Celebrities Are Training to Become Yoga Teachers…for the Right Reasons

Emma Watson arrives for the UK Premiere of Noah.

Have you dreamt about teaching yoga? You have plenty of company—in Hollywood. Celebs like Emma Watson and Demi Moore have recently taken their practice to the next level by becoming certified yoga teachers. And no, they’re not just jumping on the latest fitness fad.

“A lot of celebrities with hectic schedules are welcoming the opportunity to explore their practice at the deep level that a teacher training demands,” says Santa Monica yoga teacher Amy Lombardo, who has taught Gisele Bundchen and Laura Dern. “Whether or not someone actually teaches professionally is secondary to the personal journey. I don’t know many people who go through a teacher training and don’t have their lives totally transformed.”

Brenda Strong, 54, who stars on the TNT remake of ’80s soap opera Dallas, couldn’t agree more. “No matter how demanding physically or emotionally my work is, I feel teaching grounds me in what is important,” says the Desperate Housewives alum, who completed her teacher training in 1994 at YogaWorks with Erich Schiffmann.

Brenda Strong

Maybe that’s why so many other celebrities are pursuing yoga beyond a casual practice. “I think most actors are very brave soul searchers and researchers of life,” says Strong, who continues to teach workshops and run a teacher training once a year in the Los Angeles area for her fertility program, StrongYoga4Women. ”Yoga provides that very exploration through daily practice. I can only speak for myself, but being an actor teaches me to shape space, have specific intentions. And leading a class employs the power of observation, presence and trust that I also use in my work as an actor, so it’s a natural fit.”

While it might be hard to take celebrities seriously as yoga teachers (insert eye roll here), Strong says those who become certified to teach are just as dedicated as anyone else.  ”Anyone—whether they are a celebrity or non-celebrity—that enters into a yoga teacher training program is serious about deepening their understanding of yoga asana and yoga philosophy,” she says. “These trainings are time intensive and require a tremendous commitment. I think anyone who goes to the extent of becoming a yoga teacher does it because they are deeply committed to self-growth.”

Here are four other Hollywood stars who embarked on the yogic journey and why they might inspire you:

1. Emma Watson

The Harry Potter actress, 24, became certified to teach yoga and meditation last year as a way to cope with life on the road. “I was like, ‘I need to find a way to always feel safe and at home within myself because I can never rely on a physical place,” she told Elle Australia in April.

Reason You’ll Relate: “Yoga is a practice that lives within you and you can take it wherever you go,” Lombardo says. “I have found for folks that are constantly on the move, the foundation the training gives them provides them with a deep sense of grounding and stability and ‘home’ from within.”

2. Demi Moore

After her divorce from Ashton Kutcher, Moore, 51, reportedly embarked on a three-day workshop to receive her Kundalini teaching certification at Nine Treasures Yoga studio in West Hollywood.

Reason You’ll Relate: ”Messy break-ups can leave you feeling unraveled and entirely vulnerable at the core,” Lombardo says. “In a training program, you are given a lens to make sense of the recent trauma from the perspective of the soul. You are given an opportunity to turn your pain into fertilizer that is in better alignment with your truth.”

3. Kristin Davis

Long before she became a household name as Charlotte on Sex and the City, Davis found her calling as an Ashtanga yoga teacher in Los Angeles. “I started doing yoga in my ’20s,” the 49-year-old has said. “I did teacher training. That was what I was going to do if acting didn’t work out. I started teaching other actors right at the beginning of the yoga craze.”

Reason You’ll Relate: ”Many find after a training they have a lot more clarity about where they want to go with their life and end up starting new jobs,” says Lombardo. “It’s quite a magical time of transformation and stepping into your own power in a greater way.”

4. Ryan Kwanten

True Blood actor Ryan Kwanten, 37, is such a big believer in the power of a good Vinyasa flow that he completed 400 hours of training to become a certified yoga teacher. “Guys fear not being the best in these classes, but over time you learn how to spend an hour not worrying about what anyone else is thinking,” the Aussie actor told Men’s Health in 2010. “For guys, especially, that’s a good thing.”

Reason You’ll Relate: ”When you take on a training, you’ll be challenged to learn how to use the practices to deal with the obstacles in your own path: worry, stress and anxiety,” Lombardo says. “With the support of the practices and a deep immersion in a supportive community, the teacher training often acts as a safe place to learn how to deal with these inner challenges and gain strength and confidence in your ability to calm the mind.”

