Danika Michelle

North Shore Auckland
New Zealand

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Life Before Yoga | My life has always been defined by a passion for movement, creativity, and a love of all beings. My childhood was occupied by dance, sport, theatre, and caring for animals. As Chief of the Wildlife Rescue Team (of one), I took my imaginary cape-wearing responsibilities seriously, rescuing even the smallest of insects in need. The yogic principle of having compassion and love for all life has always been intuitively familiar to me.

As a young adult, my time was occupied by teaching, performing and competing internationally in Salsa and other Latin dance styles. I have always loved physical expression and movement, which has helped greatly with understanding the anatomy of yoga asana (postures).

Discovering Yoga | My first experience with yoga came while working in the stressful corporate world of Sydney, and running my dance business – I started attending yoga classes during my lunch break. Despite my dance background, I could barely touch my toes, due to widespread musculoskeletal pain associated with a chronic medical condition. After struggling through the asanas, I welcomed the relaxation at the end of the class, which provided a profound sense of calm, peace, and tranquility that kept me coming back for more.

Despite seeing these classes as a refuge, I initially approached yoga with an almost competitive attitude – always pushing and striving. Eventually I noticed that the more I relaxed mentally, the less tension there was in my body. Realising that the stress of my corporate work was aggravating my condition, and with limited relief offered by standard healthcare, I eventually left my corporate career in London to pursue a life more consistent with my values, and conducive to good health.

Living Yoga | After searching for Yoga and related qualifications around the World, I returned to my hometown of Auckland, New Zealand to complete the highly regarded one-year fulltime NZQA Diploma in Yoga (including 1,600+ hours), followed by the one-year fulltime NZQA Diploma in Yoga Therapy at Wellpark College (recognised by the International Association of Yoga Therapists). Under the tutelage of Drs Pooja and Sridhar Maddela, I received comprehensive training in anatomy and physiology, Ayurveda, yoga and other eastern philosophies, yoga teaching, clinical applications of yoga and yoga therapy. During my studies, I learned the importance of achieving balance by giving equal respect and attention to body, mind and spirit. Instead of constantly pushing my body past its current limits, I now focus on listening to, identifying, and respecting its needs. I am eternally grateful to my teachers, Drs Pooja and Sridhar Maddela, for being an inspiration and sharing their wisdom.

Experience and Focus | I am an experienced instructor teaching yoga to adults and children in New Zealand, Cambodia, and the United Kingdom. Being an avid reader of research in areas such as yoga, nutrition, clinical exercise, behavioural psychology, and manual therapy, I like to incorporate the latest knowledge in helping my clients on their path to holistic wellness.

My passion is to share my knowledge and skills with others experiencing the challenges of chronic illness. Having suffered with chronic illness most of my life, I have compassion and understanding for those who find mainstream yoga classes inaccessible. I specialise in helping people restore the balance lost in the turbulence of modern life – a balance that can exist between body and mind, individual and community, worldly and spiritual needs.

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