Michael Johnson is a compelling mix of creative yoga instructor and curious student of the mind. The root of his interest in meditation lies in its ability to help with neurological disorders and for developing wellbeing.
Michael’s worldview and meditation practiced changed when he read Buddha’s Brain by Rick Hanson and Richard Mendius. In this book, they explain how we can literally reshape our brain for greater happiness, love and wisdom through a combination of modern science and ancient teachings. Implementing these teachings into his own life, Michael eventually divested himself of the dogmatic & religious interpretations of meditation and instead focused on a more scientific approach.
Mettā Meditation, begins October 13. According to Michael, “Mettā means the combination of kindness, compassion, gratitude and patience-all in one. It is a meditation technique used for developing these states so they can occur with greater ease and frequency.” When you look at it from a neuroscientific perspective, cultivating these positive emotions proactively builds new connections between neurons, increases gray matter in key areas and primes our consciousness to respond with kindness for the next person you meet as well as the person you’re trying to heal a relationship with.
“Vipassanā is more like pruning, ridding ourself of weeds or bad habits that have accumulated in our mind. So the two meditation techniques go hand in hand. One is like clearing weeds and the other is for planting seeds.” he says. Find out more about how you can develop inner peace, better relationships and a positive outlook on life by registering for the Mettā workshop at youryoga.com.
Also interested in the advantages of the combination of pranayama and music during a practice, Michael and his wife, Stephanie, formed a project called Ösel to share their love of music and kirtan. Ösel provides original music with creative rhythms using a wide range of instruments, traditional Sanskrit mantra and poetry. Each album is 108, 120 or 130 beats per minute to compliment Ujjāyī breathing. Their albums are available for purchase in the Asheville Yoga Boutique. Their next Kirtan at AYC is Oct 8th from 2-4pm by donation.
Michael understands that for beginners, it can be difficult to consistently make it to yoga classes. His advice to new practitioners is “Doing anything for the first time takes a lot of courage. There are a million reasons not to, but if you can just get through the door, take the class and have the experience, you’ll find it’s totally worth the time. It also helps to come with a friend. A lot of people come to yoga class, not to prove anything, but rather to feel a sense of connection and peace of mind that’s hard to get anywhere else. That’s, I think, why people keep coming back to classes.” So if you’re feeling a bit lost in finding your stride in your practice, or even are an established yogi looking to further the depth of your practice, we here at AYC recommend you attend any of Michael’s classes and workshops. He has a massive following of dedicated students not only because of his wisdom and experience as an instructor, but also because of his raw understanding of what it means to be human with all of the complexities of attempting to successfully navigate our emotions and this world we live in. Find out more about the services he offers and his class schedules at clearlightyoga.com and youryoga.com.