Want to turn your own fantasy of becoming a yoga teacher into a reality?  Find a teacher training program near you here.

—Dana Meltzer Zepeda

In Partnership with lululemon: Teaching Yoga + Self-Love

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Yoga teacher Elizabeth Crisci wants you to change the story you tell yourself.  

I’ve spent the last year writing on my blog about body image and my journey to make peace with my own body. It’s been very freeing and has connected me to so many wonderful people who can relate. But it was scary at first to tell people that I don’t always love myself. What I’ve since realized is that all of us are going through this same struggle.

Sometimes we like our reflection, and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we are dissatisfied because we need to make a change, we don’t feel good and our reflection is showing us that. But so many of us are practicing yoga every day, making healthy choices, feeling good, but we still look in the mirror and we don’t like what we see. We’re comparing ourselves to images that have been heavily photoshopped. Even the women in those pictures don’t look like the pictures.

Elizabeth Crisci

It has been my wish for women everywhere to start talking about this freely, we need to release this from our stories. We can reclaim our image and our right to feel beautiful, our right to love ourselves. As individuals, we have complex and compelling relationships with our bodies. We are all a little bit different, but we are learning the same lesson. Self-love is the key to all love. It is the road to happiness. Yoga is one way to cultivate self-love, but it is also a choice we have to make to rewire our brains and choose to focus on everything we love about ourselves.

Elizabeth Crisci lives and teaches in Fairfield County, CT. She loves her students, her partner, her dogs and her mat. Elizabeth is teaching Love What Is, a vinyasa workshop incorporating self-love as a practice, in studios throughout the Northeast in 2014. 

The Practice of Leadership is a series of conversations about conscious leadership in the modern world. Join us on Facebook and sign up for our next Leadership experience here.

#FindYourInspiration, Your Tribe, and Your Inner Ninja

KB

I’m a huge proponent of finding your tribe. My tribe is made up of some of the strongest women I know. These ladies are confident, fearless, and most importantly supportive—always pushing me to do better. I want to introduce you one who carries all of these credentials and more. Liz Arch is a powerhouse LA yoga teacher who flows with grace both on the mat and in her martial arts practice. Learn more about this empowered beauty and how she believes we can all lift each other up.

Kathryn Budig: Your style of yoga is called “Primal Yoga.” Can you elaborate on your martial arts background and why you think it complements yoga? Oh, and what’s it like to be a ninja?

Liz Arch: I created Primal Yoga® as a way to bridge my yogic and martial arts practices together to create balance, strength and synergy in our physical and emotional bodies. They are yin and yang energies that when combined, create a beautiful dance between hard and soft, strength and suppleness, control and surrender. For me personally, yoga and martial arts are ultimately about the art of yielding—working with energy and using as little force as possible to achieve a maximum result.

My background is in traditional Northern-Style Kung Fu and Yang-Style Tai Chi. I hold a Tai Chi Quan certification from the Beijing Tai Chi and Kung Fu Academy and currently train at LA WUSHU. I also recently started Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, which I absolutely love! As for being a ninja—I’m a full-on badass in my head, but for some reason Jackie Chan hasn’t called me yet to be his stunt double.

KB: You did a gorgeous photo shoot with Robert Sturman where you refused to be photoshopped. I love a fierce woman who embraces her beauty exactly as it is. What were your hopes for people viewing those images?

LA: Thank you! As a woman, I have struggled with body image issues, and it has been a long journey to self-acceptance. As a health and wellness professional, it’s very easy to compare myself to others and feel like I’m falling short. When I started becoming more active in social media, I wanted to make sure I was encouraging more self-love and less self-criticism and comparison. I’ve had cellulite on my butt since I was 13 years old, and it took me a long time to realize that there’s nothing unsightly or unhealthy about my body. What we see in the media is not always an accurate representation of reality, so I wanted to show all sides of myself, not just my “best” angles. Admittedly, there are still moments when I’m my own worst critic, but I’m getting much better at holding a compassionate space for myself and celebrating all parts of me, especially the jiggly bits!

KB: I know you hail from Hawaii, where you weren’t necessarily raised with the best blueprint for healthy eating. How did this impact you and what helped lead you onto a healthier path? 

