The Buddha Spotlight introduces you to Certified Yoga Teacher (RYT), Holistic Health Practitioner, Intuitive Counselor, and Author of Yes, Yoga Has Curves, Dana A. Smith.
Goddess Mena Love: Why did you decide to open a yoga studio?
Dana A. Smith: I was inspired to open a yoga studio after I had outgrown teaching in my home. I wanted to reach more people but couldn’t do it out of the basement of my home. I set the intention to have a space that would better allow me to serve my community and through a string of miracles I was able to open my studio in 2008.
Goddess Mena Love: Explain Jiivana Yoga.
Dana: Jiivana Yoga (pronounced Jee-Vah-Nah) is actually a style of yoga created by me. I’ve experienced many wonderful styles of yoga and found that there were pieces of each that really resonated with me. I had been facilitating yoga teacher training for 4 years and realized that in order for me to teach my trainees in a way that was authentic to me I had to create my own style of yoga. My yoga practice led me to Thai Yoga Massage, which led me to Reiki, which led me to Life Coaching. All of these modalities allowed me to grow mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically and I wanted my trainees and my students to experience something similar. I didn’t want them to rely solely on coming to class to heal or even coming in for a Thai Massage or Reiki treatment. I wanted to teach others how to create a strong foundation to grow and feel empowered by what they were learning. For me yoga is life and I searched for a Sanskrit word that translated Life and Jiivana was that. I went further to break the word Life into an acronym – Living Inspired and Fearless Everyday. My belief is that we should be inspired in life. The things around us should inspire us, motivate us. We should be courage enough to release fear (f.alse e.vidence a.ppearing r.eal) and flow in light everyday.
Goddess Mena Love: Do you find it hard to expose yoga to African Americans?
Dana: I wouldn’t say it is hard but in some instances it has taken a lot of work to dispel the myths and educate on what yoga is and what it isn’t.
Goddess Mena Love: What advice can you give to people who are afraid to integrate yoga with their current belief system or religion?
Dana: My advice would be for them to let go of fear and lean what the true essence of yoga is. Yoga is a healthy system designed to align mind, body and spirit. It isn’t reliant on any religion or belief outside of you believing that you have the power to shift your life for the better. Education is key! Most people new to yoga have not idea of what it is and how it can help them. Giving them the history and purpose of yoga goes a long way in making others feel comfortable in practicing.
Goddess Mena Love: Do you have any tips on yoga and fertility?
Dana: The key to yoga and fertility is balancing the sacral chakra (home of the womb) and the heart chakra (the true brain). The mind is also a powerful thing and as the quote above states you have to believe it (that you are fertile, supple and a vehicle for life) in order for it to be so. I’ve worked with quite a few wonderful women who were getting over womb issues and infertility issues. I always have them to start out with forgiveness exercises (for self) and then advise them on ways to balance the sacral chakra.
Goddess Mena Love: Finish this statement. Yoga gives me access to…..
Dana: Yoga gives me access to my unconditional joy.
Goddess Mena Love: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from teaching yoga?
Dana: I learned that people are much stronger than they give themselves credit for! I also learned that I can be a positive force to facilitate change in others.
Goddess Mena Love: Can you explain Thai Yoga Bodywork and the benefits?
Dana: Thai Yoga Bodywork (also known as Thai Yoga Massage) is an ancient form of therapeutic healing. It combines acupressure, energy balancing, stretching, and yoga asanas. There many are benefits of Thai Massage. It increase flexibility, range of motion and energy level.
Goddess Mena Love: You have a variety of ongoing workshops at Spiritual Essence Yoga, with so much to learn and teach, how do you decide what workshops to provide?
Dana: I base my workshops on what my students say they need. I love to talk to my students and see how their practice is coming along and what is going on in their lives.
Goddess Mena Love: How important is it to change your diet while living a more spiritual life?
Dana: Changing my diet from a mostly processed to clean eating really changed my spiritual health. Eating healthy allows me to be more at ease and helps to increase my energy.
Goddess Mena Love: What’s your favorite song/movie? What kind of music are you listening to right now?
Dana: My favorite movie is actually the Color Purple. The story of struggle, perseverance and forgiveness is powerful to me. Fela Kuti is on heavy rotation on my iPod. The songs sing to my soul deeply.
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