about mjh

“Serve, Love, Give, Pray, Meditate, Realize”
— Swami Sivananda

Michael is the director of DC Ashtanga, a mysore style ashtanga yoga program in Columbia Heights, DC and owner of miDCity Yoga, a small business specializing in in-house yoga instruction.

A level 2 authorized teacher of ashtanga yoga, Michael received the go-ahead to teach by R. Sharath Jois, the director of the K. Pattahbi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute. Michael continues to return to Mysore to study with his teacher.

Michael has a great love of the vast field of study that is yoga, an interest that is invaluably supported by his teachers, David Garrigues, as well Rolf and Marci Naujokat. Michael also is indebted deeply to the love and care that was put into his practice early on by Kristina Maze, in the Sivanada tradition, and Kristen Krash, in the Iyengar method.

Michael grew up in a rural farming and fishing community, and did his undergraduate work in nonprofit public relations at george mason university.  He also has a background in comedy club hospitality [dc improv] that makes him think he’s funny. He isn’t.


 

“Like Oscar Wilde goes to Sesame Street,” says one long-term teacher.

…pssst…. wanna get into it for real?

Oh good…. you’re still here. Like I said, I’m Michael! I like colors, bicycles, playing on the water, short-shorts, pop music, yoga and fun. I enjoy novels with complex characters, riveting prose, and strong word play. I actually don’t read nearly enough of that kind of stuff, because I consume a ton of short-form content and non-fiction. I spend way too much time reading think pieces on social justice. I spend a similar amount of time formulating media criticisms that largely stay in my head.

I grew up in a rural farming and fishing community, where I was an over-weight nerd who spent too much time on the computer. Having a computer was a huge deal. This was the time of dial-up, people! Erm, I should prolly fess up to the fact that now I’m an appropriately weighted nerd who still spends too much time on the computer.

To give you an idea of where I’m from, the whole county went to one high school, and more than  80% was on the free lunch program– no one was “rollin in the dough”. More like rolling in cow-shit and hay. We had one stop light, and our road wasn’t paved. I knew I was gay then, and living so far away from folks, I made a lot of friends my age who were also gay on the internet. It gave me a very real sense of community and probably kept me from killing myself.

My parents made me try every sport under the sun (and I was bad at most), before I ended up discovering how much I loved football and skating. I played football and hockey throughout my adolescence, which kept me from getting beat up all the time, and I also competed on the national level in public oratory. My football coaches were all so amazing, they let me leave practice early sometimes to go to theater rehearsal. I had some really good mentors coming up.

By the by, I still like picking up heavy things (and putting them down) and running my mouth to those that will listen.

My relationships are very important to me– I love my parents, my friends, and my pets. Mom and Dad are fantastic, and I’ve had some of my closest friends for more than half my life (though, I’m not *so* old yet).

I’ve always been a self-guided learner, and really love digging into what I love digging into– and not so much what I don’t. Thank goodness I’m fascinated by yoga philosophy and human movement. I probably should have gone to school for one of those things, but instead, I was in the New Century College at George Mason University, where the degree was in “integrative studies” — but really,  it was public relations focusing on non-profit work.

I wanted to be a force for good in the world, but also had some communications savvy. At the time, what I specialized in was called “new media” — but now, folks call it “social media”. Those friends on the internet, that kind of community building, it turned out to be pretty useful. Now, I tow the line between feeling like this stuff is inauthentic and super manipulative… and thinking a lot of it is really freakin’ swell.

Working at a comedy club, and having friends that bartended at music venues, really upped my appreciation for live entertainment and performance art. Comedy, music, theater, burlesque. You name it. One of the great things about living in Washington, DC is just how much of this stuff we have. It’s great. I love DC very much. I mean, c’mon, we’ve got the Smithsonian Institute right here. SO MUCH ART.

I started traveling to India in 2011, digging more deeply into a system of yoga called “Ashtanga.” I’ve had some incredible teachers over the years, and as someone who has trouble believing what he hasn’t seen with his own eyes (and who likes to learn from someone’s teacher… and then their teacher… and then their teacher…), I ended up practicing under the eyes of Sharath Jois at the KPJ Ashtanga Yoga Institute.

I had been teaching yoga already for some time, but I found something to be really resonant with this experience, with this practice, and with that teacher. I continue my studies there to this day. As a matter of fact, my teacher gave me the go-ahead to teach the method as I’d been taught it, and that’s what I’ve been doing. If you’re interested, ashtanga yoga is a radical, simple insight practice that anyone can learn.

I’m still an integrative studies kind of guy, and as such, have sought out the guidance of people who have been doing this thing a lot longer than me. They’re really smart, and have shared so much that it almost cheapens it to try to put in words how much I’ve learned (and still have to learn). Like my coaches in High School, mentorship is important to me (and I try to give back in this way, also). Anyway, I’m super grateful.

I’ve seen some really harrowing, fucked up shit in my life, too. We all have. I really believe that inside all of that terrible ugliness there is still a profound and extreme beauty. As RuPaul says, “none of us are getting out of here alive, and none of us are making it out without getting a little dirty.” True words.

I have no great love for dishonesty, bullshit, or malarky and I don’t think that the ruling class or majority should be in charge of establishing the rights for the minority. I believe very strongly in social justice. As a gay white male, I experience a great amount of intersection between being in some ways privileged and in other ways oppressed. “When the tide comes in, all boats are lifted”– and with that in mind, I try to make sure the tide is coming in for everybody.

Yoga’s really good for getting a look at that stuff.

Let’s see? I said that I loved my mom and dad (I even really like ‘em), I have incredible friends, and that I love animals like crazy (especially my little rescue mutt-kins Charlie)… I guess that’s about it. I still run and jump and row and play. I try to take on projects that challenge and scare me (like olympic weightlifting, marathon running and singing)– and I enjoy seeing all the different ways the world interconnects and intersects. I don’t dance as much as I used to, which is prolly cause all the good dancing happens really late.

If you want to know the rurl srs bidness, you can look below.

xoxo,

mjh

(actually, thats a lie. I still dance like crazy– just mostly at home with the dog running around).