LA: Diabetes is prevalent in my family and I grew up on a diet of spam, rice and sugar. My dad is an amazing cook, but we ate much more for taste than nutrition. I was a really chubby baby and was praised for being a “good eater.” Fortunately, I lost my baby fat quickly, but I still didn’t have any awareness about proper nutrition and how to eat for energy. I discovered yoga in college and had no idea at the time how much of an impact it would have on the course of my life and my health. I thought I was just signing up to get my sweat on, but over 10 years later, I’ve completely changed the way I eat, the way I move, the way I feel, the way I think, and the way I live. I knew something had majorly shifted the day my spam musubi cravings turned into kale smoothie cravings! Now I nourish my body and spirit with healthy food, healthy friendships, laughter, movement and meditation.

KB: You are an incredibly bold, honest and beautiful woman. What lesson could share to help other women be confident?

LA: Be authentically you and above all be compassionate to yourself. I spent so many years worrying about what people thought of me, that I never stopped to consider what I thought about myself. It was a huge light bulb moment for me to realize that the majority of my negative talk was completely self-generated. Someone once told me, “In your 20s, you worry about what everyone thinks of you. In your 40s, you don’t give a crap about what people think about you. In your 60s, you realize no one was thinking about you at all.” The only expectations we have to live up to are the ones we place on ourselves. So make a conscious choice everyday to lift yourself up, rather than put yourself down. By the same token, let’s also lift up those around us! We can accomplish so much more together in the spirit of collaboration and camaraderie, than we can by competition and comparison.

Kathryn Budig is the yoga teacher behind AIM TRUE, a regular contributor to Yoga Journal, and a presenter at Yoga Journal LIVE!. 

In Partnership with lululemon: Getty’s Lean In Collection Is More than Pretty Pictures

Black woman wading in ocean on beach
At the lululemon/Yoga Journal Practice of Leadership conference earlier this summer, passionate discussion revolved around the representation of the “yoga body” in popular culture. And the conclusion was unanimous: Marketing imagery must be more multi-dimensional and inclusive—celebrating yogis of all ages, colors, and sizes.

Of course, it’s a conversation that reverberates beyond the yoga world. From cartoon heroines to magazine covers, real girls and women rarely see themselves reflected in the images that bombard them. Which is why stock photo house Getty Images and Lean In, Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg’s non-profit, have partnered to produce images that empower women by portraying them as complex, diverse, and authentic beings.

The new Lean In collection, which currently features over 3,000 photos, is offered alongside traditional imagery from the Getty archives. So an advertiser can now choose a shot of a silver-haired septuagenarian in workout clothes (vs. a young, blonde fitness model), a teenage girl in a hockey mask (vs. talking on the phone), or an elementary school student doing science homework (vs. playing with dolls). The collection isn’t as deep as one might hope (no yogis!), but the subtle messages its imagery sends are often strikingly different from those typically telegraphed throughout pop culture.

Take a look at the “before” and “after” images we found to illustrate a few of our favorite words:

Health

Traditional stock image:

Lean In/Getty image:

Serenity

Traditional stock image:

Lean In/Getty image:

Joy

Traditional stock image:

Lean In/Getty image:


Can Getty’s Lean In collection make a positive difference? Join our conversations about conscious leadership in the modern world on Facebook and sign up for our next Leadership experience here.

In Partnership with lululemon: A Body-Positive Summer Anthem

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It’s as certain as sand between your toes: Every summer, a slew of catchy, lighthearted love songs dominate the airwaves. But Colbie Caillat’s 2014 entry, “Try,” isn’t the traditional boy-meets-girl bubblegum track—it’s a love letter to natural beauty with a powerful, body-positive message.

In Caillat’s music video, released in late July, the singer slowly strips off her makeup and hair extensions while singing lyrics like “Take your make-up off/Let your hair down/Take a breath.” Women of diverse ages and races join her, starting out with “perfect” hair and makeup and transforming, by the song’s close, into their natural, bare-faced selves complete with untamed hair, wrinkles, and glowing smiles.

The video struck a chord on social media and it’s been viewed almost 20 million times. In interviews, Caillat said she was nervous to stand in front of her crew without an ounce of makeup, but that she was inspired by the women who joined her. ”They were so beautiful and comfortable, standing there with a smile as they were singing with no makeup on,” she told the Los Angeles Times. “They weren’t hiding in their own skin, they were just like, ‘Yeah, this is me.’”

Perhaps she also took a few deep breaths, since Caillat has championed mindfulness in the past. In the below segment for “Sesame Street,” Caillat and rapper Common teach Elmo and his friends to “belly breathe” in times of stress.

It’s a refreshing message to hear from a pop singer: Breathe, find your center, and stay true to yourself—no matter your size, age, or the color of your fur.

