Image credit: Cari Lutz
I walked into Mia Togo’s class during summer of 2013 when life had pretty much gotten the best of me. I was at the very beginning of my Saturn Return – what I refer to as the astrological Bat Mitzvah – which is around ages 28-30, when one steps into full-blown adulthood. Between working a job that required a lot out of me and breaking up with a man I thought I was going to marry – in classic Saturn Return style – my life was untethering itself.
A dear friend of mine saw the untethering and encouraged me to start a yoga practice, “You should try Mia’s class. You’ll feel safe there to process everything you’re going through.” After three years of a consistent yoga practice, I can safely say that the word process is an understatement.
When I thought about whom I wanted to interview for this series, how could I not think of Mia? Her presence in my life during that time not only allowed me the space to process but also the space to flourish. To me, Mia’s class represents much more than just the start of my yoga practice; it represents the first choice of many other choices over the last few years that I made to better myself.
Heather Reinhardt: What was your “aha” moment on deciding to pursue the yoga teacher path?
Mia Togo: It’s so funny that I’m a yoga teacher, it seemed like a foreign concept when I first started my practice. I studied for many years in LA with some great teachers. When I moved away I couldn’t find the connection to teachers that inspired me. I was having lunch with a few close friends and they planted the seed, “Why don’t you become a yoga teacher and bring the thing that you feel is missing?” It was my “aha” moment because I started down a path that is forever unfolding and has challenged me to grow in ways that still astound me. And that “thing” that was missing is the very thing I had to find and develop in myself – intuitive listening and knowing.
HR: Otherwise know as a life changing lunch! Intuitive listening and knowing is something I consciously take time daily to tap into, which is part of what my yoga practice taught me. What is the biggest impact that your yoga practice has created in your own life?
MT: When I’m on my mat, it is like a big mirror that reflects back my unconscious fears and self doubt. It allows me to get quiet with “what is” and address my thoughts and feelings one breath at a time. When I slow down and drop deep inside, I am asking myself to navigate through some turbulent waters, while cultivating inner strength to swim toward a calmer space where I can love all of my truths. When I’m too busy, I can go into avoidance and disconnect. My yoga practice is where I have developed the artful quality of deep listening to my own needs so I can self love, and make the changes I need from the inside out to be present and engaged.
HR: You do a really wonderful job of bringing this topic to the surface for others to dig into while you teach, as well. In fact, one of my favorite aspects of your class is how you safely allow and encourage students to process whatever they’ve got going on in their lives while they’re on the mat. Tell us more about your passion project, the processing playground.
MT: Processing skills are something many of us are not taught. When we come up against shadow emotions like anger, rage, hurt, sadness, we can turn away and shut it down because we have been taught that anger is bad and sadness is weak. We live in a culture where our intellect judges too quickly, which crushes feelings and creativity. We can hold the prejudices and programming of our family and culture that goes beyond the understanding of the logical, literal mind. I have found that many people suffer from the violence of their own negative thinking inward. If it is not rinsed, processed, and understood it will go somewhere. It can create lashing out, or lashing in through addictive behavior. The processing playground is a space I created to let all those gremlin voices have a say without judgment. They are not the truth but we want to understand what is true for us to see what we missed in the logical mind. It’s a way to consciously understand the subconscious mind that is holding many of our unresolved thoughts and feelings. It creates a space for creativity and understanding of all parts of ourselves. Why do we see our struggles and mistakes so negatively? In life school, this is how we learn. How can we learn if we judge ourselves? You create and become what you subconsciously believe whether it is true or not. If we rinse and process our upsets, the truth sets us free and there is tremendous wisdom and growth.
HR: Yes to all of this! This is so needed in our world today. What is your top piece of advice about yoga, wellness and/or lifestyle?
MT: Be courageous and be consistent in your truth. Transformation takes these two qualities to stay creative and engaged.
You can find Mia’s class at: YogaWorks Santa Monica – both Main Street and Montana Avenue locations. Mia is also a 200 hour teacher trainer, and a 300 hour mentor for the professional program at YogaWorks.
Follow Mia at –
Instagram – @miatogo
Twitter – @miatogo
Facebook – @miatogoyoga
Meet Author Heather Reinhardt
Heather Reinhardt has her fingers in many pies (both metaphorically and IRL – she loves pastries). She is an author, speaker, make-up artist, Angeleno, yogi, yerba mate addict and expert manifestationalist.