My students often ask me what brought me to the path of yoga. I feel like they’re always awaiting an inspiring story about how I overcame trauma or some great cataclysmic event that brought me to this point in my practice 22 years later. I think it’s always a little bit of a let-down when they hear that I was interested in eastern spirituality at the young age of 13 and the rest is history. It’s not much of a story, right? I teach so many people that are working through trauma and I know they’re looking for that connection and to hear me say “I’ve been there. You can do this.”

But I feel the need to be concise and not go on about my story because at the end of the day it’s not about me; it’s about my students. This is the most concise story of how I got started practicing yoga. (I feel the need to be concise when I’m speaking, but writing...well, that’s another story!) I can take time with you and share the bigger picture of my life and what propelled me on my path of yoga and awakening.

So, first, the short of it...

I’ve always been a rebel (I was voted ‘Most Rebellious’ in my senior yearbook, actually). So when I was 13 and my father converted to christianity, I didn’t want to just blindly follow along and go to church. I was too much of a rebel for that. His conversion sparked something in me and led me to become deeply interested in world religion and all that was out there in the big wide world of human history, experience, and spirituality. I was innately drawn to eastern paths, and as the inspired young little sponge that I was, I began studying the teachings of Buddha as well as what insights and practices Hinduism had to offer. I was intrigued by the gods and goddesses (which I now know are beautiful archetypes, expressions of energetics, and manifestations of the spectrum of human experience). I noticed that asana (physical postures) and movements could be involved in spiritual practice as well as meditation. It was right up my alley! At that time, I lived on three acres surrounded by the scrubby Florida woods, and already loved to spend quiet time outside, and was definitely into mindful movement. Yoga was a path that seemed to fit me like a glove.

My mother was supportive and gave me an Iyengar book on asana. (Remember that word from above? I absolutely love the Sanskrit language of yoga... I’ve been studying it in-depth for many years so you’ll be hearing much more of that from me. But I digress!) My mother also gave me a book on meditation for Christmas one year. Oh, how that book inspired me! It included so many beautiful guided meditations. I would read them and then sit in peaceful meditation underneath the Florida oaks that I grew up with.

So that’s the short story.

My father sought refuge in the teachings of Christ and became the catalyst of my mysticism. His search inspired me to explore the mysteries of the universe and “plumb the depths of consciousness,” as Diane Whapio says. The veil really didn’t have much time to thicken with me this time around. Mine was a pretty sweet childhood for the most part, straight into an adolescence of meditation and mushroom trips thinning the veil.

My god, what a privilege!

That story stands out to me because it’s the obvious catalyst that I can point to from tangible memories; however, I also hold a subtler story of witnessing pain, addiction and the destruction of a life. This story was playing under the surface to subconsciously push me to my glorious path of transformation and awakening.

Earlier than my father’s conversion (when I was around 9 years old), my very healthy, vibrant and exuberant mother woke up one morning and couldn’t walk. She went from being a health nut with a balanced diet who exercised every day to being bed ridden with debilitating pain shooting through her body to the point of being nearly crippled. Back then they had no diagnosis. (Doctors actually made up a name just for her case.) Now this was a woman who would sing boisterously and dance around the house without abandon while she painted canvases with the most beautiful scenes you’ve ever seen. I watched my mother go from this experience of loving life to gradually sinking into depression to eventually drowning in alcoholism to numb the physical pain of her condition and the emotional pain of losing her mother years later.

I’ll spare you the gory details of what comes along with having an addict as a parent (many of you have already lived that story), but this experience would shape me to study psychology, holistic medicine, and absolutely obsess and geek out on fine tuning postural alignment and therapeutics in yoga to keep the body healthy, supple and strong. All my students know that all too well!

So why am I sharing the story of my past during this worldwide pandemic? In my humble opinion, you owe it to yourself, your family and the world around you to use this time for self- reflection and healthy changes. (I might be preaching to the choir here), but we owe it to every single elder who loses their ventilator because the doctors have to decide who lives and who dies. We owe it to our elders to stay healthy so we’re not taking more resources. We owe it to all the exhausted medical workers that are on the front lines right now risking their own lives to save others. We owe it to them to stay healthy and out of the hospitals. We owe it to our youth as well. The future generations deserve to inherit a planet that’s in-tact and can continue to support them...and we are their example. They truly are watching our every move right now. We owe it to this earth to make responsible decisions that keep ourselves healthy, vibrant and tenaciously working our best to protect the Grand Being we live on and depend upon.

