In our series Fit Chicks, we chat with female fitness bloggers, athletes and trainers from all over the country. Equipped with their collective experience, expertise and practical tips, you’ll be happy to know that a healthier lifestyle is right around the corner.
Name: Melissa Scott
Business/Blog: Melissa Scott Yoga
Location: Birmingham, Alabama
Paste Health: What’s your journey with yoga? When did you start getting into it?
Melissa Scott: I started doing yoga when I was 20. I was a dancer my whole life, so I grew up doing ballet and in college I studied other types of dance. Somebody who I danced with suggested I start doing yoga to supplement my dance training, because it was very popular with dancers at the time. I had no idea that it would become my whole life. Right before I graduated college, I had a pretty significant injury to my ankle in a dance class. I fell during a jump and my ankle popped. The first thought in my head was, “I’ll never dance again.” That was true. Yoga became a part of my rehab process from that injury and since I couldn’t dance anymore, it became my primary outlet. I had an eating disorder for about ten years, so at the time I was deeply engrossed in the disorder, and yoga became one of the ways I healed from that. When I got healthy, I knew I needed to share that with other people. So I started teacher training and I’ve been teaching for almost ten years.
PH: Do you have a word of encouragement or any other advice for people who are struggling with eating disorders?
MS: The biggest thing I would want people struggling with it or in early recovery is to know that health and healing are absolutely possible. Recovery is possible. Don’t give up on that pursuit of health. Remember that your value as a person is so much bigger than your body, what food you eat or how much you exercise. Keep working and keep trying. Find support—I’m a huge believer in therapy and finding professionals who can help you. Look for those people who will support you in that process.
PH: Your specialty is Core Strength Vinyasa. For those who don’t really know what that means, can you explain it?
MS: It’s a flow style of yoga that’s based on the idea of inner strength. When we talk about core, we’re not talking about abs. We’re talking about inner body muscles and internal strength. That’s where the practice moves from: those deeper, inner muscles. It’s an anatomically optimized style of flow that looks really different from the traditional yoga process. It’s really cool, revolutionary and different. It has some pretty profound impacts on the way people relate to their bodies.
PH: What are some of those differences and effects you’ve seen in your clients
MS: Mostly people report feeling more holistic strength. They start to feel their body move as all one piece rather than different parts. They also share that their joints feel healthier and that they feel less compression in their joints in their practice. They just feel a lot stronger and a lot more integrated. That’s pretty powerful. If you can do that on the physical level, you can do that on the spiritual and emotional levels as well.
PH: Do you exercise in other ways besides yoga?
MS: Absolutely. I will move in any way my body will let me. I took a spin class this morning and in the past few months I’ve really gotten into rock climbing. I’m loving that and it helps me stay really strong. I love to hike here and there. Movement is my practice. Movement is the way I cherish the world so I’m going to move in any and all ways my body will let me.
PH: Are there any misconceptions about yoga you’d like to dispel right now?
MS: I actually just wrote a blog post about this. I think the biggest misconception about yoga is that you have to be good at it before you start it. I hear people say things like, “I can’t do yoga because I can’t touch my toes.” That’s like saying, “I can’t drink water because I’m too thirsty.” That’s not the point. What I want people to know is that you can show up and be a beginner with no experience in any type of movement at all, let alone yoga. You can have really amazing benefits and grow in your practice, get stronger, and be more flexible. That can start on day one no matter where you’re coming from.
PH: What does nutrition look like for you? Do you have any go-to healthy meals or snacks? Any favorite treats?
MS: Nutrition has been a process for me, especially coming from an eating disorder. A big part of recovery is knowing what works for your body. The way I eat is really intuitive and based on what I feel like my needs are for the day, which I think is the healthiest way to relate to food. I say the basis of my diet is greens and protein, so if I have a good serving of protein at every meal and a couple servings of greens every day, I usually feel pretty good. I definitely let myself have treats. I’m a big fan of dark chocolate, so that’s not off the menu at all. As far as the everyday goes, I love a smoothie with protein powder. I love fish, veggies, and fruit. But chocolate is my one vice. I don’t do alcohol, I don’t do caffeine, so chocolate is it.
PH: What’s your favorite yoga pose?
MS: That’s like picking my favorite child. A big one for me was forearm balance, which is an inversion. That pose was a huge deal for me because for all of my life, I had a story in my head about myself that I wasn’t very strong, that I wasn’t a physically strong person. The first time I held that pose, when I held my body weight with my upper body, it was kind of mind-boggling. It gave me evidence that maybe this story about myself wasn’t totally accurate. It opened a new door to understanding myself as a strong person. That pose is my favorite in that it was the most meaningful for me.
PH: What are some tips you have for people who want to live a healthy lifestyle but don’t really know how to start?
MS: A couple of things. First I would say to be open to exploration. Don’t think you’re going to find the thing you love the very first time you walk into a gym or a yoga studio. There is something out there for everybody, but sometimes you might have to look for a little while. Once you find that thing that you love, do it consistently and make sure it’s a part of your life at least three to four days a week. Make sure that you’re always doing things that bring you joy. If you love it, and it makes you feel great, you’re much more likely to do it. My last thing is to make small changes at a time. If you try to do everything overnight, it’s probably not going to stick. Small changes over time can lead to huge, wonderful outcomes.
PH: What are some of your goals for the rest of the year?
MS: My first book is coming out in September. It’s a book of essays about yoga, life and other things. One of my major goals right now is to get that book out and share it with as many people as possible. I’m very excited about that.
PH: What’s the book called?
MS: It’s called White Girl in Yoga Pants. It will be available for pre-order in early August. Beyond that, I would love to create more online yoga content so people can practice at home or in places where they feel good so they don’t have to go to a studio, but can still get the benefits of yoga.
McGee Nall is a freelance writer based out of Athens, Georgia. She was probably eating Nilla wafers and Nutella while writing this.