Morning sunshine floods the airy, open room, dressed up with floating feathers. The gently drifting swirls are propelled by the exhalations of rosy-cheeked, sparkly eyed children, roughly ages three to five. It’s Kids Yoga at the Family Garden, and instructor Brie Michalik guides her students with captivating energy that matches and adapts to their every step.
Don’t be let Brie’s spirited playfulness or seeming ease in poses reminiscent of Cirque de Soleil fool you. The Wellness Consultant, Personal Trainer, Yoga Instructor, and Craft Yoga Founder is a powerhouse of tenacity, strength and drive. She has achieved a vast wealth of skills, knowledge, and the entrepreneurial lifestyle she set her sights on through diligence, intense focus, and hard-earned experience.
Upon graduating high school early with a 4.0, many expected Brie to follow a university track, but she was determined to carve her path her own way. She moved to Frisco, where she went snowboarding everyday, and also read up on accountancy, earned an associates degree in business. A few years later, she launched herself as an independent contractor as she was about to become a single mom. “We learn in life that the easy way and the right way aren’t really the same,” Brie reflects. “You need to be true to what you actually want out of your life. I’ve definitely had my share of setbacks and difficulties, but I wouldn’t change it. I love what I do, I love being a single mom, I love my life. Planning out logistics is always important, but leaps of faith are more important.”
Since she was ten years old, yoga has been a meaningful part of Brie’s life. What initially drew her was the practice of meditation. “There was this little store where I saw these buddha statues that really intrigued me. They cost a lot, about $40, but I started saving up for them and eventually earned enough to buy some. I didn’t know what they were about, but they calmed me. They made me focus on a peaceful life, something I was aware even as a young child that I was after and that everyone deserves.”
When Brie was thirteen, her mother took her to her first official yoga class. “It was hot yoga, and summertime in Arizona,” she reminisces. “I hadn’t realized yoga could be physically intense like that. It was not what I expected.” Brie’s focused yoga and meditation practice became an anchor over the years, supporting her through injury, pregnancy and recovery. “I’ve had a decent amount of injuries,” Brie says, “and every time, yoga is what gets me back. I also had an amazing experience with prenatal yoga and and an amazing labor experience that I think was really impacted by my practice.” Now, Brie’s daughter Evelynn (Evey), age seven, enjoys yoga too, and the bonding shared experience is truly priceless.
Yoga may have been established itself in Brie’s life early on, yet she confesses she didn’t see herself becoming a yoga teacher until she realized she already was one. “I don’t really wear earth tones, for one thing,” she says jokingly. “I’m certainly unconventional in my approach. Now, I realize that my non-traditional approach is a big part of the healthy attendance in my classes. It’s like a Bruce Lee quote I love, ‘Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and then duplicate it’. It’s uniqueness that brings people back.”
Last year, Brie established Craft Yoga, the seed of her nonprofit, to help create community and change through yoga. Craft Yoga classes consist of 45 minutes of all levels yoga flow. They are always free, but donations are accepted and benefit different causes each time. She has teamed up with local businesses including Left Hand Brewery and The Roost, the site of her first official Craft Yoga session last June. “Oftentimes the classes are not what people expect for their Sunday morning,” Brie says. “The poses and sequencing are hard, but there are lots of smiles and laughs, and everyone leaves feeling powerful.”
Inspiration for Craft Yoga has deep roots drawing from longtime volunteerism, and an unexpected catalyst that stemmed from tooth pain. Growing up, Brie and her brother volunteered for Project Angel Heart in Denver. The moving experience compelled her to volunteer at various organizations independently from the time she was sixteen. Then one day, in 2014, she was hit with extreme tooth pain and ended up getting an appointment with a dentist in Brighton. “He didn’t charge me anything,” she says. “I was so grateful and blown away, and he said, ‘we all have something to give.’ I never forgot that. He planted a seed. I realized, I don’t have a lot of money to donate to causes I support, but I can teach free yoga classes and apply any donations to them. That is something I can do. I’ve taught a lot of free yoga since then, and I never feel like it’s a waste of my time, ever. It’s so much fun, and I notice a lot of pay-it-forward energy from it.”
This summer, Brie is offering two free family yoga sessions at Thompson Park, as well as Craft Yoga at Left Hand. Find out more at briescraft.com and follow her Facebook page for more events info plus tips and tidbits.
Thank you for sharing, Brie, and for the many seeds you are continually planting in our #HealthyLongmont community!
LWL: What does your personal fitness routine look like?
Brie: I practice yoga every day, but it always looks different. It has to–I’m self-employed and a mom. I make it a priority to practice meditation every day. Meditation is my number one. You can actually make a lot of physical changes, changing patterns and habits, by not moving at all. It’s amazing. Physically, I practice asana 5 times a week, go for a run or to the gym or do a workout DVD once a week. I always like to pick new poses to learn. Practicing what you preach so important. But it has to be adaptable.
LWL: How do you prioritize healthy eating and active living as a family with your daughter?
Brie: We do a lot of partner yoga. Evey is a little yogi. I’ve never forced it on her, but she loves it. Yoga sparks her interest, and it’s such great connection for us. She is so strong. Eating is so, so important. It’s disheartening how many kids can’t name vegetables. Evey loves to eat tomatoes like apples. She has a lot of choice–she doesn’t like Brussel’s sprouts so I don’t push it on her. She’ll eat asparagus, all kinds of different vegetables. Options are important. And family dinner–every time we eat together we have conversations. We ask each other, what was the best part of your day, and what was the worst? Sometimes we can’t think of a worst part, which is so great, but both are important avenues of communication.
LWL: What is your favorite healthy food?
Brie: Lately I’ve been just loving GT’s Synergy kombucha. Something I always have in the house…mushrooms, kale and gala apples. Those are my staples.
LWL: What do you treasure most about Longmont?
Brie: When I first found out I was moving here, I was not enthused. It didn’t take even a year to really fall in love with this town. It’s such a great community. I see so many people I know everywhere I go. There’s so much support for small business owners.
LWL: What would you like to see develop in Longmont’s healthy future?
Brie: One thing that kinds of bums me out regardless of where I go is littering. Our children deserve a clean place to play. The city is doing a great job of setting us up with great resources. Keeping them that way is up to all of us.