March 20 2020
Megan Merriam is a yoga teacher at HotShop Hot Yoga in Calgary, AB. She is also a founder of altr, a 200 hour Yoga Alliance certified yoga teacher training. She tells us how her practice has transformed from when she first set foot on her mat to now - a journey from physical exercise to an alignment of energy, breath, feelings and emotions. Read about altr and about how her students have inspired her in a more ways than she ever thought possible.
Yoga doesn't have to be just about the poses on your mat, it can be so much more than that and we love how Megan embodies that!
I initially started yoga as a physical exercise. The first class I attended was hot yoga and it instantly became my obsession! I loved the feeling of sweating like crazy, challenging my body by moving in different ways, learning new poses and just overall feeling like I worked really hard. I also felt a connection and bond with my teachers and I wanted to be just like them. After I took my 200 hour teacher training where I learned so much more about the practice, and I began my deeper understand of why I loved yoga. I still love hot yoga and challenging my body on the mat but I think now I am more aware of the nuance of my energy, breath, feelings and emotions and how that all translates when I step off my mat. Just like life, my practice is in a constant state of evolution; I just try to stay present and open to what that looks like!
How has yoga positively impacted your life?
It’s impossible for me to picture my life without yoga. I feel very fortunate to teach yoga as part of my profession and that I get to show up to a “job” that almost never feels like work (even cleaning the studio floors is fun with the right music!). I love to travel and yoga has opened up the opportunity to experience some pretty cool places from unique perspectives. Yoga has also always been a tool to support my health - physical, mental, emotional - a big support through tough times or darkness and bringing me back to place of light. As I continue to think on this question - the number one thing that comes up for me are the people who have come into my life through yoga. I have a hard time putting into words the gratitude I have for the community that yoga brings together - from the inspiring humans from different parts of the globe who I study with and teach alongside and the students who come to class and share so much of themselves. These people have become family and I feel like that is pretty positive, right?!
altr is a yoga teacher training school! We run 200-hour teacher training courses in Calgary and will hopefully be hosting our first international training in Dubai this year! We also facilitate continuing education programs and workshops for teachers and students of yoga. Also, we will be adding retreats to our offering very soon! I get to work alongside some really inspiring teachers and teach wonderful students all who make up the altr community!
What do you love most teacher training?
My favorite thing about training is meeting everyone on the first day and watching how they transform throughout the course. On the last weekend of our 200 hour program, each student has the opportunity to teach a full 60 minute class and it is SO inspiring to see them up there, sharing their yoga with us. There are so many times where I feel like my students are teaching me more than I could ever teach them. Yogis rock.
Left - Bra: Maaji Mirage Sunburst // Leggings: Daub + Design Signature Glacier Legging | Right - Top: Free Label Golden Jaimee Tee // Legging: Maaji Dazeful High Tulip Sepia
What is the most challenging aspect of teacher training?
Yoga teacher training is definitely a wild ride. Each program is individually designed and everyone goes through the experience in their own way. We all come from different pasts, we are working through different things and no one really know what is going to come up on this journey for themselves. As you hit breaking points throughout training, physically/emotionally/mentally, the biggest challenge is often just sitting in those moments. Dropping expectations and opening up your heart and mind to the experience is really my best advice for anyone thinking about diving into this journey!
Since making yoga your career, has it been difficult to carve out the time to keep up with your personal practice?
My personal asana practice (yoga poses) tends to come and go in waves. There are times when it feels like I have ALL the time to practice and then other times when it seems impossible to roll out my mat. I definitely prioritize my practice but I have learned now that sometimes it just looks different. Driving out to the mountains to simply breathe outside of the city can be my yoga. Sometimes it’s sitting in meditations with candles in the morning. A friend recently introduced me to mandalas so even creating those from time to time has become part of my practice! Yoga transcends more than the physical - so nurturing the practice of mindfulness in whatever form has become a daily ritual!
Top: Good HYOUman - The Bailey, Breathe
We know you travel quite a bit. What is your best piece of advice to maintain a balanced and healthy lifestyle when traveling?
Depending on the length of my stay, I almost always seek out a nearby studio. Whether that is for yoga or more of a fitness class, there are usually lots of options. Most studios offer deals on first classes or weekly, monthly passes so it can make checking out new studios on the road more affordable! I love staying active when I travel whether that’s through exploring on foot, planning activities like surfing, hiking, biking. And if you give me a little sunshine and a nice space to roll out my mat, a mini stretch is always an option! And if you don’t have a travel mat, a towel works just fine for a quick home practice! Food culture is one of my favorite parts about travel, so to maintain balance and still enjoy all of the yummy food, I try to plan for at least one healthy meal a day which is usually breakfast before I am tempted with everything else!
I have been so lucky to teach and train in a few different places. Home base has always been Calgary and I love it here. I took my 200-hour training in Maui where I stayed for a month to complete the course. It was beautiful and I would love to go through that whole experience again, knowing everything I know now, eyes wide open! I also taught and trained in Dubai for 2 years which was definitely a pivotal point in my life. It was my first experience living away from Calgary in a super unknown territory for me; honestly, I thrived in ways I never thought possible! I could probably write a novel on why I loved my experience in Dubai so much but to keep it light - beach club yoga is neat. Over the past few years I have been spending more time in the U.S. where I recently completed my 300-hour advanced training in San Francisco. It was wonderful being a student and definitely inspired me to keep learning and evolving.
Goals! Ah! Thank you for this question because I need to dive a bit deeper into this one BUT I have loosely put together some thoughts:
Personal: I love inversions and I have let my daily practice slide so I really want to get back into that and master pike press this year!
Work: We are launching dates for an altr 200-hour Dubai training to run through November this year. My goal is to fill this training and keep growing the altr community! Also to launch altr retreats by early next year!
Growth: I would love to get a daily meditation practice set into my routine. I feel like I have a lot of big hopes and dreams I want to take flight, but with that come a sense of disconnect. I think grounding back down and working from a stronger foundation will support me best in creating the life I envision for myself.
You can find me on instagram @megankathleen_
I teach classes at HotShop Victoria Park studio @hotshopyyc // https://hot-shop.ca
and you can train with me at altr yoga! @altryoga // https://altryoga.com