Meet the HABIT Team: Michelle Graff-Radford
This week I wanted to highlight our terrific yoga instructor at Mayo Florida. She has been a part of HABIT for 8 years now, and I feel very lucky to have her. She's not one to talk about herself very much, so this blog gave me the perfect opportunity to learn a bit more about her myself. Thanks Michelle!
Question: Where did you grow up and what was it like?
Answer: I grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa. I am the second of five children. Our maternal grandparents lived with us and we saw our paternal grandparents and cousins every week. We had a lot of freedom and as long as we came home before dusk no one seemed to worry about us.
Question: When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Answer: I wanted to be a ballerina as a young child. As a teenager I wanted to be a physical therapist. Fortunately, I spent a day with a physical therapist and found I was more interested in the emotional and social aspects of the patients. I became a social worker.
Question: How did you get into practicing yoga?
Answer: I had an injury from ballet at age 13. It prevented me from continuing my ballet and was causing me problems in my everyday life. My mother suggested I try yoga. I went to my first yoga class and immediately felt peaceful and at home. I have been practicing since age 14.
Question: What’s your favorite ways to de-stress?
Answer: I find that having a morning routine helps me to prepare for the possible stresses of the day. Every morning, my husband and I do a short meditation practice and think of one thing for which we are grateful. (It only took me 39 years to convince him to meditate!)
One of my favorite activities is walking in nature, especially on the beach. Practicing relaxation and breathing techniques also help me de-stress. I do practice what I teach!
Question: Do you have any hidden talents?
Answer: I am considered a “baby whisperer” because I am able to soothe any fussy or crying baby.
I also have the ability to nap anywhere.
Question: Tell me a favorite story about a time you were teaching yoga.
Answer: I was teaching a night class in a yoga studio in Denver. After the relaxation ended, I could not rouse one of the new students. I even felt for her pulse and checked that she was breathing. Fortunately, my husband, who is a physician, arrived to pick me up. I sent one of the students out to the parking lot to ask him to come in and help. He was eventually able to bring her out of this deep sleep. She said she usually was a light sleeper. She became a regular student and every time would fall into this deep sleep.
Question: Tell me a little bit about your family!
Answer: My husband and I have been married 43 years. We have two son’s and six grandchildren. They range in age from 17- 3 years.
Question: What is your favorite thing about the HABIT Program?
Answer: There are so many aspects of the program that I enjoy that it is difficult to chose one thing. I love being part of a team that is passionate and committed to helping people. I am in awe of the courage and resilience of the people who come to the program and always learn from them.