 19th, 2014 No Comments

Looking Good, Mama!

Just a few weeks ago I went to a rock concert with some of my favorite girlfriends…mind you I am a decade older than the youngest of these women.  We all got carded, and the bouncer checking my ID stared at it for what felt to me like an eternity.  I started to go into my fear, “OMG, I’m so old he can’t even do the math!”   I felt my anger and self righteousness puff up – ready to defend or attack. “Yes, I’m 45 and ancient.”  As I opened my mouth to blast him he said very appreciatively and respectfully, “Looking Good, Mama!”.  I melted.  I giggled and soaked up the sweetness of being seen as an attractive “40-Something” woman.  I was able to take this in as a complement because I have learned to appreciate my femininity as power.  I used to dismiss men who admired me on the street, and tried to have relationships with “safe” pony-tailed yoga boys.  I’d rage at the yoga boys for not being masculine enough and flip off the men on the street for expressing their masculinity…I was angry and didn’t feel empowered. No one was taking my power, I was handing it over unconsciously.

This is the gift I want to share with all of you:  strength from feeling a deeper sense of self respect and true self knowledge; pleasure in understanding how vulnerability and power are linked. When we fully own and express our sensuality, we take off inhibitions, shame, guilt, fear, ignorance, and narrow definitions of beauty or sexiness. Our female sensuality is intimately connected to our creativity, our ability to give birth, to give life on all levels. That is true power.

I want to encourage you to sign up for Sensual Yoga or Shakti Shop and ask your friends to join you.  I will create the safe and empowering space for transformation and a rockin’ good time!  

Come let your hair down, and enjoy a fun yoga flow to great music!

Aho!

Posted on: March 24th, 2014 No Comments

Feb 1, 2014 Sensual Yoga Playlist

Another fantastic group of women came alive, finding their own groove, shake and shimmy plus a few special moves…shh, what happens in SY stays in SY.  Welcome to the sisterhood ladies, here is your playlist!

All is Full of Love 4:49 Bjork 
Colorblind 3:12 Natalie Walker Urban Angel 
Say Yes 4:28 Floetry Floetic 
Beneath Your Beautiful (feat. Emeli Sandé) 4:32 Labrinth 
Skin 5:04 Rihanna Loud
Burning Desire 3:51 Lana Del Rey Paradise 
Yellow Ledbetter 5:03 Pearl Jam 
Seven Nation Army 4:23 Nostalgia 77 The Garden 
Bring Out the Freak In You 3:50 Lil Rob Twelve Eighteen, Pt. 1 
Pony (Extended Mix) 5:20 Ginuwine Ginuwine: Greatest Hits 
murs remakes Kiss by Prince 2:49 
Strip for Me 3:26 Taylor Made Custom Fitted 
Freaks of the Industry 5:41 Digital Underground Sex Packets 
Ain’t Nobody (Breakage’s Suck It Up Mix) 4:58 Clare Maguire Ain’t Nobody (Breakage’s Suck It Up Mix) – 
Too Close 4:17 Alex Clare The Lateness of the Hour 
Smack That (Dirty) 3:32 Akon featuring Eminem Konvicted 
Love Lockdown 4:30 Kanye West 808s & Heartbreak 
Wonderwall 4:08 Ryan Adams Love Is Hell, Pt. 1
Let It Go 3:57 Matt Morris When Everything Breaks Open 

Posted on: February 3rd, 2014 No Comments