#HotTribe Blog Post 7 with Caitlin Mackiewicz
A Better Version of Myself
It’s was a Wednesday night around 8:15pm. I arrived excited to finally chat with Caitlin and learn more about her yoga journey. I walked into the studio lobby and was greeted with flowers, Earl Grey tea, fresh berries, and her warm smile. To top it off, a class was in session so Bob Marley’s “Love is my Religion” played in the background. Can you say refreshing? I held back tears with a big gulp to clear the lump in my throat. The interview really could have ended right there because this scene describes Caitlin and her yoga journey. This is typical Caitlin- warm, grateful, and accommodating.
You can find her at the studio folding towels, cleaning the floors, and making everyone feel right at home. She is a work study at Melt and her bubbly personality knows no strangers. Her caring spirit taps into the needs of others before they open their lips. She remembers everyone’s favorite towel or mat. She even knows where people like to place their mat in the yoga room. If you are new, she will set your mat up in the cooler part of the studio to help you adjust to the heat. She will take care of you. She also takes care of herself by showing up on her mat day after day. In case you haven’t noticed, she’s a boss chick!
So we sipped tea, nibbled on berries, and talked about our common thread- Yoga.
Monea: How did you hear about Melt?
Caitlin: Right after Molly opened, my mom and sister started coming here and I tagged along with them for the first time. It wasn’t something I was into. I thought I was going to pass out and die so I said I’m not coming back (laughter).
So three years later, I was home from college, looking for a job, and I was in a really weird place in my life. I knew I needed something, a new structure, just something new. Then, for Christmas my sister got me the 30-day Intro Month pass (for new students) and the following January, I came and I was actually able to do it! I had lost a little bit of weight and I felt really good after class. Then I got the flu, three days into it, and I was like, ‘Oh My God? What am I supposed to do?’ When I felt better, I came back and did completed a 30-day challenge. I asked Molly to do a work study and the rest is history.
Monea: Wow! So you have been here over a year?
Caitlin: Yes, and after my first time I could not fathom coming back.
Monea: Amazing! Do you remember who taught your first class?
Caitlin: It was Mindy, both of my “first” times.
Monea: When you returned to Melt to give it a second try, what made you decide to keep coming back?
Caitlin: I felt really good after that class. I think I started with a 90-minute class, which is one of the longer classes at Melt, but I felt good. I felt cleanse. And something made me want to come back. There was also a challenge in my mind like, ‘Can I really do this? All of these other people are doing it, why can’t I?’ Then, I did!
Monea: You are so inspiring! How has yoga changed your life? Describe what it used to be like, what happened, and what it is like now.
Caitlin: My life is awesome with yoga! Sometimes I wonder why I didn’t search for something like this harder because my life is clearer. When I don’t see something clear, I take a deep breath. I don’t react. I used to react a lot more. I used to jump without looking. Without yoga, I wonder where I’d be now. I don’t think I’d be in the best place. When I started practicing yoga, I was in a funny place in my life. I had a lot going on. And this past year, with yoga in my life, I had a lot of hiccups and yoga helped me through. It’s been like a path…a great path. Yoga has helped me be a better version of myself. I believe I’ve always been good but yoga helps me be better, not to please anyone, but just for me.
Monea: At Melt, we believe, “If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.” What pose has challenged and changed you the most, physically, emotionally, and spiritually?
Caitlin: I don’t think it’s one specific pose. I tend to lean more towards the Bikram style than the Vinyasa style but I definitely think that every day is a new challenge. I’m bigger. I’m not a skinny mini like some of the ‘typical yoga girls’ and that is my challenge. It’s not really the poses; it’s that I’m not as flexible as the person next to me. So I’m always a little bit more like, ‘Oh My God! I want to get into this pose.’ I want to be able to do it and I know that every day is a little different. Every day, I go into the practice with a new, clean slate because you never know.
There is not one pose that I hate. I cherish every pose because I see them as little gifts throughout the practice. And sometimes I meet the mat. I literally laying there…then the next day, I may be able to get my leg higher or get into a deeper backbend.
Monea: Yes, I agree. Every time we come to our mat, we are newcomers all over again. You mentioned that weight was your challenge but you have lost weight since coming. I can tell and you look amazing!
Caitlin: Yes, I’ve been trying, I really am. It’s a battle in itself. When I went to college I gained a lot of weight. Throughout my whole life, I’ve been up and down but this has been the first time I’ve been consistently coming down.
I think weight has to do with your emotions. If you are happy and content, it’s fantastic what can happen. You could be dieting and a thousand other things but if you are not happy, content, and okay it doesn’t matter.
Monea: Right! And yoga helps you to be okay?
Caitlin: Oh yeah! (Laughter)
Monea: If someone was intimated by hot yoga, namely the heat, what would you tell them to encourage them to give it a try?
Caitlin: You have to try it once…but then you have to come back again (laughter). Your first time, you may feel overwhelmed as a new person walking into the studio. You have so many things to take in and then there is heat. Oh My! (chuckles) But once you get into it, and try a few teachers and classes, you can find out if it’s for you, first of all, and then you find a detox. You could go into class with a bad mood then leave with a great mood. And it’s not like running outside, walking on a treadmill, or lifting weights. It’s a different kind of aura…but you have to be open-minded. it’s not like a gym…it’s more like a home. You walk into the studio to find a group of friendly people and no one judges you. That’s because it’s not a gym….it’s a home.
Monea: I love that analogy! So what do you like most about being a part of the Melt Hot Yoga community? And you are an active part of the community!
Caitlin: First of all, being a work study has opened the doors to meet new people. Most of my friends I went to school with got married, have kids, or moved away. We’ve lost touch so here at Melt, I’ve met so many good people- younger and older, not just my age.
I think that is fantastic meeting people of all different backgrounds, journeys, and stories. I love meeting people and I’m a talker. I love to talk. I also love to help people when they come to Melt. If I can do something to help their day even 1%, I love doing it.
Being around Melt has just been a blessing. I mean before this, what was I doing? (laughter) I’ve met so many great people here and I really do believe they will be lifelong friendships. Most people come here regularly so it’s not like they walk out of the door and you never see them again. Melt is a support system. We check-in with each other to make sure things are okay. It’s magnificent! I’ve belonged to many organizations and clubs and I’ve never experienced anything like this. And, the beauty of it is that none of us are the same. It’s rare because usually when you put a group of people together, especially girls, something is going to go haywire (laughter,) sparks are going to fly but they don’t here.
Monea: I love that about Melt too.
Caitlin: My mom is a big support. When I’m upset, she will say, ‘let’s go to yoga.’ When I don’t come I feel so different, so off and not myself. We can feel it when we haven’t been to yoga in a while. It’s like, ‘did you take your meds?’ (laughter) Yoga is our meds…natural endorphins, I guess.
Monea: (Laughing) So funny and true!