*Teacher Feature* Interview with Mei Lai Swan

by Nanci

From Melbourne, Australia, Mei Lai became interested in the Eastern spiritual traditions as a teenager, and took her first life-changing 10-day meditation retreat in Thailand at the age of eighteen. She spent the next four years immersed in Buddhist teachings, before falling in love with the practice of yoga and its embodied wisdom. She has spent the last thirteen years studying Ashtanga, Iyengar, Vinyasa/Hatha, Anusara and now Embodied Flow™ yoga, which she weaves into a dynamic heart-centred practice with an emphasis both on alignment and the practice of living wisdom, joy and creativity.

A passionate lover of life and seva, Mei Lai is also an accomplished musician, community development worker, doula, social entrepreneur and traveller. With degrees in International Development and Social Work, Mei Lai has spent many years working in remote Aboriginal communities running community development and music programs, touring as a performing artist, and exploring the globe. She now facilitates group work and yoga programs with asylum seekers, and is the founding director of Birth For HumanKIND, a volunteer doula program that provides free birth support for underprivileged women, in addition to a rewarding yoga teaching schedule.

Learn more in this interview with Mei Lai:

What to you is the most essential quality in a teacher?

I rate integrity, authenticity, love, and compassion. For me, yoga is a practice of life and wisdom, and it should lead you to developing these qualities. If it doesn’t, it’s not yoga. But firstly, you develop these qualities as a human being, and then you share these as a teacher – so that you help to develop these qualities in others and for each other. This is the way towards happiness, peace and evolution.

As a teacher, what is the core of your message?

At the moment, I’m most interested in helping people discover freedom. Freedom of movement, freedom of mind, freedom to be yourself in all your unique beauty. To me, yoga is not about telling people what to do and how to move their bodies. It’s about a deep and intimate relationship with your own body and your own self. It is a practice of listening, honouring and discovering. Through this comes a deep power, a reverence for life, and a joyful freedom to explore and express.


What is your favorite style to teach?

I am having an absolute love affair with teaching Embodied Flow – a new ‘style’ developed by Tara Judelle and Scott Lyons. Although it is not so different from how I have always taught, Embodied Flow integrates vinyasa/hatha style yoga, somatic practices drawn from Body-Mind Centering and tantric philosophy. It is rich, honouring of the body and its connection with the mind, and deeply explorative. It takes yoga out of the realm of mechanical physical ‘exercise’ and turns the body and the physical practice into a playground for awakening.


 If you could teach anywhere in the world where would it be?

Anywhere and everywhere. I’m a total adventure junkie and a people-lover. And yoga is the most powerful tool for change that I know…

*To find out more about Mei Lai, visit her website www.meilaiswan.com, or join her and Julian Goyma on a retreat in the Philippines in June 2016!

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