Women In Wellness: Melissa Ross of Breathe With Me Yoga On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing
An Interview With Candice Georgiadis
Gratitude. Find the positive in every adversity and focus on the lessons you learned — maybe when you had a flat tire, you learned how to be more prepared and change the tire yourself next time. Be grateful for what you have, and your mindset will eventually shift.
As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Melissa Ross.
Melissa Ross has over 20 years of experience in the field of yoga and mindfulness. As the founder of Breathe With Me Yoga, Melissa has united countless families, helping them to burn off stress-energy and listen to their bodies while also bringing them hope. After helping her son navigate anxiety at an early age and spending time in the classroom with so many children, it became Melissa’s biggest passion to help children and their parents navigate their way through anxiety, bullying and positivity. www.melissaross.yoga
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
In 2011, I suffered from postpartum depression and severe anxiety. After my two-and-a-half-year recovery, I returned to my government job stronger than ever and stress-free. Within a month of returning to work, I was feeling the same stress I had felt during my pregnancy. I knew then and there that I had to find a new path for my life. I had volunteered at my son’s school in the last mile of my recovery and loved being with the children and guiding them in whatever journey we were on that day. I had also been practicing yoga with my long-time instructor of thirteen years (now 20 years). I was passionate about both and set out to find a way to put it all together. In July of 2014, I certified as a Children’s Yoga Instructor and founded Breathe With Me Yoga. I went on to earn my 200-hour Registered Yoga Teacher designation. As class sizes grew and I began to lose the one-on-one connection with my students, I realized I wanted to help them on a more personal level. That’s when I set out to make a more significant difference in the lives of every person I encounter. I certified as a Mindset Mentor and Clarity Coach and founded Rise2Wellness, where I hand families the keys to mental wellness.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?
I love sharing this story! I was in business for about a year and a half when two brothers enrolled in my Calm Kids Yoga class. The older brother was very shy. He began his first class curled in the fetal position in a chair by the front door and couldn’t look at or speak to me. I assured his mother that we would get along just fine — and we did. Over the weeks, he slowly inched his way to the side of the room, then into the class and eventually participating in the full lesson. He was so immersed in the lessons that he wanted to do more. I watched as he broke out of his shell, allowed other students to interact with him, and eventually asked to be my assistant in class. The most inspiring part of the story is that he confided in me that he was being bullied at school and asked me to help him talk with his parents about it. The takeaway from that story is to always lead with love and remember that everyone is having their own experience. If we allow without judgment, beautiful things will happen.
Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The biggest mistake I’ve ever made was releasing a student without physically seeing his mom there. He was a friend of my daughter’s from school, and I knew the whole family. Our class was running in an upstairs studio then, and I knew the mom had a newborn. The student told me his mom wanted him to meet her downstairs after class, and I let him go. The mom came to me the next class and said that I had released her son before she was there, and he did not have her permission to meet her downstairs. She was trembling. I will never forget the fear on her face. The lesson I learned was never to assume anything, never make a call based on my limited knowledge and always follow the protocol no matter how uncool the kids may think it is.
Let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
When the pandemic hit and everything was shut down, I began a free online yoga class called Story Time Yoga. Story Time Yoga helps children and their parents navigate their way through anxiety, stress, and positivity while highlighting the incredible message in the books we read. Visualization of the stories helps kids connect with and create a bond with the stories and their messages. Children 5–9 years and families 2–9 years gather together to breathe, have fun, and find the yoga in everyday life. After airing 100 episodes in 2020, Story Time Yoga was picked up as a TV show, and season one has launched on the “In the Limelight” channel on Binge Networks.
Every author that has their book featured on an episode of Story Time Yoga is involved in creating the miracle of:
- uniting families through yoga, mindfulness and the books they read;
- helping them to burn off stress energy;
- teaching them to listen to their bodies;
- showing them how to regulate their breathing; and
- bringing them hope.
We all know that if a company wants to be a force for good in the world, it needs to embody hope. My biggest passion is to bring children, and their families hope in a world that sees so many people struggle with mental health. I help families grow in gratitude and positivity and let children know there is always enough love for everyone. The work I do with families through Story Time Yoga will have a more significant impact on this generation than Mr. Rogers did on mine — it will improve humanity.
Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.
- Gratitude. Find the positive in every adversity and focus on the lessons you learned — maybe when you had a flat tire, you learned how to be more prepared and change the tire yourself next time. Be grateful for what you have, and your mindset will eventually shift.
- Affirmations. Affirmations are short, positive phrases repeated to yourself that help overcome negative thoughts. They’re deeply personal and set the tone for your entire day.
- Journaling. Journaling is an excellent way to explore your thoughts and feelings deeply. It’s known to ease anxiety and depression and to help you focus. You can dump everything you’re thinking onto the paper, and you’ll start feeling better just by getting it all out.
- Breath Work. Aside from keeping us alive, our breath nourishes, feeds and cleanses us. By learning how to breathe mindfully, you become stronger, more aware, and more in control of your emotions. It’s so great because you can do it anywhere.
- Celebration. Celebration affects your brain just like breathing — it releases those happy endorphins into your body and calls in more of what you’re celebrating into your life by anchoring in that success. You’re signalling to the universe; I want more of that!
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
My vision is a world where everyone grows in gratitude; therefore, I would start a gratitude movement. I mentioned earlier that regular gratitude would result in a mindset shift — so why not practice gratitude every day! That positive shift can help change the face of mental health and help the world find happiness from within. This is so easy for the entire family to be involved in. When you shift from concentrating on the negatives to finding the good inside of every experience, you find the clarity you need to navigate the issues you may be dealing with. I believe that when we support families with mental wellness, gratitude and a positive mindset, we will manifest a more kind world filled with courage and growth.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
- Find a mentor or a coach. Coaches and mentors have lived what you are currently experiencing. They have the wisdom to get you where you want to be in less time.
- Figure out what you are good at and delegate the rest. It will take you ten times as long to complete a task as it will an expert. Hire your web designer, accountant, social media marketer and administrative assistant if those areas are not your expertise.
- “Delegate, don’t abdicate” ~ David Corbin. If your knowledge in a particular aspect of your business is low before you delegate, you will surrender to someone who could take advantage of you. Understand that aspect of your business before you delegate it. You want to be a 5–7 out of 10 before delegating.
- Network, network, network. Find a like-minded community of networkers and support each other. When you talk with people and find out about them, it makes it easier for you to serve them and others. It also makes it easier to find the resources you need when you need them.
- Don’t sell, serve. “If you want more success, find a way to serve more people.” ~ The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann
Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
Mental health is the dearest cause to me. It has affected me, my children, and many friends and family. If not for the support that I had in place, I would not be here today. Since 2014, I have seen an increasing number of children affected by stress and anxiety — and it’s a family affair. I’ve also lost numerous friends and co-workers to suicide. I believe that mental health is the next pandemic. Now is the time to put better supports in place.
What is the best way for our readers to further follow your work online?
Story Time Yoga can be found on Binge Networks at https://www.bingenetworks.tv/series/story-time-yoga-206965 and my YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/c/breathewithmeyoga. The links to all of my other work can be found at www.melissaross.yoga
Thank you for these fantastic insights! We wish you continued success and good health.
Women In Wellness: Melissa Ross of Breathe With Me Yoga On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.