Monday Meeting · Wellness

Monday Meeting: Mitzi Connell, Creator of Rocket City Yoga Week

As you’ve probably seen over the past few weeks, I’ve been promoting the upcoming 3rd annual Rocket City Yoga Week (RYCW). This is a Huntsville area event that takes place one week in June every year, and it features a variety of free yoga classes and events for the public to attend. This year, RCYW has amazing local sponsors, teachers, and venues! It is truly a community effort which is so beautiful!
I thought seeing as the event kicks off in ONE WEEK, it would be great to feature the lovely creator of RCYW, Mitzi Connell, on the blog to talk about herself and this amazing upcoming event!

rcywlogo

[W]G Tell us a little about your yoga background. When did you first start practicing, and what made you decide to pursue yoga as a career?
MC I’ve been on the mat for 16 years. I started practicing with a book…which is near impossible to do for a new yogi. Shortly thereafter, I stumbled upon a VHS copy of Total Yoga with Tracey Rich & Ganga White. A decade later, I found myself spending 16 days in Santa Barbara training with Ganga & Tracey to get my 200-hour certification.

[W]G What has been your most valuable take away from yoga?
MC Connection to myself. Yoga, no doubt about it, saved my life.

[W]G Is yoga for everyone?
MC 
This is a loaded question. Nothing is for everyone. 🙂
-Yoga can help alleviate stress, high blood pressure, headaches, muscle fatigue, central nervous system overload, mental fog, lack of balance, an inability to speak up for oneself, and anger management issues. It can help with blood disorders, PTSD, anxiety, depression, and injury prevention. Yoga helps you get stronger. Yoga helps you soften around the edges. Yoga teaches you to stand tall and hold your ground. Yoga shows you that you’re not alone.
-There is much, much more I could list…but I’m sure you see my point. I hesitate to say that something is for EVERYONE…but when I break yoga down into specifics of how it helps – it can help a very wide range of people.

[W]G Who is a perfect candidate for taking a yoga class?
MC See #3. 🙂

[W]G What is some advice you would offer to beginning practitioners, or those who are thinking about trying yoga for the first time?
MC Yoga is learned in layers…and the layers are never-ending. We are a results-driven society, and we usually want to know where the finish line is. There is no finish line in yoga. Yoga is simply connecting and reconnecting to you, with who you are the deepest core, over, and over, and over again. You will change. Your life will change. Your body will change. Your choices will change. Your outlook will change. And all the while, your yoga will change.
-My advice? Breathe. Have patience. Let go of the end result. Enjoy the exploration. Watch how it begins to affect every nook & cranny of your life. Let your smile be the posture you show the world regularly.

[W]G What kinds of benefits does yoga offer the average person?
MC See #3 🙂

[W]G What is your favorite part of teaching yoga?
MC Watching the personal evolution of my students. Watching the proverbial light bulb go on within them when they connect thought to breath, breath to movement, movement to stillness, stillness to awareness, awareness back to breath.

[W]G What inspired the creation of RCYW?
MC I first thought of the concept in 2011, when I stumbled upon DC Yoga week in Washington. There, among the monuments, were literally THOUSANDS of yogis practicing. I thought then that we could re-create that here in Huntsville on a smaller scale. We may not have monuments, but we have rockets!!
-In 2012, the City of Huntsville launched Healthy Huntsville – a city-wide initiative to create a healthier, more vibrant community.
-In 2013, I first took my idea for Rocket City Yoga Week to the US Space & Rocket Center. I needed to see if they would be willing to host a grand finale event under their Saturn V Rocket in the Davidson Center for Space Exploration. They were thrilled with the concept and instantly onboard.
-Then I met with Mayor Tommy Battles’ office and proposed that my yoga week could be a partner of Healthy Huntsville, offering 7 days of free yoga events in the summer. They wholeheartedly gave me a green light to move ahead.
-I bought the domain, created the website and launched the idea!!