—Jasmine Moir

The Practice of Leadership is a series of conversations about conscious leadership in the modern world. Join us on Facebook and sign up for our next Leadership experience here.

6 Ways to Meditate Today from Deepak Chopra + Gabrielle Bernstein

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Yoga Journal LIVE! presenters Deepak Chopra and Gabrielle Bernstein hosted the Global Meditation for Peace in Toronto today, the largest meditation gathering to date, according to Guinness World Records. They were accompanied by a live performance by India Arie. Bummer if you missed it, but there’s still time to ride the wave of peace rippling across the globe.

“Connecting with others’ positive, peaceful energy is extremely powerful,” Bernstein says. And Chopra says meditating in groups raises the collective consciousness. “The more people are expanding their awareness, the more we can alter society for the better,” he explains. “And since the theme of the Global Meditation is peace, we are hoping that as we focus our intention on peace in a large, cross-cultural, around-the-world group, we can reach critical mass and make peace sustainable.”

Not sure where to start? Here are Chopra and Bernstein’s top tips for getting started with meditation today.

1. Try it tonight. “Morning and evening coincide with our body’s quieter rhythms,” Chopra says. “Our body knows how to be still; we just have to give it opportunity.”

2. Make time—just a little. “The effects of meditation are cumulative, and setting aside as little as 15 minutes a day to retreat and rejuvenate is beneficial,” Chopra says. “Many schools of meditation prescribe 30 minutes of meditation twice a day, and as your meditation practice evolves, you can extend your time. But it’s better to spend just a few minutes meditating every day rather than meditating for an hour a week.”

3. Be consistent. “The most important advice that I’d give a new meditator is to be consistent,” Bernstein says. “It doesn’t matter how long you meditate, what matters is that you do it daily. The more often you practice the more peace you will experience and the easier it will be to sit longer. Begin with one minute a day.”

4. Get comfy. “It is preferable to sit up straight on the floor or on a chair to help cultivate alertness, but if you are ill or need to lie down, that is fine,” Chopra says. “Being comfortable is most important.”

5. Let thoughts be. “Thoughts will inevitably drift in and dance around your mind, but that’s normal,” Chopra says. “Don’t try to do anything with them—let them be. If you find yourself thinking about what’s passing through your mind, just return to focusing your awareness on the mantra or your breath. You will soon slip into the space between thoughts.”

6. Just breathe. “When we pay attention to our breath, we are in the present moment,” Chopra says. “In an unforced, natural rhythm, allow your breath to flow in and out, easily and effortlessly.”

Try it now: Bernstein’s One-Minute Breath

Practice this breathing technique for one minute daily.

1. Inhale for 5 seconds

2. Hold for 5 seconds

3. Exhale for 5 seconds

4. Hold for 5 seconds

5. Repeat

Want more meditation tips from Bernstein? Join us for her Miracles Now presentation at Yoga Journal LIVE! Florida in November.

ln Partnership with lululemon: Elena Brower on Leadership

Elena Brower
If you so much as dabbled in yoga in New York City over the past 12 years, chances are you found your way to Virayoga. Elena Brower’s beloved SoHo spot was more than a studio—it was a warm, welcoming community and global hub for yogis of all shapes, sizes, ages, and abilities. As heartbroken as we were to hear of Vira’s closing this June, we’re also excited to see what comes next for its multi-dimensional, always-evolving owner.

As part of our ongoing conversation about The Practice of Leadership, we asked the world-renowned teacher for her perspective on inclusiveness and staying true to yourself.

YogaJournal.com: How do you define yoga?
Elena Brower:
Coming home to myself.

YJ: What were your studio’s core values?
EB:
To provide a haven for the healing of downtown NYC after 9/11. And to offer superb teachings and teachers to the SoHo community.

YJ: Did you ever have to adjust to meet changing trends in the yoga world?
EB: 
No. I did my own thing, always.

YJ: What advice would you give someone trying to create a company with soul?
EB:
Stay true to yourself—that soul will always come through.

YJ: How did you know it was time to move on?
EB:
Practical reasons: Rent going up was the first door. Then in taking a good look at my numbers and time constraints, I realized that there were adventures I wanted to experience both personally and professionally that couldn’t happen until I was able to free up some time.

YJ: What’s something a teacher should always do to create a non-threatening, welcoming space?
EB
: Learn names, afford lots of silence, trust that you’re all there to help each other grow.

