Yoga Service Interview Series | Omega

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Yoga Service Interview Series

In the Yoga Service Interview Series, Rob Schware, cofounder and director of the Give Back Yoga Foundation, talks with inspiring yoga teachers about the concerns, approaches, challenges, and joy of the practice and service of yoga.

Tommy Rosen

Rob: What originally motivated you to do this work, and what continues to motivate you? How, if at all, has that motivation changed over time?

Tommy: I'm motivated from my direct experience of addiction and recovery. But what continues to motivate me is that I despise what addiction does to people in both subtle and gross ways. Addiction will dismantle a person's life. It's relentless, and unless a person is gifted with "surrender," which means having the willingness as well as a path of recovery and available tools, it's unlikely they will live to...

Chelsea Roff

Rob: How did you find yoga?

Chelsea: I wish I could say I went because I wanted to reconnect with my body, learn to meditate, develop a spiritual practice, or something like that. But honestly, I wanted nothing of the sort. I thought yoga sounded fluffy, esoteric, airy-fairy, and way too soft for my tastes. The only reason I went was that it was the only form of exercise my treatment team approved of, and I felt insanely uncomfortable in the new body I was growing into.

The short story is that yoga brought me to a place in my...

Tari Prinster

Rob: What emotionally motivates you to give back the gift of yoga?

Tari: In 2000, I was diagnosed with cancer. It literally took my breath away. I was caught off guard by how it made me feel like an invalid. It stole control away from my life. How could I go from being healthy to being sick, weak, and powerless? And this was not the most surprising part of it. Then came the treatments, which weakened my health, strength, and happiness more than the cancer. Everyone said, "Go home and take it easy," but I needed help to stay strong. At the...

Jill Satterfield

Rob: What emotionally motivates you to give back the gift of yoga?

Jill: Sharing the boundless gifts of yoga and meditation not only pays respect to the generosity of those who have diligently practiced and cared enough to teach others, but is also a valuable way of life, through which we can help others help themselves.

Giving back is an organic and natural development of practice. As compassion blossoms, so does action. The action aspect of compassion is what compels many of us to assess where and how we might help others and make a...

Jasmine Chehrazi

Rob: What emotionally motivates you to give back the gift of yoga? What are some standout moments in your teaching?

Jasmine: The emotional connection is partly a heartfelt duty to share the practices that are helpful to me, in case they're helpful to others. But I don't feel like I'm giving back—I'm being given to. I'm so fortunate to share yoga with so many people who helped guide me to a deeper sense of self and the world around me, deconstructing every stereotype or assumption of others' "other-ness."

The emotional connection for...

Nikki Myers

Rob: What emotionally connects you to give back the gift of yoga?

Nikki: The work that I do today is called Y12SR, which stands for Yoga of 12-Step Recovery. Y12SR was born out of my personal experiences with addiction relapse and recovery. Through treatment for a substance addiction in 1987, I was introduced to the 12-step program. It absolutely saved my life. In the course of the next eight years through recovery, I returned to school, cofounded a business, and coauthored a patent. And then, after eight years in recovery, I relapsed....


Rob: What changes occur during our asana, pranayama, or meditation practice that help us to get off our mats and "give back" to our communities the benefits we've received through the practice of yoga?

Beryl: All yoga practices are about learning to pay attention. It doesn't matter if you chant, do asana, breathe, meditate, study, or scrub floors. The training is the same: learn to pay attention. As we get stronger at focusing our attention, we become more conscious...