Meet The Locals: Michelle Cassidy From Essence Of Living

Michelle Cassidy is one of the original Mermaids.

From growing up in the sands of Mermaid Beach to having her own family, we talk to Michelle about the community she holds in her heart. Michelle began her yoga business, Essence of Living, 17 years ago, has plans for a new teacher training centre, and feels strongly about the spiritual harmony she shares with her close ‘family’ in the beach community.

Hi Michelle, how do you begin your day as a wellness instructor?

I start bright and early before the sun rises and before my 5-year-old twins get up. I do a half-hour meditation and then study the traditional teachings for a further half-hour. I make sure I fill up my cup before the day begins.

Where did your love for yoga and all things health begin?

I was 16 and went with my mum to a yoga class at the local surf club.  There were no yoga studios then. I fell in love with ‘Savasana’, the relaxation at the end of the yoga class where I felt so at peace and connected. I wanted to share this feeling with other people. That started my journey.

What brought you to Mermaid Beach?

I came to Mermaid Beach in the 1980s. I grew up here, surfed here, went to school here and now I have my own family and business in Mermaid Beach. I am a Mermaid local.

What do you love most about Mermaid Beach?

Once your spirit has touched the Mermaid Beach lifestyle it will always have a special spot in your heart.  The community has made me love it here – it’s real salt of the earth.

Has it changed at all since your time here?

When I was younger it was mostly weatherboard homes. Now there are modern houses, shopping centres, the surf club is renovated and we have a café culture. The buildings might be new but the heart of the place has never changed. The beaches are still the same.  Pristine, white and sandy. The community has just grown. It’s a beautiful lifestyle.

When did you establish your business, Essence of Living?

I opened the studio 17 years ago in a commercial space on Peerless Avenue.  I bought a commercial site in the Mermaid Medical Centre three years ago.  It was a dream come true to buy a studio in my childhood backyard.

Tell me a little bit about the business?

Essence of Living is more like a family than a business. It’s not just an exercise studio. I still have clients and friends who have been with me since the beginning. We’ve gone to school together, had babies together, ridden waves together and now they come to Essence of Living. It has a real community spirit.

What sort of things do you teach?

We teach yoga, yin yoga, pilates and barre – physical exercise that’s derived from ballet.  We focus on mind, body and spiritual wellness as well as teacher training in all of the methods we share with the community. This gives many aspiring students the opportunity to turn their passion into a career.

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What are your future plans?

I’m planning on establishing a new yoga and pilates educational training centre in the Gold Coast hinterland.

Do you have to be good at yoga to love it?

You don’t have to be physical. I wasn’t naturally flexible. The longer you practice the more you realise it’s all about connecting rather than being physical.

What’s the most challenging thing for your clients right now?

I think it’s Covid uncertainty.  Some people are struggling and others are gliding.  It affects everyone differently.

How has Essence of Living helped them?

People can come to us and reconnect to what’s important.  To let the whole world wash over them.  We’re giving people a safe place to get away from the day-to-day conversations in the world.  We can provide what they need:  if they need to burn off energy,  they can do pilates or barre.  If they need a place of calm and reflection, we do yoga and meditation.

What tips do you give your clients right now?

I think a big one is to breathe. And let go. The other is to be mindful of where they’re putting their energy and attention. To focus on what makes you feel good. And do more of that. To relish our beautiful community.

Thanks for the chat, Michelle, and good luck with growing your business. You can find out more about Essence of Living at the website or 9/2431 Gold Coast Hwy, Mermaid Beach.

Photo credit: Essence of Living website

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