Joyful, loving, determined
Where are you from?
Santa Monica, CA
How did yoga come into your life and what has that journey been like for you?
My sister introduced me to Kundalini yoga in 1996. Shortly thereafter I began practicing with Bryan Kest which also led me to Vipassana meditation as taught by S.N. Goenka. From the get go, I realized that yoga & meditation coupled with my newly discovered feminist consciousness and social justice work offered a gateway and support for my own personal transformation and my commitment to collective healing and liberation. It’s been profound and deeply humbling. I’m grateful every day.
How has yoga affected your daily life?
My yoga and meditation practice offers me the opportunity to pause, listen and make conscious choices that increase my sense of personal empowerment, purposefulness, and living a life that feels meaningful and fulfilling.
Who were you before you started practicing and how have you changed, evolved, and transformed?
Before I started practicing I was confused, lost, and felt deflated and adrift. Once I started practicing, I was able to make peace with and forgive myself and others as well and begin to harness the innate wisdom, power, and sense of agency I possessed but had been obscured by the circumstances of living in a society that had socialized me as a woman to question and doubt myself.
Why do you practice?
I practice to stay centered and grounded as well as continue to expand and grow.
What is the single most defining issue facing the global yoga community today?
The continued dearth of diversity in representation and the issues related to access and ability in all their forms, including the commercialization, commodification, and objectification of yoga practice and yoga practitioners.
Do you have any recommended yoga reading?
Meditation with Intention: Quick and Easy Ways to Create Lasting Peace by Anusha Wijeyakumar
Accessible Yoga: Poses and Practices for Every Body by Jivana Heyman
Yoga for Everyone: 50 Poses For Every Type of Body by Dianne Bondy
Yoga Where You Are: Customize Your Practice for Your Body and Your Life by Dianne Bondy and Kat Heagberg
Yoga and Body Image: 25 Personal Stories About Beauty, Bravery & Loving Your Body by Melanie Klein and Anna Guest – Jelley
Yoga Rising: 30 Empowering Stories from Yoga Renegades for Every Body by Melanie Klein
Yoke: My Yoga of Self-Acceptance by Jessamyn Stanley
Peace from Anxiety: Get Grounded, Build Resilience, and Stay Connected Amidst the Chaos by Hala Khouri
Yoga, the Body, and Embodied Social Change: An Intersectional Feminist Analysis by Beth Berila, Melanie Klein and Chelsea Jackson Roberts
Embrace Yoga’s Roots: Courageous Ways to Deepen Your Yoga Practice by Susanna Barkataki
Restorative Yoga for Ethnic and Race-Based Stress and Trauma by Dr. Gail Parker
Radiant Rest: Yoga Nidra for Deep Relaxation and Awakened Clarity by Tracee Stanley
Are there any current projects you’re working on that you can tell us about?
I just published the anthology Embodied Resilience through Yoga: 30 Mindful Essays About Finding Empowerment After Addiction, Trauma, Grief, and Loss with my co-editors.
What do you like to do for fun that’s non-yoga related?
Hiking, the beach, movies, and game nights!
Who is your greatest inspiration?
My son, Atticus.
If you were stranded on an island what 3 things would you bring with you?
My son, chocolate and loads of good books.
When you were a child what did you want to be when you grew up?
Believe it or not, a lawyer or an artist! Some serious left brain right brain wanderings.
What’s your favorite movie?
Moxie! Great job, Amy Poehler.
What’s your favorite TV series?
I’m a big fan of Schitt’s Creek, the Umbrella Academy, The Good Place, WandaVision, The Magicians, Young Sheldon and The Great British Baking Show.
What is your life’s biggest question?
How can I be better and do better?
Melanie Klein, M.A., is an empowerment coach, thought leader and influencer in the areas of body confidence, authentic empowerment, and visibility. She is also a successful writer, speaker, and professor of Sociology and Women’s Studies. Her areas of interest and specialty include media literacy education, body image, and the intersectional analysis of systems of power and privilege. She is the co-editor of Yoga and Body Image: 25 Personal Stories About Beauty, Bravery + Loving Your Body (Llewellyn, 2014) with Anna Guest-Jelley, a contributor in 21st Century Yoga: Culture, Politics and Practice (Horton & Harvey, 2012), is featured in Conversations with Modern Yogis (Shroff, 2014), a featured writer in Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Mindful Living (Llewellyn, 2016), co-editor of Yoga, the Body and Embodied Social Change: An Intersectional Feminist Analysis with Dr. Beth Berila and Dr. Chelsea Jackson Roberts (Rowman and Littlefield, 2016) as well as the editor of the new anthology, Yoga Rising: 30 Empowering Stories from Yoga Renegades for Every Body. She co-founded the Yoga and Body Image Coalition in 2014 and is the co-founder of The Joy Revolution. She has been practicing yoga and meditation since 1996 and currently lives in Santa Monica, CA.
Photo by Sarit Z. Rogers/