Yoga Journal Magazine
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When I meet
people outside the context of a yoga workshop or training, and they hear that
I'm starting to travel nationally to teach and receiving other major
opportunities to share my message on a larger scale, they often have the same
question: "Why you?"
I usually say
something like, "I think that people are attracted to the process of finding,
then living from, their center, all while getting a great whole body
transformation." And I do think that's true. But it's not the whole truth, and
I'd like to share with you the part I usually leave out.
I think some of
my success in the yoga world is happening not just because of my style, but
also because of me. It's difficult for me to say this, as I tend to keep myself
out of the equation lest it seem like I'm tooting my own horn. After all, when
I'm in front of a class, my words and inspirations seem to come not from me but through me, and I spend most of my classes just trying to keep up with my Inner
Teacher's voice. I always say my main job is as a translator of Spirit, not of
But there's more
to it than that. A crucial aspect of expressing my universal energy and
wisdom--and doing so in a way that resonates with my students resonate--is to make them my
own. My personal backstory, woven with its challenges and victories along with a
guiding focus of accessing and expressing core strength in its many forms,
helps me do that strongly.
I don't know
about you, but I find it much more interesting when a teacher, or anyone,
shares their unique voice with me, based on their experiences, beliefs, and
perspectives. These personal elements are what make each of us special. They
also impact the way we filter yoga philosophies and poses and their meaning,
which will differ depending on our worldview.
When I began
teaching, I would sound like whoever was my favorite teacher at the time. I'd
read the texts I thought I was supposed to, and I'd talk in the language I
heard other teachers use. My own voice was so lost in the sauce that it took me
years to find it and then claim it.
What I learned is that
sharing who we are--our struggles, our fears, our stories of personal growth--doesn't diminish
our yoga. It's a magnifying glass we hold up to the expanse of pure
consciousness. The realities of our lives focus the all-pervasive prana and make it something those around us can relate to and
empathize with. This creates its own yoga, the union of likeminded individuals
who understand and support one another as we seek a common way toward the
when we make the universal personal, we not only step into our dharma (the path
of most life force) but into svadharma--our very own translation of universal
energy that, like a snowflake, has no exact match. This is otherwise known as
that those who are successful in their fields bring their own dynamic, clearly
"them-ness" to the table. They use their intuition, inventiveness, and insights
to create a message from their core.
And then they stand by their satya, or truth, no matter who agrees or disagrees
or who comes or goes because of it.
I think it's
important that in our quest to find union with our universal nature, we should
allow and, in fact, we should rock who we are as individuals, so we can give
the world something unique. By sharing who I am--the self within the Self--in
these pages, in the media, or in a classroom, I don't expect my students or
supporters to become clones of me. I want to show them how freeing it is to be
unapologetically oneself, and therefore, encourage them to become even more of
who they are ... both wonderfully human and essentially divine in equal measure.
To me, that's
core strength at its finest.
Have you ever chosen to be like someone else instead of being yourself? How?
And how did you finally decide to take action and claim your own path?
Charlie's Angel's Pose
This is one of
my signature poses and one that helps students strengthen their foundation and
root down, two things that lead to a stronger core connection on all levels.
Malasana with feet wide and turned out slightly in the direction of your knees.
Lower your hips to squat as low as is comfortable, or rest your forearms on
your thighs and begin in a higher stance.
fingers, point your index fingers straight ahead in the "Charlie's Angel's"
mudra, and draw your shoulder blades naturally onto your back.
Inhale while in
the lowered position. Then, exhale, grounding your feet and lifting your hips a
few inches while engaging the pelvic floor and lower belly both in and up.
Inhale, lower a bit more. Exhale, engage, and lift a little higher. Do this 3
to 4 times.
Malasana, release your hands and head towards the floor, and slowly rock from
side to side. Repeat the entire sequence 1 to 3 times.