Melissa “Mati” Elstein founded Good Energy Movement and Wellness in order to create and teach mindful and joyful movement classes that combine all her healing modalities. She is a registered yoga teacher, certified Tai Chi Easy™ and qigong facilitator, pilates mat teacher, Psychosynthesis holistic wellness coach, Reiki (3d Degree) and crystal layouts practitioner, former professional ballerina, an ABT® Certified Ballet Teacher in Primary through Level 3 of the ABT National Training Curriculum, and a non-practicing attorney.
Melissa’s classes balance a focus on alignment and technique skills while encouraging students’ freedom of expression, creativity and inner awareness. She also adds elements of pilates mat into her yoga classes, having been certified by LindaFit Pilates at the Equinox Gym. From her personal experiences, Melissa found that Tai Chi and Qigong are wonderful complements to yoga classes. She trained in Tai Chi Easy™ with Dr. Roger Jahnke, and teaches that class at Dorot for Seniors, and previously at the Elizabeth Seton Women’s Center, Visions for the Blind, Gilda’s Club, and the Omega Institute.
Since 2004, Melissa has taught classes at numerous established locations, such as the Omega Institute, The Open Center, Upper Westside Yoga and Wellness, Integral Yoga Institute, Namaste Yoga Center, The Breathing Project, Visions for the Blind, Gilda’s Club for cancer patients and survivors, Callen-Lorde Community Center, the JCC, Rasa Yoga, Moving Body Resources, NYC Parks Foundation, and at Kinespirit @ Studio Riverside, where she also offers private yoga and Reiki energy sessions.
In addition to teaching open yoga classes and privates, Melissa has created and taught many popular yoga workshops, such as Yoga for Runners, Yoga for Golfers, Sun Salutation Workshop, A Multi-Sensory Journey Through the Chakras™, Balancing Poses, Strong to the Core Yoga, to name a few. Melissa also offers her seminar “Stress Less, More Peace – Simple Techniques for Finding Inner Peace”™ at corporate and non-profit company settings. It is a culmination of her many years of study in the healing arts and meditative practices, and offers practical tools that anyone can use to reduce the negative effects of stress.
Originally trained as a professional ballet dancer, Melissa attended the School of American Ballet (“SAB”), and the Professional Children’s School, and performing with the New York City Ballet Company, the Royal Danish Ballet Company, and the Berlin Opera Ballet, as a child. After graduating high school, Melissa joined the Pennsylvania Ballet Company, in Philadelphia, PA, and toured and performed throughout the United States and Canada, including a season at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
However, after many years of dancing and suffering an injury, Melissa decided to pursue an academic route, graduating phi beta kappa, summa cum laude from Barnard College, Columbia University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, and receiving her J.D. from Columbia Law School. As a lawyer, Melissa clerked for a federal district court trial judge in Brooklyn and then for a federal appellate judge on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. After clerking for two years, she joined the New York City Police Department as a trial attorney in their Legal Bureau’s Civil Enforcement Unit, prosecuting drunk driving cases in civil court under NYC’s forfeiture provisions, and seeking closures of stores and residences under the city’s nuisance abatement code, when a pattern of crimes were committed therein.
During what was supposed to be a brief hiatus from the practice of law, Melissa found herself being drawn to holistic health care topics and spiritual practices. On a personal search for stress reduction and inner peace, she began studying yoga at various studios in New York City. The gentle and meditative practice at Rasa Yoga (sound-based yoga in the Kripalu and Ayurvedic traditions), drew her deeper into the serious study of the deeper dimensions of yoga. As a result, Melissa did not return to a law practice – instead eventually becoming a yoga teacher and studio manager at Rasa Yoga. That led her to furthering her yoga studies, completing yoga teacher training programs in New York City at The Breathing Project (breath-centered, individualized yoga and yoga anatomy with Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthews), Integral Yoga Institute (Hatha Level 1; Gentle and Chair Yoga), an advanced yoga sequencing training at Yoga Works/ Be Yoga, and Children’s Yoga Teacher Training at Yogi Beans.
On her spiritual path, Melissa has studied past-life regression and hypnosis with Dr. Brian Weiss; shamanic healing with Sandra Ingerman, Alberto Villoldo and Steven Farmer; intuitive development with James Van Pragh, Sonia Choquette, and Doreen Virtue; crystal therapy with Alison James; and feng shui with Miranda Ryan. She has studied meditation with Allan Lokos of the NYC Community Meditation Center, Tai Chi with Jim Green of Rutgers Church, Pangu Qigong with Master Ou, and Tong Ren Qigong with Anubha Boudouris. Melissa was trained in Reiki by Margaret Anne Case of Reiki Arts Continuum and Raven Keyes. She recently graduated from the Synthesis Center as a psychosynthesis holistic wellness coach, and offers lifestyle coaching sessions.
After a 10-year hiatus from dancing during her academic studies, Melissa returned to her childhood passion – dance. She completed the ABT children’s ballet teacher training Primary – Level 3, and a weekend ballet teacher training intensive with Finis Jhung at Alvin Ailey Dance Theater’s Extension School. As a dance model demonstrator in Finis Jhung’s dvds, “The 10-Minute Stretch Break: 14 Choreographed Exercises for Body and Soul”, “”Beginner Ballet Barre”, and “Ballet Barre Stretch and Strength”, Melissa demonstrates stretches and movement exercises geared toward non-dancers and dancers alike. The dvds are available for purchase at www.finisjhung.com. Melissa is also a substitute ballet teacher for Finis Jhung at Alvin Ailey Extension, and has been an assistant children’s ballet teacher at The School at Steps on Broadway’s children’s program. She guest ballet teaches at the Olga Dunn Ballet School in the Berkshires.
In addition to her teaching schedule, Melissa does volunteer work with a number of charitable organizations pertaining to the arts and environment, and is active with many local environmental organizations. She organized the “Yoga and Spirituality Contingent” at the historic People’s Climate March in NYC on September 21, 2014. Melissa also co-founded the West 80s Neighborhood Association and the NYC Coalition of Block and Community Leaders, and received a Westside Spirit award in 2011 for her volunteer community work in NYC. www.west80s.org
She is a member of the Yoga Alliance and the Integral Yoga Teachers Association.
Melissa’s passion is teaching mindful movement and peaceful practices, and all levels from the brand new beginner to advanced students are equally welcome in her inclusive classes and workshops. For more information, please sign up for her monthly newsletter and/or email Melissa at firstname.lastname@example.org