YJ: Are there subtle messages that teachers sometimes send that can be unintentionally intimidating or reinforce the idea of a “perfect” body?
EB:
There is no perfect body. For me, it’s best to simply teach what works architecturally, which leads us all to a more open and optimal flow in our bodies. I’m learning from my teachers at Katonah Yoga that we all have habits in our practice and in our lives. So we use our yoga to learn very specific new habits (how to hold our feet, hands, etc.), so this flow is optimized and we aren’t stuck in our preference. Preferences limit what’s possible. When we’re in the right measure and form, the flow is optimized, and that’s the “perfect” moment: when our eyes want to close and breathing fills out and our bodies become more dimensional.

YJ: From marketing campaigns to social media, images of the “yoga body” abound. What’s your take?
EB:
I just want to see the yogis and their real bodies. We are all such different shapes, and to see the full range of possibilities in the media is helpful and healing for all of us.

YJ: What makes you feel the most beautiful?
EB: 
Waking up to the sunrise and sitting quietly to welcome the day.

YJ: How does your personal practice affect your relationship to your body?
EB: My personal practice helps me remember my strength, my softness, and my listening. All three are key in nurturing a nourishing relationship to myself. When I forget even one of those, I’m unmoored.

YJ: What are you focusing on now?
EB: I’m spending more time with my son, my friends, on my guitar, painting, and on creative projects. [I’m] designing an audio meditation course for fall/winter launch and a capsule clothing collection for Lole as well as another retail store. (I’m going back to my design roots.) I’m continuing to teach in NYC, continuing coaching for Handel Group, and taking lots of long baths …

The Practice of Leadership is a series of conversations about conscious leadership in the modern world. Join us on Facebook and sign up for our next Leadership experience here

New Facial Helps Balance Your Chakras—and Your Skin Tone

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We go for a facial when we need to balance our skin tone. We balance our chakras in order to feel better and achieve a higher level of consciousness. Now, the skincare company behind a new facial at downtown Manhattan’s Wink Brow Bar claims to do both—and make you look younger, too.

Isabelle Lancray, a 65-year-old French skincare brand, introduced their anti-aging chakra facial at Wink a couple of months ago. Facialist Amer Bukhari uses a combination of Isabelle Lancray products and LED lights to tackle each client’s individual skin care needs—and offer a little chakra therapy in the process.

Before he gets to the chakras (the seven energy centers in the body, according to the ancient system), Bukhari begins the facial by offering skincare analysis. “Oh my God, have you been in the sun?” he gasped when he looked at this blogger’s Caribbean suntan under the lights (I swear I wear sunscreen). He also observed a few stress lines and a lot of dehydration. “Maybe you are a coffee-aholic?” he asked (guilty as charged); a bit of acne on my chin (hormonal imbalance, he mused); and some broken capillaries around my nose, which he attributed to my childhood bout with asthma.

“Today’s mantra for me will be to desensitize your skin and hydrate,” he said, while applying an Isabelle Lancray enzyme peel for sensitive skin (he also used other mostly plant-derived Isabelle Lancray products to calm and cool my skin). “I’ll be using green lights to purify, balance the oil and brighten; red lights for your capillaries; blue lights to calm inflammation and yellow ones for the lines on your forehead.”  (According to Umbreen Sheikh, head of Isabelle Lancray USA, LED lights are a safe way to send extra packets of energy down to the deeper layers of the skin, boosting collagen production, reducing inflammation and rejuvenating skin.)

He then used the same lights for the chakra therapy, to achieve more subtle goals. “Different light colors have different properties and different impacts on the on mind-body connection,” he explained. “In this case, it’s the face-mind connection.”

Since caring for my almost 2-year-old appeared to be taking a bit of a toll on my skin, Bukhari decided to focus mostly on my heart chakra, which is associated with love and relationships. ”You are a mother, having your own fair share of stress,” he said, shining a green light over my chest. “If you don’t love yourself, you don’t feel confident, you feel imbalanced and sad.”

To alleviate my stress levels, he applied all four lights together (green, red, blue and yellow, mostly yellow) over my head (the crown chakra) as well as the third-eye chakra, to enhance my intuition and create a feeling of bliss. He also applied blue light to my throat chakra for serenity and improved self-expression. “For me, beauty is more holistic,” Bukhari said. “When you’re tense, you don’t look your best. When you’re in a state of bliss, your muscles relax, your skin relaxes.”

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Bukhari demonstrates the chakra facial.

