Leaning In to Help Others Learn and Grow
By Dawn Robinette
Photography by Désirée Shelanskas
Yoga Therapist. Educator. Author. Business Owner. Military Program Developer. Lululemon Ambassador. Military Spouse. Mom. She answers to all of those titles, but it’s easier to identify Melissa Aguirre for the heart, passion and drive she pours into everything she does. Yet like so many others, she struggled with confidence when she was trying to find her path.
“Even though I had all this experience and training, I still struggled to believe in myself. I felt like I needed outside permission because I was so young or what people would think. I thought, ‘Who am I? Who am I to lead this kind of work?'”
The doubt led her to make poor business choices early on, leading to stolen intellectual property and other lessons she had to grow from. “It forced me to look at myself and ask, ‘Why do I need permission or validation from other people that I’m good enough?’.”
Aguirre credits her success to working through the doubts and leaning into faith. “I am brave. I am not afraid to ask or move forward with my visions. I am persistent, I follow up, I show up. I wanted to write a book. What was stopping me? If it is in my heart, why not? This work is not mine to keep, but to share.
“Overthinking is the most insidious form of self-sabotage. So if I feel called to something, I lean in.”
Now the owner of MelMarie Yoga and Boerne Yoga, Aguirre is a holistic life coach and stress management specialist educating and guiding the San Antonio community in adaptive yoga and mindfulness. She also works for the U.S. Army developing mindfulness-based programs to operationalize holistic initiatives across the military to address stress, sleep hygiene, and mental health.
She applies her own teachings to find the calm in her busy life. “I’m a recovering people-pleaser. I think a lot of people can relate to that. We think that our goodness comes from what we do, so we give and give then become depleted. That’s when I was able to recognize the boundaries I wasn’t setting. I realized it is not so much what you do but who you are.”
Part of that is regulating the boundary between her work and personal life with husband Adam and daughter Iyla. “When I’m off, I’m off. I’m not responding to messages. I don’t check email. So there is that ‘practice of what I preach.’ I don’t create a schedule of ‘from this time to this time’; it’s just when my daughter starts talking, my phone goes down.”
She works to model that for others as well. “I want to empower women to let go of this feeling that they’re being a burden or high maintenance, especially when it comes to boundaries and self-care. A lot of women will swallow what they need because they don’t want to seem like they create problems.
“But we need to stand up for what we need, especially for our health. And a lot of people don’t even know what they need because they don’t slow down to check in. Give yourself permission, check in and take inventory on what is not serving you,” she explains. “Put it on paper and start to clear and map out what you want to let go of and what it is that you need. Then ask for it.”
Aguirre approaches life as a student, looking for learnings and growing through them. And these lessons, she applies deeply into her own teachings. “It’s not about avoiding responsibilities because I think we need to be accountable. If you say you’re going to show up, you should show up. But learn from it. When you realize you shouldn’t have agreed to that, don’t do it again. Learn from it. ‘That was not okay, and I’m not doing that again’.”
“We learn who we are by experiencing our contrast. If we feel out of alignment, it’s because it’s showing us who we are not so we can lean deeper into who we are. I don’t fight change. I allow change to change me. I look at experiences as a curriculum that is guiding me on where I need to go.”