A Glance Into Yoga with Michelle Nayeli Bouvier


Yoga, Axis Syllabus, and Music Festivals...Oh my!

Michelle Nayeli Bouvier has been teaching yoga for over fifteen years. As a Prana Vinyasa E-RYT 500+, hoopdance pioneer, movement therapist, lifelong dancer, and biomechanic, Michelle humbly integrates the spectrum of healing arts through trainings, workshops, retreats, and music festivals. After flowing through her revitalizing 8AM yoga class at Woogie Weekend by The DoLaB, we sat down and dived into the story of her path to yoga, it’s role in consciousness festivals, how she curates her classes today, and what’s coming next.

I’m Pleased To Introduce... Michelle Nayeli Bouvier

Although Michelle found yoga in high school, the path to teaching as a profession was never a decision for her. While studying ecology in San Diego, Michelle practiced Ashtanga under Tim Miller and was amazed to see that people were actively making yoga a career. Other than Tim Miller and a few select teachers, she was unaware that yoga could potentially be a full-time profession. At that point, Michelle made a promise to the universe that she would let yoga choose her rather than actively pursue it as a career path. Ten years later and Michelle has a long list of accomplishments including her EmBody Retreats and apprenticeship with Shiva Rea, founder of Prana Vinyasa.

The Integration of Yoga & Music Festivals

After teaching her first music festival at Burning Man in 2005, Michelle has spent the last ten years teaching at festivals such as Wanderlust, Symbiosis, and Lightning in a Bottle, to name a few. As a veteran festival attendee, Michelle has a robust understanding of the goals and needs of a festival goer and how yoga can benefit them in their time there. “You really have to listen to and watch what is going on [at a music festival] because there is no container. People come and go and the attention span can be short, so I tend to focus on restorative poses that nourish the body after a long night of dancing.” Michelle noted that we give so much of our energy throughout the festival and yoga aids in a really wonderful way as it gives you something back after a taxing weekend.

Embodied practices are growing in overall popularity and yoga has been a spearheading piece of this movement. As yoga becomes more and more of an integral part of consciousness festivals, the dying questions to be answered are how and why?  These festivals engender the community spirit and generosity between people, which ties into the community, or kula, aspect of yoga practice. People are beginning to understand the power of movement, whether that be through yoga, dance classes, hoop, or acroyoga. At a music festival, there is a familiarity there and with the options of yoga we are given an invitation to be fully present and more fully embodied in whatever form we choose.

A Unique Perspective on Teaching Yoga & The Study of Axis Syllabus

As a dancer, Michelle’s day-to-day practice unites dance with not-so-classic asana and breaks through boundaries for a truly immersive experience. Her focus revolves around one-on-one movement therapy classes and a uniquely tailored experience for her students. “Yoga is meant to serve the present people, which gives a lot of freedom for creativity and evolution.” One major turning point of her practice has been the study of Axis Syllabus and integration of this safe know-how teaching style.

Axis Syllabus is a remarkable collection of principles derived from scientific inquiry used as a reference for many movement-oriented teachers including dancers, athletes, doctors, physiotherapists, and yogis alike. Consolidated originally by Frey Faust, Axis Syllabus focus centers around a re-modeling of anatomical information to include the body’s evolutionary history and recognizes movement as a fundamental aspect of being alive. It provides a rational approach to training and working with the body in a way that trains movement patterns safely.

“The theory behind Axis Syllabus suggests our physical structure has evolved in an axis of three dimensions of space and gravity. In the study of Axis Syllabus, everything is constantly changing directions and moving in a more curvilinear fashion than flat, square or straight.” Originating from dance, the idea of Axis Syllabus advocates that for movement the most sustainable practice is outside of lines. The study of Axis Syllabus collects its information from a number of fields, including kinesiology, physiology, and physics so it’s no wonder that Michelle, as a biomechanist ecologist, found Axis Syllabus and has slowly begun letting it trickle into her asana practice.

In Michelle’s restorative class at Woogie Weekend by The DoLaB, Axis Syllabus was integrated through asana, one specific example being to turn your foot out while in low lunge. “By re-training these movements, we can decrease force and reduce likelihood of an injury.” This is especially attractive to Michelle as dancing into the later years of life is a must for her.

Retreats, Hoopdance, and Other Expressive Arts

Outside of her day-to-day practice, music festivals, and study of Axis Syllabus, Michelle founded EmBody Retreats, an immersive movement retreat that looks at the roots of yoga in spontaneous movement while overlapping with other expressive arts such as yoga, hip hop, continuum, and hoopdance. The retreats also journey deep into semantic intelligence, self-care, nature’s patterns, and an intimate relationship with life-energy flow. For more information about EmBody Retreats, visit the website here.

Michelle Nayeli Bouvier is a truly inspiring Jack-of-all-Trades and continuously breaks down walls and boundaries between dance, yoga and healing arts as a whole. Devoted to teaching the values of tuning into yourself and the embodiment that yoga serves, Michelle is currently based in San Francisco, CA and offers customized private lessons. When she’s not teaching yogic practice with a focus on healthy movement patterns, Michelle is a leading teacher of hoopdance. If you are interested in learning more about Michelle, visit her website here.