Melissa Scott is a therapist and yoga teacher based in Birmingham, AL, where her work focuses on eating disorder recovery, anxiety, and trauma. Her practice welcomes all identities.
Melissa holds space beautifully for those she coaches and teaches, leaving room for everyone to discover their own inner warrior.
“I want everyone to know how strong they are, inside and out,” says Melissa.
We spoke with her about the intersection of therapy and yoga, and how she finds time to care for herself, while helping others.
How does your work as a yoga instructor and licensed professional counselor intersect?
For me, there's no separation between the two. Both are about overall health and wellness and building a healthy relationship with your mind and body. Therapy and yoga are each powerful tools in their own right, and there's so much overlap between them. With my counseling clients, I do a lot of work around mindfulness, meditation, and mind-body connection. With my yoga students, I give a lot of attention to self-talk and the way our "stories" show up on the mat. I think each one can help reinforce the other.
In your yoga classes, you share the mantra, "You're stronger than you think you are." Can you tell us why that resonates with you and your students?
I first said "You're stronger than you think you are" because I needed to hear it. I came to my yoga mat with the belief that I wasn't a physically strong person, which of course translated to other areas of my life. Yoga taught me I was actually incredibly strong, and my body was capable of some really cool things. The first time I said "You're stronger than you think you are" out loud, I was like, "Yes, that's it! That's the thing I'm meant to share!" I think it resonates with others because we all have those stories we believe about ourselves, and we all need to work to untangle them.
As a recovered eating disorder survivor, you now have a beautiful relationship with movement and exercise. How has that evolved for you, and what along the way are you most proud of?
The biggest thing for me is that I only do movement that I love. My disorder, like a lot of people's, pushed me to exercise in ways that weren't fun or joyful.
I think the thing I'm most proud of now is being in dialogue with my body about what it loves to do and responding to that in a loving way.
You teach clients about mindfulness. What should we know about starting a mindfulness practice in our own lives?
I want people to know that mindfulness is hard work. It's not just this easy thing we start doing one day that fixes everything. It requires patience and grace toward yourself.
Maintaining emotional wellness requires continual recalibration. How do you take care of yourself when you feel like you need a tune-up?
Such a good question! It's definitely an ongoing process. For me, staying in community is crucial. I've built a network of healthy people who know my story and what I need. We check in with each other regularly and lovingly hold each other accountable when we need it. Having those folks to reflect with is both a blessing and a necessity.
What are some ways you share messages of positivity and inclusivity with your community?
I guess I could say something about what I share on social media or how I try to "brand" myself, but the truth is, I just try to live it. In my everyday life, I try to be authentic, to really listen to people, and to speak up when I feel like my voice would make a difference. Getting a big message out there is important, but it's equally important to do that on the small scale, too, even if it's just in line at the grocery store. I like to think that's how real change happens.
WARRIOR FOR CHANGE