Bonjour from the South of France! (part 1)


Over the years, I’ve learned to tame my impulsiveness. Diving straight in (into whatever catches my fancy) without giving it much thought pretty much defines how I lived my 20s. It was, to say the least, a good practice in learning to trust myself and my heart. And a great practice in testing my willingness. When I saw something that I wanted, I would do whatever it took (and I mean just about whatever it took) to get it.

Now, I do things a bit differently. When I see something that I want, first off I say a prayer. Something along the lines of “This is what I want, and if this is mine by Divine Right, then I am open to receiving it.” The biggest difference, of course, is that I am no longer attached to getting “it.” Naturally, I will take whatever action is necessary on my part. But if at the end of the day, it all falls through, I’ve learned to trust that and move on.

So speaking of impulsiveness and prayer, I will now share the story of how I ended up in France, in one of the most beautiful parts of the world, doing what I do best and having the time of my life.

Earlier this spring, I made my way to the Lower East Side to take a Bikram class with the notoriously handsome Benjamin Sears. I’d never taken his class before, and I don’t know what drove me there that day, but needless to say, I didnt have any expectations. At best, I thought, I would take class lead by a cute guy. Little did I know…

This is Ben. Ladies & gents, he's alot more than just a pretty face!

This is Ben. Ladies & gents, he’s alot more than just a pretty face!

Sometime around the second set of the breathing exercise, Ben starts talking about chakras, and suddenly he’s got my full attention. I’ve become very picky with my Bikram teachers over the years, and finding yet one more teacher in NYC whose class I jammed with felt like Christmas in May. Later that day, I shot Ben an email. Something like, “Love what you got going on in the hot room. I know you’re up to stuff in France. I want to be part of it.”

And by “up to stuff”, I mean LUXYoga, the fabulous yoga retreats in the South of France. I made myself as savory as possible (“I speak French! I have experience in event production!”). We didn’t know each other, but I was already willing to make the time in my life, jump on a plane, work at the villa, and have generous helpings of whatever the hell this guy was serving in his class. Oh, and on his dinner table. Ben’s retreats have become famous not only because of the caliber of teaching (he also has amazing guest-teachers), but also because of the dinner parties that take place at the villa each night.

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Before getting here, I did lots of praying. And releasing– constantly. Anytime I got a setback (french consulate was by far the biggest), I reminded myself to release and let go. And trust. If this is meant to happen, it will.

This has been so sweet & pleasant because I simply adore the people that I am working with. And of course, hello, umm, south of France? Yes, please! I’m also hanging out with Craig Villani, who was pretty much my favorite part about Bikram teacher training (he was the Directors of it when I attended). Ben and Craig are teaching the Bikram sequence as a form of therapy and they have compassion and self-love at the forefront of it all. They are bringing it all back to the basics: primarily breath, but also detailed alignment and structure. And doin it with style!

me with Dan Prattley, the Director of Hospitality at LuxYoga. Or as I like to call him, the James Bond of Lux.

me with Dan Prattley, the Director of Hospitality at LuxYoga. Or as I like to call him, the James Bond of Lux.

So here I am, working at LuxYoga, doing my thing: event production. Creating an experience for our guests through careful attention to all the details involved. I get to pamper people, making them as comfy as possible. I loved listening to some of the guests tell me towards the end of the retreat: “I love it here. You guys made it feel so homey.”

Bingo. Mission accomplished.


My name is Mishel Ixchel. I’m Ecuadorian-born &
NYC-bred. Western Mass is currently home, and it's also where I practice + teach the art of
Sacred Self Care.