I still remember the first time I took a yoga class. It was February 2007, and my husband had presented me with a gift certificate for classes at a local studio. He had hoped that yoga would release my anxiety over being a new mom and alleviate the constant state of stress that overwhelmed me with every breath. I, too, was excited to try this new way of exercising. My daily workouts had left me feeling physically strong, so I had myself convinced that I would be “great” at yoga. Little did I know that my ego would be knocked down on its knees as soon as I stepped on the mat!
As I huffed and puffed through the poses in that first class, I struggled to understand the foreign guidance to “allow your breath to guide the movement of your body.” Finally, after much shaking and panting to force my hunched over body into triangle pose, the teacher approached me and gently asked, “Where are you trying to get into? Please come down into child’s pose and breathe.” Reluctantly, I listened. As soon as I followed her instructions, I was hit by a wave of peace and a softening in my mind. “What?!” I remember thinking. “I can rest? I’m receiving permission to rest, relax, and breathe?” In that moment, I knew the practice of yoga was going to change my life.
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For Tory Dube, life before SWIHA was a matter of constant performance. As a struggling professional dancer, actor, and comedian, Tory found herself trapped in the cutthroat entertainment industry, constantly facing the judgment of strangers. “I was an anxiety-ridden people pleaser who was hiding a nasty eating disorder,” she recalls. “My self-worth was defined by the people who decided whether or not I booked a job.”
Desperate for a change, Tory booked a space on a yoga retreat in the Bahamas, where she was introduced to meditation. While she found the demand of being totally present painful, it was exactly the spark she needed to start pursuing a new way of life. It was time to conquer her anxiety and food obsession once and for all.
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Deena Gregory has always been a “seeker”—a woman with a self-described “natural curiosity about self and spirit” who in quiet moments often found herself gazing upward at the night sky with a deep sense of awe. Yet, after years of looking to institutions—from organized religion to the halls of academia—for the answers that could only be found within, Deena got caught in a spiritual drought, convinced that there was nothing else bigger “out there” than the humdrum of everyday human life.
“With a new reliance on my own thinking came what the Buddha referred to as ‘Dukkha,’ or suffering,” she explains. “I have always been hailed as a ‘critical thinker.’ Now I laugh and say, ‘Yes, as soon as I start thinking, things get critical!’”
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According to Life Coach and meditation teacher Bill Gisclair-Sullivan, authenticity requires practice: “It is a conscious choice that we must make about how we want to live our lives every day. It is a collection of our choices and decisions, and it requires us to show up, be present in the moment, and to be honest with ourselves.”
The truth is that authenticity usually has to be re-learned because so much of our lives have been spent mastering the many masks we think we must wear to be approved of or to fit into what we imagine is expected of us. A quote from Coach Bill’s website captures his life coaching mission, which emphasizes how we can step into our truest self: "Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we're supposed to be and embracing who we truly are."
Bill is so passionate about this work because it mirrors his own life journey. “It took me many, many years to discover my authenticity,” Bill explains. “I spent most of my adult life working in management in the hospitality field. After making some dramatic mistakes and trying to climb the corporate ladder, I lost some important parts of myself along the way.”
Tune-in! Tune-up! Attune your life to your true passions! These are often the themes for a life coaching session, especially the ones offered by longtime life coach and instructor Laura Barnes, who is a true fan of tuning forks.
A tuning fork is a fork-shaped acoustic resonator that can be used to produce a very pure tone from which others can harmonize. Similar to adjusting a piano, the body and mind can be tuned to achieve optimal physical and mental balance by tapping two tuning forks instantaneously, altering the body's biochemistry and bringing the nervous system, muscles, and organs into harmonic balance. In seconds, the body and mind enters a deep state of relaxation once it experiences the non-judgmental, non-directive, gentle vibrational energy from the tuning forks.
This is a perfect metaphor for life coaching. Laura Barnes, who has taught Life Coaching online for Southwest Institute of Healing Arts for over seven years, explains, “Life coaches help their clients ‘tune in’ to the sacredness of life by being with those they serve in a non-judgmental, non-directive, gentle way! The goal of a coaching session is to bring balance to body, mind, and spirit. It’s known as creating ‘sacred resonance’ with another.”
According to Life Coach and Clinical Hypnotherapist Stacia Aashna, one of the best ways to start the New Year is with a detox of body and mind. In fact, she is offering a perfect prescription for wellness in 2018 with Hypnosis, Meditation, Booch at The Kombucha Room in Chicago in mid-January.
For those who don’t know, “booch” is the term for a fermented tea beverage that detoxifies the body and builds the immune system. It is an ideal companion for those brave souls who are ready to detox their mind of old “personal lies”– that inner dialogue of unconscious, reinforcing statements that keeps you from evolving into your best, most confident, happiest self.
