September 21, 2012
A glimpse into the personal Yoga journeys of our conference speakers
We recently interviewed each of our conference speakers about their personal transformations through Yoga. We prompted them to share about their teaching discoveries, how their practice and understanding of Yoga has evolved, and supporting students in their transformations. We hope you enjoy their sincere and thoughtful responses, below.
Larry Payne (LP), Nikki Myers (NM), and Cora Wen (CW) shared stories of how Yoga has transformed their lives:
LP: Where do I begin? I was a burned-out high-level advertising executive with serious back issues. I discovered Yoga on my way to finding a cure for my own back pain. Little did I know that it would lead me to changing professions in midlife, and to taking a trip around the world to study Yoga and healing.
NM: Yoga served as a major catalyst in transforming my relationship with myself. When I began to get really serious about Yoga practices in the 1990’s, I was misaligned on many levels. The transformation began at the level of body and then the process toward personal re-integration began (and continues) to reunite every level of my being.
Each of them divulged the best teaching advice they’ve ever received:
CW: It’s interesting as every one of my teachers from my childhood Buddhist sifu to all of my Yoga asana and philosophy teachers have given me the same advice in different ways. They have taught me to look at who is in front of me when I’m teaching. To put away my judgment and self talk beliefs, to look right here, and right now. Who is this person in front of me? Last week they may have dropped back into the most advanced backbend, but today they have energy that is tired, or they are agitated and need rest not action, or vice versa. How do I know what has happened in their life? How can I help? What do they need?
LP: When I took my sojourn around the world, I met the man who authored the first book I ever read about Yoga called Yoga and Health by Selvarajan Yesudian. He said, “Be an example.” I have always tried to live by that great advice in and out of the Yoga studio.
They offered advice for students seeking change through Yoga:
NM: Having had the experience of getting caught in what can be the trap of change, I’m not particularly big on giving advice. What works for me is to share my experience, strength and hope. That being said, a lot of times it seems that what I am asked is fundamentally about moving from doing to being. And depending on what’s happening, what I will often share is something that has become one of the most useful tools for me. In Y12SR, we call it “hitting the pause button.” It’s a simple moment of pausing, internalizing my attention and coming into being before reacting, noticing what’s really present (at the level of sensation rather than thought or emotion), and then as necessary, applying a tool or practice from my tool bag (breathe, move, reach out to someone in my sangha, pray, meditate, etc). What that does for me is expand clarity and then I can do the next good, right, honest thing.
CW: My advice is always to not look so hard and not try so hard. Yoga changes us. Its power is better than any of us as humans can define. As a student, we can desire strength and flexibility in the physical body, and that is helpful to repair ailments of joints, muscles and aches. But the power of Yoga is the ability to stand up when we don’t think we can, to move through what feels insurmountable, and to transcend difficulties with breath and acceptance.
You can read the full interviews with Larry, Nikki and Cora online.
All three of these wonderful teachers are speaking at the Leadership Conference, taking place in Indian Wells, CA next month.