This takes a whole lot of deep inner work. It takes commitment, and if there’s anything I’m committed to, it’s seeing the transformation in people who wake up and make these changes, who stop living ‘The American Dream’. It’s toxic, unsustainable, and only causes suffering. We’re seeing the suffering unfold now as not only people are sick and dying, but the ‘American Dream’ is dying as well. It has been for a very long time and many folks like me have been preparing for this day our whole lives. My Regenerative Living School is meant to prepare communities for exactly this. I want folks to learn how to be self-sufficient and cooperate with the village, to become less dependent on the system and more autonomous, healthy and free. Now the masses get to experience this self-sufficiency and cooperation on a grand scale and we get to experience the American dream rapidly spiraling to its demise. A grand awakening is taking place. You can either go kicking and screaming every step of the way or you can make the decision now to get creative, move some pieces around in your life, cut the fat and follow your damn heart!  Life is much too short not to fulfill your unique purpose and passion.... and you have a choice. You do.

We all might as well make that choice now, because it won't get any easier from here on out. 

And I believe in you. You can do this! Us humans are so strong. So resilient. 

I could have very easily slipped into my mother’s (and her mother’s) experience. (I didn’t mention this is actually a familial trauma, did I?) I made the choice to end that cycle. I made the decision to take on the discipline of yoga and I still make the decision every single day to stay committed even when I don’t want to. Ultimately, it’s the right path for me. It’s the right thing for my family, my community and the world because it’s my life’s purpose. Oh, and it’s also my physical therapy! It keeps me from spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on doctors, specialists and surgeries. I happen to have my mother’s body and if I didn’t re-commit to my practice every day then I would be debilitated just like my mother was.

Because of the choice I made over 20 years ago I’m not only in the best shape of my life at almost 40, but I’m also able to help others live their best life. I see the ripples every single day. I have the awesome honor of witnessing the radical changes in my students and I see how it touches everyone in their lives. These individual changes truly are changing the world. That might be cliché, but I’m not throwing catchy terms around.... it’s true. I’ve been doing this for much longer than it’s been popular to say so.

We’re confronted with choices right now. I know that’s overwhelming to hear at this moment when you’re struggling to keep your head above water and your heart from breaking in pieces, but it’s such a potent time to stop and listen to what your nervous system needs. I’m here to tell you it needs downtime. When you stop long enough to feel and be an open conduit, you’ll hear the message of your heart song, passion and purpose. You’ll get all the downloads you need from the universe. This isn’t fluffy BS. I promise you.

You’ll be able to weed through what the media is currently throwing at you, what marketing has told you to want and what society says you need. You don’t need any of it. You just need to unplug from it all for a while. If you’ve lost someone close to you and your heart is breaking right now, I feel you. If you’ve lost your weekly paycheck and you’re afraid of what the future holds, I feel you. I truly do. I've been there. Be gentle with yourself and take time to truly grieve, move into the full spectrum of your emotions and process what you’re going through.

Take quiet time every day and you’ll begin to take a deep dive under all the layers of conditioning that you’ve come to believe is you and what you desire. You might find that a lot of it isn’t you at all. Maybe you just have a lot of expectations and illusions that you’ve unknowingly picked up a long the way. 

What do you really want? What nags at you every so often, whispering up to the surface, wondering: “If I could just press the reset button if life I would do______”? Well, your reset button has just been pressed for you. Are you going to take the leap? How can you get creative with your finances? Maybe co-housing is in order. Maybe this is the perfect opportunity to start a new business. Maybe it’s just time to commit to cooking your own nutritious meals every day and starting a meditation practice. Whatever you resolve to commit to during this time, the change is going to be potent. I just know it.

I have lost people so close and dear to me that it broke my heart to the point of crying in my sleep at night. I still wake up sobbing sometimes. I’ve had the experience of not knowing how I’ll feed my kids. It really wasn’t that many years ago that I’ve said to my husband, “Well, we’ll just be eating potatoes and beans and rice for a while.” I say this to you because I’m living proof that we can do anything we put our hearts into. I’ve done it with no funding, just creativity and a whole lotta trust that the universe has my back.

I always say that anything is possible with creativity and resiliency.

​During your forced down time of a worldwide pandemic, how can you support folks
who need support the most, and how can you use creativity and resiliency to build a better you
and a better future? We can’t be resilient and we can’t be of service if we aren’t of healthy body and sound mind. Using this downtime to make personal changes and begin to make your move in a direction of health and resiliency helps the world as a whole and pays homage to those loved ones that have left this dimension. 

Keep you head up and breathe deep, dear one. We will get through this together. I'm here with you and here are just a few of my simple, but profound suggestions on how you can spark some positive changes in your life during this crisis...

Eat more veggies, drink herbal tea everyday, develop a sleep hygiene ritual and exercise daily.

The rest will begin to fall into place like magic. Because it is.... and so are you.
Written by Tara Rawson

More stories

4 new moon rituals on earth day

It’s Earth Day!I couldn’t be more delighted that this day that we dedicate to the consideration and tender care of our big blue planet actually fal...