Yet, drinking tea is not the only way to “clear” yourself internally in preparation for what 2018 will bring! This graduate from SWIHA’s Life Coaching and Clinical Hypnotherapy program firmly believes that hypnotherapy is one of the oldest proven detox tools available today and an incredible asset for life coaches to use with their clients.
Reine Matthews is a SWIHA graduate both doing great things and writing great things! Her first book, Thriving After Diagnosis: Instead of Merely Surviving, was just published… and she is already working on a second! Hailing from Northern Idaho, Reine received an AOS Degree in Mind Body Transformational Psychology from SWIHA, with concentrations in Holistic Nutrition and Wellness, Life Coaching, and Urban Farming and Conscious Living.
Reine chose to get into the field of holistic wellness because of her personal journey of being diagnosed with (and thriving beyond!) Lyme Disease. According to the CDC, Lyme disease is the fastest growing vector-borne, infectious disease in the United States, with 25,000 new cases being reported every month for an estimated 300,000 new people being affected per year (25% of which are children). This illness is typically transmitted through a bite from an infected deer tick and has been reported in all 50 states and on every continent, excluding Antarctica.
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The words of the teacher who led the morning yoga practice at the Wanderlust Mindfulness Marathon in Denver, Colorado still ring in my awareness:“What do you need to put down that was not yours to pick up in the first place?
Chelsey Korus is quickly becoming one of yoga's foremost teachers and philosophers. She's been featured in PopSugar, Prevention Magazine, Yoga Journal, Women's Fitness, Mantra Magazine, Fitness Magazine, Shape, and is one of the top teachers on Yogaglo, an online venue for the top yoga teachers in the world to offer video-based asana and philosophy classes.
It’s no surprise that the California-based yoga teacher has been traveling the country as part of the Wanderlust staff. She's been teaching yoga since the age of 15 and has been a lifelong student of various yoga practices, including Anusara, Power Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Acro, as well as martial arts, free form dance, and ballet. The surprise was the way she cued and invited deep inquiry in the middle of the mile-high park setting.
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Alexis Holland grew up in sunny, humid Florida and has spent years bouncing around the country with her husky, Kiya, gaining integral life experience and wisdom. Sometimes she barters musical entertainment for a place to sleep, like the time she stayed in a Vedic Temple in Sedona, AZ in exchange for playing Kirtan (a Sanskrit word for a musical form a narration). They love to set up camp, especially in the mountains, with as little as a tapestry, her blanket, food, and instruments. In the midst of her nomadic lifestyle, her love of music from various cultures began to grow, as well. She found herself attending lots of drum and music festivals, from a Sufi ceremony called a Zikr (sacred ceremony of divine rememberance), to Rainbow Gatherings, a drum and dance festival called Paralounge (northern FL), and a handpan retreat called Hangout USA (Asheville, NC). Along the way she learned to play an array of instruments, trombone being the first in grade school. Since then her collection has grown; she plays the handpan, crystal singing bowls, tuning forks, guitar, cajon, drums, and digeridoo. She reflected, “Music was all around me, in many different forms… wherever I went, there it was…and there I was, fully immersed.”
A Story from our Great Graduate Deborah South-McEvoy
Deborah South-McEvoy happily admits that something bigger than herself brought her to Southwest Institute of Healing Arts (SWIHA). She had heard of the school and was intrigued by it, and she even said that she fought the urgings to enroll. After three years of thinking about it, she finally enrolled in the Yoga Teacher Training 200-hour program along with Yoga Nidra and Yoga Gong.
Yoga was not new to Deborah. She had been taking yoga classes off and on for the six years prior to starting her teaching training. During those six years, this Leo-Lioness started to yearn for more knowledge. “I was on fire with passion and know I needed to pass the information on to others through teaching.”
Since completing her training, Deborah has gone on to create Dare to Soar Yoga, LLC . She is passionate about bringing affordable yoga to the people of Casa Grande, as well as building a yoga community in the town she has resided since 1980. She now teaches beginner and intermediate yoga classes at Central Arizona College. She also facilitates a chair yoga class and a yoga nidra and gong class at the local Cancer Support Center in Casa Grande, AZ. It is the lack of yoga studios in Casa Grande that fueled her passion to go into business for herself. She rented a space at first and is now thrilled to be offering yoga at these two facilities. She still rents a space when she has opportunities to work with private clients. Her services include Beginner, Advanced, and Chair Yoga along with Gong Meditation and Yoga Nidra. Her teaching has a strong emphasis in alignment; breathing and meditation; and also integrating the physical, mental, energetic, and spiritual teachings of the tradition. Deborah believes that yoga enhances the balance between body, mind, and spirit, bringing health to the body and soul through movement, meditation, and the use of breath work as a way of relaxation and gazing inward.
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