This blog is the first of a collection called, "Moonbeams: Illuminating what happens here" curated by local writer and community member, Kim Thompson and other guest writers. We hope you enjoy a peek into what goes on at our studio and that you will be inspired to come visit us to see for yourself!
On a quiet morning at the start of Spring Break, the sunrise warmed Chestnut Street as I left my parked car and stepped down into the lower level of The Compass Center, where Moon River Wellness resides. Despite the building’s modest exterior, there is a womb of clean beauty within - a classic hidden gem. Soft lighting, exotic vibrations of gong, flute, and sanskrit chants, an earthy incense gently infused my senses.
Well, well, good morning healing energy.
The largest space used at Moon River was once a small venue for musical recitals, which creates an ideal space for yoga, meditation, and other spiritual or holistic events. It is pretty; it allows sound to flow, and it feels sacred. This is where I found the lovely Melissa Laraby seated at the front of the room on a mat.
Melissa is a wife, mother of two children, and also a psychologist at The NEST, just half a block up the street. She found Moon River via mutual friends on Facebook when she anonymously won a gift basket donated by owner Kali Higgins. When Melissa went to collect the generous salt lamp, massage stones,and an anointing oil, she realized Moon River Wellness was a natural space for her training and experience in Kundalini Yoga and mentioned it to Kali. This style of yoga is less common in the Stillwater area, so it was no surprise Kali Higgins later requested Melissa’s collaboration.
Even though Melissa is dedicated enough to travel from the south metro to work in our community, she expresses a heartfelt investment in our town, “This is where I work, so now I am a part of this community too.” Community is a word I hear a lot at Moon River. It seems to be a core mission for the carefully selected instructors Kali employs. It is clear to me that Melissa is among those who have a deeper purpose to build connection, relationships, a safehaven of healing and inspiration.
Kundalini Yoga goes beyond the simple benefits of physical fitness; this gets into the heart and soul of true yoga. Melissa understands that there is more to it. Ancient yogis were not so concerned with external beauty, a great bi-product of yoga. They were concerned with keeping the body flexible and clean, allowing the natural flow of energy - through breath and movement - to rise up from the root chakra to the crown, allowing a divine connection only a group of yogis can energetically establish on certain levels. Sure, yoga feels good, but it also promotes a deeper healing of mind, body and soul. The solo yogi is a wonderful thing. However, a collaborative circle of yogis is a powerful influence upon the individual student.
The Kundalini class was interesting and memorable. We warmed up with movements I had never done - and I have done yoga for years. I learned the “Breath of Fire” and words used in ancient wisdom and ritual. Melissa’s composed essence and light humor made me feel safe and nurtured, open and full. The quiet, simple meditative time was a well-earned cooling down period. What a fantastic beginning to the day ahead and its ensuing weekend! When she sang the closing songs, I was literally brought to a state of elation. I could have listened to her voice and considered those I hold dear far longer than the class could last. So I took that little piece with me, in my body, in my mind, in my heart.
Melissa is also trained in Prenatal Yoga and Mother-Baby Yoga. Her position at The NEST has an upcoming collaboration with Moon River for a Prenatal Series in April starting next Thursday (April 5). If you can’t make the whole six weeks, you can participate in a modified version.
Melissa told me she loves to learn, is always learning, and knows that when she is teaching, she is the best version of herself. She also shared, like many people called upon to be a teacher, that she will let her intuition lead her with many specifics of her class. This is why I had some comforting familiarity and some delightful changes the second time I came to Kundalini Yoga and Meditation. I usually work on Friday mornings, but next week is Good Friday, a school holiday where I work. Guess I get to attend yet another time before I come back this summer!
Written by Kim Thompson
Kim is a mother of three sons, a Stillwater High School English teacher, local columnist, and freelancer for community interests. Kim is a voracious reader and student of metaphysics and ancient tribal spirituality, gardener and foodie, a motorcyclist, and a poet. Her family has resided in Stillwater for six generations. She is passionately invested in community relationships that promote the health of body, mind and soul.