For this edition of Creative Corner, we have Melissa Jill, founder and CEO of Alive With Melissa. Melissa has been an innovator in the health and wellness industry for nearly two decades, acting as a motivational speaker, yoga instructor, and mentor for clients all around the world. We spoke with Melissa about how she first began her yoga journey, her move to an online platform, and how she inspires her students and subscribers to live their lives with “vibrant health, abundant love & radiant joy.”
How did you first start your yoga journey?
I began in 1997, teaching group exercise at Toms River Fitness and Aquatic Center and Brick Fitness for Women. In the year 2000, the owners of the fitness center asked me if I would train to become a yoga teacher, knowing that yoga was up and coming. They offered to pay for my training and certification. My first thought, having never done yoga before, was “Yes, this will be easy money! I won’t have to sweat or work hard on choreography. I’m in!”
I proceeded to take a two-day certification through a fitness organization. I began teaching yoga, literally following notes. Although I did not know much, the benefits of connecting to my breath and practicing the poses were inevitable! I saw the change that occurred in people from when they came into class, and when they walked out. I felt the change in myself after each class as well. After realizing the benefits that yoga truly had on my clients and me, I proceeded to study and received my 300-hour yoga certification, and became registered with the Yoga Alliance.
What’s really profound is that over time, yoga truly changed me from the inside out. Through practicing yoga, I more clearly heard God’s voice in my heart, and gained the confidence to express my truth! The benefits to my mind helped me to release stress and negative thoughts that held me back. My body feels better and is more limber than ever before. My soul glows! Yoga is the real deal… the full mind-body-spirit experience that will change one’s life from the inside out! I am blessed to have the opportunity of sharing this gift, inspiring others, and empowering them to lead a life they love!
You’re a mentor to many of your clients, who has been the biggest mentor in your life?
Hands down… Anthony Robbins! I have been so blessed to have been able to study under this man who has unequivocally changed my life and the lives of thousands! When I first heard him speak, everything he said resonated with me, and he validated so much that I knew in my heart to be true.
So many people will tell you that “thinking positive” and “being happy” are trivial. Tony teaches so much about life, success, and love. He often speaks in questions, and one question that drives me is this “What if your greatest achievement in life was to be happy?” Think about that! If we are happy, we live a life that is full. We give, we share and we love more truthfully. The people we love are the first to be affected by the emotional state we live in, and our families are healthier because of it. We radiate joy and attract beautiful people into our lives and our businesses. We leave a legacy that impacts our world, and this is profound.
I often infuse what I have received from these teachings into my yoga, my speaking, my writing, and my teaching. Being happy is a choice, and it takes work to protect our happiness. I am passionate about inspiring people to be truly happy and through my work, empowering them to do so!
What is something you learned about yourself at your very first job?
My very first job was when I was 15. I worked at the Englishtown Auction for a woman who sold socks. She worked hard. Every weekend she would pack her van each day and stock the store with every type of sock you could imagine. To this day, although admittedly, I do not remember her name, I remember the integrity she had and the work ethic she displayed.
What I learned from this woman has stayed with me and became a driving factor behind all that I do to this day, which is this… “No matter what you do in life, be passionate about what you do; work hard, be honest and do it with love!” Whether I learned this about myself back then, or if I learned it and it became a part of me, I am not sure. It’s like which came first, the chicken or the egg. Either way, I’m so glad to have been impacted by this experience so early in my life!
If someone wrote a memoir about your life, what should the title be?
“Alive With Melissa – Living Life with Vibrant Health, Abundant Love & Radiant Joy”
In the Rainforest of Ubud, Bali
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Nothing fulfills me more than knowing that through my work, I am impacting people’s lives in such a way that transforms their experience to a whole new level. We all are beautiful souls, created by God, and have a purpose to fulfill. Often we are held back by pain, fear, and negative thoughts or stories like “we are not enough,” or “we are unworthy,” etc. My mission is to guide all people, including myself, to overcome these obstacles, to release all that holds us back, so we can be more, have more, give more, receive more, and love more! The world is waiting for each of us to come ALIVE and share our unique gifts. Ultimately, as we each are liberated, the world becomes a much better place! Helping one person to shine bright illuminates the people they touch, and so on… that is how we light up the world!
