Teacher Spotlight: A little bit more about Melissa Luyben!

Hi Melissa! It’s been so fun getting to know you! Tell us a little more about the elegant Melissa…

I am a Long Beach native, grew up right across the street from Long Beach State. As a child, I used to ride my bike all over the area and down to 2nd street with my dad, sister, and brother. I graduated from Wilson H.S. and then went to San Diego State on a full-ride volleyball scholarship.

Wow, I didn’t know you played volleyball in college! Awesome!

Yes it was pretty intense! I loved to travel, so after graduation, I spent a year in Spain teaching English. I later went back to graduate school at Chapman and in 2013, I completed my master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy. I’ve been married to my lovely husband, Joe, for almost 8 years and we have a 6-year-old son named J.D. Joe is more of a restorative yogi and JD likes practicing kids yoga. (I’m the hot yogi!)

When did you discover Bikram yoga?

It was totally by accident. I took my first Bikram class in 2003. I really enjoy going to the movies, and one day I parked underground and noticed the studio on the way to the theater. I read the flyer on what to expect and knew I had to try it. My first class was a rollercoaster ride. I truly felt I was dying and left the room around the end of standing head to knee. In the lobby, I realized I was nowhere near death but actually felt fantastic and more alive than ever. I finished the class and was committed to practicing regularly right off the bat.

What were the early days like at the studio and what inspired you to attend Teacher Training?

When I think back to the old days at the studio they actually feel similar to the studio now in a lot of ways. I remember practicing with Hobey at 6am before going to work, and also practicing the advanced series with Rosario. We would practice kundalini and meditate early or drive up to headquarters to get in a class with Bikram and Emmy. What’s similar for me is that there’s always been a wonderful community here at this studio and a positive and uplifting vibe. I’ve had the pleasure, over the years, of getting to know great people who love yoga and love life.

I was inspired to attend teacher training after a 3-week trip to India with Bikram and 40 other yogis. It was amazing! We practiced yoga at the Taj Mahal, rode on elephants, visited Bikram’s family in Calcutta, and saw a ton of cows cruising around. My life course changed dramatically after that trip: I quit my office job and signed up for the next teacher training that Spring.

Wow that sounds amazing. How would you describe your practice over the years?

My practice has definitely changed over the years. When I first started off, I focused most of my attention on the physical asanas. I saw tremendous change in my body and the postures themselves during the first three years. As time has gone on, my focus has shifted to my breath, alignment, or even to just the mental battle of staying in the room. What I notice most now is that my practice is a moving meditation that involves my entire being: my body, mind, and spirit are communicating together during each class.

Is there a time in your life when you would say your practice “saved” you?

Bikram yoga liberated me in a lot of ways. I am who I am today because of this practice and I deeply value all the magical ways my life has improved because of this studio. Yoga has brought me so much joy, clarity, healing, and friendship. Even though we are sweating and working hard, there are so many moments of laughter, peace, and power that happen during class.

How would you describe your teaching style and what can students expect from you in class?

I would describe my teaching style as traditional and I work to hold space for students of all levels to grow and excel. I’m committed to honor what Yogananda, Bishnu-Ghosh, and Bikram created. I really feel that the sequence and instruction that has been passed down is a gift. When I teach, I’m there to serve the students however I can, whether that means a personal correction, compliment, or maybe even a 1-minute camel. I set the intention each class to be present with the students and support them any way that I can.

What’s something we don’t know about you?

Something you may not know about me is that I love going to Disneyland! Having grown up in Long Beach, we went all the time, and now that I have a son, we make it a regular experience. I still get super excited to go on Pirates of the Caribbean and Thunder Mountain. Thankfully, my husband enjoys going too.

What would you like your students to know about you?

I want the students to know how much I appreciate them. Over the last 15 years, this place has uplifted me and supported me through life’s ups and downs. I am so grateful for every student and teacher I’ve spent time with in class. I feel truly blessed to be a part of this community.


There are 6 comments

  1. Lydia

    Great story! Love Melissa! She is a wonderful teacher!

  2. Daal

    From the first class I took from Melissa, I knew she is awesome in every way!!! Now I’m happy to know that even more so! We are all so fortunate to have her as our teacher as well as a lovely person to touch our lives.

  3. Karrie

    This story is awesome!! I love the 1 minute came th at we do with Melissa. Sunday’s are one of my favorite days because of her and the practice. It gets me aligned and ready for my 4 days a week week of intense workouts!

  4. Karrie

    *camel that we do. Sorry foe the typos!!

  5. Liz Wilk

    ????Melissa and her fluid and natural flow and rhythm of teaching..she really has a gentle way about her..I feel lucky to know her and have her as an instructor..
    Thanks for being so great..????????

  6. Melissa Luyben

    Thank you so much everyone for the kind words. I really appreciate it! I’m so honored to practice with you and lead you through class. Being a part of this community is a huge blessing in my life. Thank you again and I’ll see you in class 🙂

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