Bukhari also left me with a piece of sage advice. When I revealed to him that at 37, my skin was beginning to show the first signs of aging, he counseled, “Stop sending your brain messages that you are 37. Now, the brain starts acting like a 37-year-old person acts. Tell yourself, “The revolution of the Earth around the sun has nothing to do with me. If 37 is stuck in your mind, rub it off and write 27 on there.”

I’m not sure if it was the colored lights or the enzyme peel, but when I walked out of Bukhari’s facial room, totally makeup-free, I definitely felt like I had the glowing skin of a 27-year-old.

What You Can Do at Home

While you probably don’t have a customized LED light machine at home, Bukhari says you can treat yourself to a very simple “chakra facial” by giving yourself affirmations that you are brighter, younger and more beautiful while you’re applying your skincare products. Or, you can meditate on your navel chakra for at least 10-15 minutes, which will improve your emotional balance and digestion, and thereby rejuvenate your skin.

—Jennifer D’Angelo Friedman

For a limited time, Wink Brow Bar is offering complimentary chakra facials with the purchase of products. Please call (212) 600-1857 for more information.

In Partnership with lululemon: The Body-Empowerment Side of Yoga

Emily Nolan, NYC

On her popular lifestyle site, My Kind of Life, Emily Nolan inspires her readers to be gentle—with themselves and with others. Here, the blogger and model shares a piece of her personal journey toward a kinder, more loving body image.

Yoga: a hot mess of sweat, with a hyper-fit instructor repeatedly leading the group into awkward and uncomfortable positions on a tiny mat for over an hour. How could someone pay to do that? Not me.

That’s how I felt 10 years ago.

Looking back, I know now why staying on the mat was so hard for me, even for just a few minutes: It required me to live with myself. And I was unhappy with the body I was given (soft, but athletic). Unlike the graceful women in dance class, I was the strong, athletic softball player with rock-hard thighs that almost always outsized those of my boyfriends’.

But happily, my first attempts fulfilled me just enough to keep going back. For me, yoga became not just a movement practice, but a place where I could work through all of the crap I had never wanted to deal with: eating disorders, the female athlete triad, body dysmorphic disorder, stress, love, joy, wanting, acceptance. Despite my constant internal struggle to show up to practice, I knew it was something my body had long been yearning for.

As I learned to sit with my own silence and clean out my dusty drawer of thoughts, I began to find solace in yoga. In 20 years of life, it was the first movement practice I participated in that was inclusive—where I could be any age, size, or color.

In the beginning, heaps of emotions would find their way out of me and onto my mat. In moments of stillness and body-drenching sweat, my mind would finally find the space to feel happy. To feel worthy enough to be just as I am: a beautiful, strong body without illness. A mind and body that does not need any fixing, because it’s perfect just the way it is.

After years of dumping my daily stressors on a small mat fully committed to giving my body a safe haven, I noticed that I had never noticed something. I had been totally unconcerned with whether or not yoga had a “size” (like everything else in life—especially in my profession as a model). Quite possibly, that’s why the flow was so healing. It was the first movement in my life that was non-violent, incorporating my body and mind as one.

Yoga was so far from six-pack abs and college boot camp, yet when I practiced, a toned body and a healthful lifestyle were added benefits. My healthier decisions were all choices that I made on my own—not because I was seeking validation, as with almost all of my pre-yoga decisions. The healing practice gave me the confidence to feel worthy again. Worthy when, at times, I doubted I would ever again love myself the way I did as a young, uninhibited child. Of course, it was my decision to continuously practice, but the community of yogis—all of you guys—changed the trajectory of my body confidence. You loved me then, and still.

Most of us go to yoga because our day stops (for a while) and our health accelerates. We go to yoga in search of community—not judgment. We go to yoga because it’s healing. And most importantly, we go to yoga because it’s an expression of gratitude for the healthy body with which we’ve been blessed.

As humans, we are connection-seekers. Since when did movement become this unfulfilling word, “exercise?” Since when did we start exercising to seek a new body, and stop moving with fulfillment to appreciate the body we already have?

As life flows in and out like the tide of a wild ocean, we all change. Our bodies morph. Our strength grows, and it also weakens. Our endurance ebbs and flows. A practice that is inclusive to all is a practice that will last as long as our bodies do. There is no “size” of a life, unless you measure our light, our compassion, our love. If yoga could speak, I bet it would agree.

It would probably say something like, “You are perfect, just the way you are.”

The Practice of Leadership is a series of conversations about conscious leadership in the modern world. Join us on Facebook and sign up for our next Leadership experience here.

photo by Michael Weschler