Something unique about your business is that you have an online library of yoga and meditation videos, what made you decide to take your business to an online platform?
I’ve been teaching classes for just about 20 years now and many of my students over the years have asked me to create videos so they can take me home with them, or on vacation, or to wherever they go. This has planted the seed in my mind. Travel is another huge passion of mine and I love teaching in exotic destinations. Not everyone has the opportunity to go to these places, or even to a local class. Many people don’t have the time or the resources. I created Alive With Melissa Online to be the platform where I can bring the much-needed me-time, a practice to nurture one’s mind, body, and soul, to all people everywhere.
When you aren’t working, what do you like to do with your free time?
I love the outdoors and I love to travel! Being out in nature always soothes my soul and makes me feel more connected to Spirit. Traveling to exotic places, experiencing new cultures, and connecting with beautiful souls around the world fills my heart!
In the Rainforest of Ubud, Bali
What is your personal mantra?
I create new mantras regularly as my life and soul evolve. I have many. My favorite mantra that has been the main theme throughout my life is “I am LOVE. ” ❤️
Your career has allowed you to do a great deal of traveling – if you could teach a class anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
I truly don’t think I could pick just one. Teaching in Bali, Indonesia was my big dream and I did that. It was everything I dreamed it would be, and more! I have many other places on my list for future luxury retreat destinations like Italy, Greece, Spain, New Zealand, Bora Bora, Australia, Hawaii, and more! My goal is to bring my clients, either in person or virtually, to experience beautiful destinations from all around the world!
On the Coast of Jimbaran, Bali
How has family life influenced your career?
My career began when my children were babies. I honestly began teaching fitness simply to earn a free membership to a gym where I could go and bring my children to the nursery while I was working. Over the years, what began as a part-time position in a place where I could bring my babies with me while I taught classes, turned into my life’s passion and ultimately, my full-time career. Teaching, inspiring and empowering people to live a life filled with vibrant health, abundant love, and radiant joy is my mission. Being an example and role model for my children, even now as they are grown, remains always a driving force in my life!
Do you have any client success stories you can share?
I have so many beautiful testimonials from my clients on my website! I have people who have thanked me for helping them through the darkest times in their lives, people who thanked me for helping them to believe in themselves, to accept and to love themselves just as they are, and to follow their dreams, people who have thanked me for creating a safe place and holding that space for them where they can practice yoga and fitness on their own level and at their own pace, people who have thanked me for inspiring them to live life to the fullest and to choose happiness! Hearing these testimonies makes all that I do worthwhile and fills my heart with so much joy!
What advice would you give to someone apprehensive about trying yoga for the first time?
It’s most important to listen to your body and to find a place where you are comfortable practicing. There are many different types of yoga and even more different styles as taught by a myriad of instructors. There are instructors who teach a very meditative style, and others who teach more powerful moves with difficult poses. Some teachers use eastern philosophy and some don’t. Some chant while others don’t. It’s hard to form an opinion on yoga based on limited experience. I personally like to teach to all levels of fitness, while infusing meditation, prayer, and positive thinking for self-development, and connection to one’s inner peace, power, and love.
So often people see pictures of yogis doing beautiful poses that can be intimidating to the average person. Yoga is truly not about the pose. It’s about what the pose can do for you! It’s important to know that yoga is truly based on breathing, focusing inward, and honoring your body and your true self, just as you are, in any given moment. Find a place where you are comfortable. Seek a teacher who inspires you, who resonates with your soul, and honors your physical practice, meeting you right where you are. Yoga heals on so many levels; mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually… so listen to your body, enjoy your breath, enjoy each pose, and let the magic happen!
What’s coming up next for you?
I’m presently planning my next retreat in Hawaii. I’m speaking and offering different workshops and programs to inspire all to vibrate at their highest possible level and to live their most amazing life filled with vibrant health, abundant love, and radiant joy! My website membership program at AliveWithMelissa.com was created as a platform to make yoga and meditation practices from beautiful destinations around the world, set to different themes such as releasing fear, letting go, setting your intentions for your day, self-love and so much more, accessible for anyone to do anytime anywhere! Everyone deserves to feel good and I can help them accomplish this. Promoting health and happiness for all is on the top of my list!
To learn more about Melissa Jill and Alive With Melissa, please visit AliveWithMelissa.com.