[W]G In what ways has RCYW evolved since its premiere in 2013?
MC This will be our 3rd year of RCYW. I am astonished at the growth of it!
-in 2012, we had 12 teachers, 24 events, and just under 700 total participants.
-in 2014, we had 25 teachers, 55 events, and just over 1900 total participants.
-in 2015, we have 30 teachers, 67 events, and, if we fill all events to max capacity, we will have taught a grand total of almost 2300 total participants.

[W]G Explain to us, why were you so determined to put so much work into something absolutely free to the public?
MC Rocket City Yoga Week teaches “yoga where you are.” This huge event promotes our talented collection of area yoga teachers, connects our community, increases awareness for our local merchants and historic landmarks, strengthens our local economy, and brings more health & balance to our residents.
-I believe fiercely in all of these qualities of RCYW. Our community matters. Our local small businesses matter. Our North Alabama economy matters. Our yoga teachers matter. Our health matters.
-Rocket City Yoga Week was created to be free to the public because we partnered with Healthy Huntsville – and all HH events are free!
-Now, in the spirit of full confession, there are MANY days when I ask myself WHY I am doing this, I lose sleep, I stress, I don’t eat right, I drink too much caffeine, and I want to pull my gray hairs out by the root. But then, someone out of the blue will message me and share how RCYW affected them…changed them…improved their life somehow, someway…and it all makes sense again.

[W]G If you could choose one yoga guru to add to the RCYW line up, who would you choose and why?
MC Hmmm. Yoga “guru.” I smile when I consider answering that question because, to me, a true teacher understands that if you spell “GURU” aloud, you get “Gee…You Are You.” A good yoga teacher will help you understand that you really are your own guru…most of the time you already know the answers to the questions you have…you just have to unearth them yourself.
-HOWEVER…I will answer your question this way: If I could choose anyone to join us for the Rocket City Yoga Week lineup, it would be Judith Hansen Lasater. She’s amazing. She’s been teaching since 1971. I would be so humbled if she were to join us.

[W]G What advice do you have for people as they are trying to select classes to take during RCYW? What things should they have in mind when searching for the right classes for themselves?
MC Trust that you do NOT have to RSVP for all 67 events….there really IS enough to go around, and you WILL get exactly what you need that week. 🙂
-All classes, unless otherwise noted, are suitable for all levels. We have descriptions in each event and I have categorized them a bit further on the RCYW website to you suggestions & ideas.
-Let us know ahead of time if you have physical circumstances that require special care – e.g. needing to be closer to the instructor due to having a hearing impairment.
-If being in larger crowds creates anxiety for you, choose the smaller, more intimate events.
-If you’re a complete and utter extrovert, choose the larger classes. 🙂
Ask questions if you don’t understand what the class is like.
-Contact the venue if you would like to know more about the space you’ll be in.

[W]G What should participants bring and wear to RCYW events?
MC Dress comfortably – anything stretchy. Please keep the privates covered. Yes…believe it or not, I must actually go there and put that boundary down. No one needs to see the privates. Really.

[W]G In what ways can people share RCYW news and updates to spread the word about this amazing event?
MC Our website:
-http://RocketCityYogaWeek.com
-Join us on Social Media:
–Facebook: http://facebook.com/RocketCityYogaWeek
–Instagram: http://instagram.com/RocketCityYogaWeek
–Twitter: http://twitter.com/RocketCityYoga
-Share our posts & tweets. Tag us. Tell your friends. Tell your family.
-Subscribe to our newsletter (we only send newsletters over about a 90-day span of time – before, during, & immediately after RCYW) http://tinyletter.com/RocketCityYogaWeek

 mc​Mitzi Connell

http://MitziConnell.com


A huge thanks to Mitzi for taking time out of her crazy schedule as she prepares for RCYW to answer these questions for us! Mitzi is an absolutely fascinating and talented individual–if you’re in the Huntsville area, she is worth knowing.

rcywrocket

Huntsville people, for which RCYW events are you excited?

[W]IT GIRL

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