This is the story behind Heart Talk Yoga® — my story.
In the early 2000s, I went back to school after a few years’ break. I was attending a Master’s program in Psychological Counseling at Columbia University’s Teachers College. I was a ball of anxiety. I could not concentrate on a piece of text long enough to take in the message of a paragraph. Every time I would attempt to speak up in class, I would feel my heart in my throat, my pulse going 1000 bpm, palms sweaty, ready to faint, having an out of body experience.
Therapy was useless.
I mean, it gave me insight into why I might be feeling this way and some cognitive strategies to cope. Neither insight nor strategies affected my condition. The mind did not override the matter, which was my body in a full-blown panic state. So, there I was, with insight in my head and out of my body.
One day, at a gym, I got curious about a yoga class going on behind the glass wall of a studio. It looked so cool and serene. I decided to give it a try.
Once on a yoga mat, I quickly discovered that the practice did not feel as serene as it looked. Having to hold a pose for 5 breaths sent my mind racing 10000 mph and created such anxiety that I had to leave the class.
The next day, I went back. I can’t tell you for sure if it was my ego that refused to exit defeated, or it was the sweet spell of the practice that had lured me back? I lasted through a few more poses, and then I left. And then I did it again.
Finally, I got through an entire class and landed in the final relaxation pose, Savasana. What I experienced then was like nothing I had ever felt before. Complete bliss and serenity. A sense of wellbeing and peace. It was amazing. I was hooked.
As I continued my yoga practice, my attention span was stretching along with my muscles. My concentration and memory improved. Studying became easier. Anxiety was dissolving.
As a mental health professional in training, I became intensely curious about merging the amazing benefits of yoga practice with talk therapy.
I enrolled in a yoga teacher training program at the Integral Yoga Institute in New York City. It was a life-changing 9-month program. Just enough time to give birth to a new me 🙂
I voraciously sought out learning opportunities with the pioneers in the area of mind-body-spirit holistic healing modalities. I had the good fortune to study with such luminaries as Jon Kabat-Zinn and Saki Santorelli (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction), Zindel Segal (Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy), Amy Weintraub (Yoga for Depression and Anxiety), and Anodea Judith (Chakra Psychology), among others. Eventually, I conducted my own original research on transformation using integrative mind-body-spirit methods and received my PhD from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology (an area of Psychology that studies further reaches of the human nature).
These, my friends, are the roots of Heart Talk Yoga®. My journey took me deep into my own wounds where I found my healing and purpose. This seems to be the intelligent design of our lives: go deep into your wounds to discover your mission.
As Rumi wrote,
“Don’t turn your head.
Keep looking at the bandaged place.
the Light enters you.”
Now, I want to know more about your wounds so I can support you in healing them and bringing to Light your Mission in life. Share your most pressing concerns with me ANONYMOUSLY and I’ll address them in my upcoming blogs and trainings:
My True Selfie Secrets
I grew up in Russia.
Although the US has been my home for close to 20 years now and I twice survived graduate school here, I typically Google a couple of words a day, to make sure I get them right. Whoever tries to make sense of my Google search history for marketing, good luck!
I love words.
I often ask, “Is this a word?” and “Does it mean what I think it means?”
I speak with an accent, and when I say “worrier” or “warrior,” I challenge you to guess which one that was.
The usual recipients of this “verbal abuse” are my dearest and nearest husband Tom and daughter Alisa. He’s the most patient man I know, which makes him a great yogi—I can’t hold a handle…(what’s that? it’s a “candle,” not a “handle”?) … I can’t hold a candle to him. Our daughter is a Zen master and my greatest teacher.
Here’s one of her Zen Jedi mind tricks (when she was 4).
I told her to stop jumping on the bed and stepped out of the room. In a few moments I hear the sounds of her jumping on the bed.
I: “Alisa, why do I hear the sounds of you jumping on the bed again?”
She: “Because the door is open!”
I (after a silent chuckle): “I don’t want to hear you jumping on the bed anymore.”
She: “Then close the door!”
This, in a nutshell, is what I teach.
Accepting the full responsibility for your experience and unleashing the great Zen Jedi power that comes with it. The power to transform common unhappiness into uncommon happiness.
I hope you join me on this journey!