At Manduka, we were founded on the simple concept of creating a foundation to support those (teachers, studios, community guides) who Inspire the Practice. The yoga teachers and studios inspire more than they will ever know. They become people and places of familiarity, comfort, community, and joy. They help create strength in the chaos. They push us when needed and grant space when it's best. They facilitate our own 'moments' on and off the mat.
Quite simply, they are our inspiration.
With that, we continue our “Inspire the Practice” campaign with celebrating teachers from Maui, HI, to Los Angeles, CA, to Miami, FL, to Evergreen, CO, by telling their stories. As they have gotten to know us, we now ask about them. Who are they? Why are they doing this work? What is their mission? What makes them laugh? What music do they like? What do they like to do when they are not leading our communities? What inspires THEM?
Manduka is grateful for the thousands of teachers and studios who make it part of their life 's work to create a sanctuary for us to move our bodies, free our minds, and find peace. Even if for a moment, we honor you and say thank YOU for Inspiring the Practice. Inspiration is what unites us all to make ourselves and this world a better place. Let's take off on this journey together to celebrate those that #InspirethePractice.
WHY WE 'RE INSPIRED
Born in Santa Barbara, CA, Mychal is an ex-collegiate athlete who has studied Kinesiology/Exercise Science since 2008. Mychal is known for his ability to help his students build strength, body-awareness, & self-confidence through the use of mindful movement including: Kettlebells, Yoga, + Animal Flow. Mychal has been on the spiritual path for many years now and has spent time studying with Indigenous cultures such as the Yawanawa, and plant medicines native to North America as well as the Amazon. He incorporates elements of Shamanism throughout all of his practices, including sound healing, movement, and breathing. Enjoy a reflection from him, below.
- Name: Mychal V. Prieto
- Residence: Los Angeles, CA
- Occupation: Personal Trainer, Lifestyle Coach, and Yoga Instructor
- Cause: Children of the Rainforest
WORDS FROM MYCHAL
I am Mychal V. Prieto, I have been a student of Yoga since age 18, and a teacher since 2017. As a collegiate student athlete, I studied Kinesiology + Exercise Science and have always had a fascination with movement of the human body. Over the past 10 years, I have coached and trained many students using a variety of modalities including: Kettlebells, Yoga, Animal Flow. In my early years of working as a Personal Trainer, as I deepened my Yoga practice, there was an essence of ‘truthfulness,’ that I could feel I was tapping into. A remembrance, a feeling of coming home to, movement towards wholeness and unity, ‘Yoga.’ I had no idea where this path was going to lead me to, but I do remember on the first day of my teacher training in the south of Spain, surrounded by beautiful rolling mountains that reminded me of home and a group of strangers knowing so deeply in my being that I was exactly where I needed to be at that moment in life. I teach for others as much as I teach for myself. Drawing inspiration from others while inspiring along the way. I have dedicated my life to this practice and all of its extraordinary limbs so that each day I can continue moving in the direction of wholeness, ‘be’-ing in that state, and being a living embodiment of the science, technology, wisdom, and practice that is Yoga.
Hiking alone with myself, my thoughts, & my breath I was reflecting on my journey as a yoga teacher & how this practice has influenced my life. Why do I practice? Why do I teach? Why have I dedicated my life to this practice? The short answer to all those questions is the definition of Yoga itself, union. I practice, share, & teach yoga because of yoga.
Like yourself, I have been given the greatest gift one could receive, the experience of life within the human body & mind. In 33 years of existence & observation I have had many realizations & contemplations. Last year I had the privilege of spending six weeks in the Amazonian jungle. I disconnected from the outside world to deeply connect within, spending much time in solitude, away from light, noise, air, media, and mind pollution. With me, among the few tools that I brought were my Manduka travel mat, & a book by Anand Mehrotra called, “This is That,” a radical interpretation of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, Padas 1 & 2. I dedicated multiple hours daily to practice and study. A precious & peaceful time in my life that I will forever be grateful for. A common thread that I noticed embedded within the teachings of Yoga & Indigenous cultures is the concept of Union and Oneness.
As I left the Brazil & returned home to L.A., there was something very clear that I could see & feel embedded within society. The illusion of separation, the ‘maya,’ in which most of the world is living in & has bought-in to. I realized that I too had been living under this illusion for most of my life. A prisoner in a cave as depicted in ‘Plato’s Allegory of the Cave.’ For myself, my practice & studies of Yoga have been glimpses of light. Especially after my time in the jungle. I practice Yoga because it allows me to remember who I truly am. Whole, liberated, & free. I share & teach Yoga in the hopes that I reflect to others the same realizations within themselves. We are but mirrors for one another, walking each other home. Teaching allows me the extraordinary opportunity to share my light & for others to recognize, remember, & feel the light within themselves. No longer imprisoned & entangled by the web of illusion. Shine bright. Namaste.
PRACTICE WITH MYCHAL
In this 30 minute practice, we will open up with a few grounding breaths followed by Kapalabhati kriya. We will then journey through a 15-min Empowerment Flow inspired by the beautiful mountains of southern Montana. Let your breath guide your practice, see you on the mat!
“Be the change you with to see in the world, and allow your practice to divinely guide your thoughts, your words, and your actions from a place of unconditional love and compassion. Namaste, Ometeotl.”
As part of our Inspire the Practice campaign with Mychal, Manduka has donated $2500 to the Children of the Rainforest.
The Children of the Rainforest is a registered 501(C)(3) non-profit in the United States whom believe by protecting the Amazon Rainforest, all life on earth is nurtured. Their mission is to help the Yawanawa protect and care for 500,000 acres of Amazon Rainforest. Mychal is inspired to support this non-profit from the impact the Amazon Rainforest had on him and his yoga practice. He has recommended that we donate to this charity to support him, and we are more than happy to.