Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth yoga, fitness, & nutrition courses, when you sign up for Outside+.
Liz Arch is my new yoga hero. Not only is her practice powerful, she also has an incredibly kind spirit despite having been the victim of domestic violence. Liz is now West Coast director for Purple Dot Yoga Project, a nonprofit that raises awareness for domestic violence and supports victims through yoga.
Carin Gorrell: You’re trained in both martial arts and yoga, including getting your SmartFlow certification with Annie Carpenter. What do you like about both practices?
Liz Arch: I love the discipline, focus, strength, and humility they cultivate. They’re different paths to achieving similar things. Yoga emphasizes breath, body awareness, and inward reflection. It teaches you how to experience and interact with Self. Martial arts teach you how to interact with someone else’s energy, which ultimately brings you back to Self.
CG: When I learned of your experience with domestic abuse, I was shocked, saddened, and awed by your inner strength. But that first reaction is wrong—domestic violence can happen to anyone. How is Purple Dot Yoga Project addressing misconceptions like this?
LA: Chances are we all know someone who’s been affected, but it’s a silent epidemic that thrives on shame and fear. Part of our mission is to remove the stigma and shame and create a safe space for people to share their stories. It’s healing to know you aren’t alone.
CG: What message do you have for survivors?
LA: You are not alone. You are worthy. You are not broken; you are, in fact, beautifully whole. No matter what you’ve been through, you have the power to write a brave, new ending. It will take work. It will take courage. But healing is possible, and the gift of your trauma is that it creates resiliency and reveals your strength.
CG: Your new YJ online course focuses on mastering tough yoga poses like Flying Pigeon. What do you hope students get out of it?
LA: My intention is to make challenging poses like arm balances and inversions accessible by giving you tools to build strength, balance, and confidence. The course follows an intelligent progression, so poses that may have once eluded you begin to feel like second nature.
CG: What’s your favorite yoga pose?
LA:Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand): It represents the opportunity to breathe, stay calm, cultivate balance, and find strength when your world is literally flipped upside down.
CG: Do you have a mantra or words of wisdom that you live by?
LA: There have been so many moments in my life when I’ve felt small, disempowered, and unworthy, so one of my favorite mantras is “I am enough.” I’ve also felt so much fear and self-doubt, so my other go-to mantra is FEAR: “Face Everything and Rise.”