Have you ever felt so overwhelmed with your life that you wanted to just press pause while you huddled in the corner silently sobbing? Perhaps you let a bill go too long without being paid and now you’re in over your head. Maybe you and your best friend or significant other got into a massive fight and now you’re questioning everything about the relationship. It could be something as little as someone looked at you the wrong way when it was just one of those days. Regardless of the reason, I’m sure we can all agree that there are moments in life where you just want to scream and cry about it. I found myself feeling this way more and more frequently over the past two years. This was weird for me because I’ve always been known to have it together and be a generally bubbly/happy person. However, it was becoming more apparent that I could not regulate the extreme lows and highs of my life with out some assistance. It was this realization that brought me to yoga.
I began my yoga practice less than a year ago. My boyfriend had become so much more grounded and calm after starting his yoga practice and I could tell he felt so much better about himself and the world around him. When I finally decided that yoga was worth trying, I asked for his advice and he recommended that for my introductory class I should try Gentle Flow with Stacy at YogaWorks in Hollywood. I had taken some yoga classes in the past but had never taken any of it as seriously as I should have. My background in dance made many of the poses attainable, but I lacked the strength and focus to get the most out of them. Something about this time trying yoga was different. Perhaps it was my mental state, maybe I was truly ready to alleviate some anguish and find tranquility through movement and quieting my mind. I’m not sure why, but this time around I was so much more open to committing to a yoga practice and establishing it as an important part of my life. As I entered the studio, I was comforted by the stillness and the energy. I felt very supported and my normal competitive streak was washed away with the quiet hum of the room. I took my place on my mat and in walked Stacy.
Something about Stacy was magnetic. It was as if she had this aura surrounding her that was compelling, grounded, fierce and calm all at the same time. I was drawn to her immediately and knew that this was someone I trusted to guide me on my new journey of yoga. Over the next few months, I became accustomed to my spot on the mat and felt more and more free of the trappings of life in Los Angeles. Through Stacy’s method of teaching and the way she shared her practice, I was able to enter the studio as a complete ball of stress and leave feeling as though I could handle anything. Because of this, I knew that I wanted to share what I had found in Stacy’s class with my readers. Read on for some of her thoughts about her yoga practice, philosophy and how you can join in on a yoga retreat of a lifetime:
How long has the practice of yoga been a part of your life? Could you share a difficult time in which yoga has helped you find some clarity or serenity?
Though I found yoga quite early, I abandoned my initial practice after a couple of years and landed on a dangerous path, and in an abusive relationship. My family tried to convince me to walk away, but I couldn’t do it. I was stuck, and surrounded by darkness. One evening I had time to myself and I started to dance. Before long I was holding long stretches and my breathing was more balanced and pronounced. As I transitioned from downward dog to warrior, it became clear that I was no longer simply dancing, I was doing yoga again. I thought to myself, “how did I forget this practice?” A match had been struck within me; I was able to glimpse myself and my situation. After that evening I returned to my daily practice with vigor and that flame grew brighter. It wasn’t easy, but eventually I walked away from that relationship and I’ve been practicing yoga consistently ever since.
What has becoming a yoga teacher taught you about yourself? Is there a time where you have seen one of your students grow physically and/or personally through their own yoga practice?
Becoming a yoga teacher has taught me that I have a great capacity for empathy. I am able to meet students where they are but I am also able to intuit where they are capable of going and it really excites me to help them meet their capacity.
So many times I’ve seen students grow physically through their yoga practice but I’m most excited when I see the changes manifest in their personal life. I believe the most important ingredients for growth are awareness, compassion and courage. As these things deepen in the physical realm they also manifest in the emotional, spiritual, and mental realm.
You have a retreat coming up in Bali this summer. What are you most looking forward to and what can your attendees expect from the experience?
I am most looking forward to our first meal together. There is a certain mysterious energy present at the start of a retreat and breaking bread together can help settle individual nervousness and make room for something more essential to emerge. The first meal is my opportunity to get an intuitive feel for the group and they for each other.
I try to set the tone with a complimentary massage upon arrival, that often starts things off right. Beyond daily yoga practices attendees can explore options to dance, to hike, engage in some local shopping, eat really delicious food, and of course there is time to relax. Another special treat that is not to be missed is a water purification ceremony with the Balinese Hindu priestess, Ida Resi. It is a truly transformational experience. I find that keeping the number of attendees low, no more than 10, helps to create a safe container for people to experience aspects of themselves that may be inaccessible or unprovoked in daily life. Participants will be able to process one-on-one with me individually throughout the retreat, and I develop individual programs for each attendee. I’m also excited to offer a special balinese dance workshop led by a local teacher. My retreats are a collaborative experience. Everyone, including the villa staff, adds to the experience. There is a quality of surrender not only on the part of the participants but on my part as well. I’m very much looking forward to what we create together!
Want to embark on your own yoga journey with Stacy? You’re in luck! Below are several options for you to find your own peace through yoga:
The Rhythm of Synchronicity; A Yoga Experience in Bali July 15-23, 2017
Ignite Your Senses; A Yoga Experience in Finland February 15-23, 2018
Yoga Classes across Los Angeles
Don’t forget to follow Stacy on Instagram!