Raised by surfer parents in Hermosa Beach, California, Shiva Rea was a hardcore athlete as a kid (she played shortstop and point guard!) She soon fell in love with dance and ended up traveling to Europe and Africa as a teenager. Shiva made her way back to California and studied dance anthropology at UCLA -- and while all this was happening, she began a yoga practice. Now Shiva Rea is one of the most highly respected teachers in yoga.
Shiva talks to us about what she loves about yoga, the Chakras, and some of her favorite things.
MBG: What do you love about yoga?
SR: What I love about yoga is that it permeates all of life. It teaches awareness and connection – it’s about developing relationships, both internally and externally. So it’s really a practice that serves our own inner well-being as well as the quality of relationships we cultivate with our family, our friends, and anyone we meet.
What do you find challenging about your practice?
Keeping a traditional daily asana practice as a western householder always has its obstacles -- maybe of time, or of space. These challenges offer new creative opportunities to weave shorter practices throughout the day, or to bring the essence of your yoga practice into all areas of life -- into preparing meals, connecting with our families, and all aspects of householder living.
Yoga and surfing -- how are both practices similar?
Both yoga and surfing are incredible ways to experience the power of life moving through you. In yoga, you're tuning into the rhythm or the wave of the breath. When surfing, you're experiencing that pulse all around you with the movement of the water and the churning of the waves. They are both practices in staying present in what you're doing and of finding your balance in movement.
Any advice for someone just beginning a practice?
Start where you are: Don't limit your experience with the idea that you need to meet some external goal. Let the internal and external training and churning and transformation happen authentically and in their own time.
Show up: Stay present in your breath and be compassionate with yourself as you discover and play with your evolutionary edge.
Be consistent: Establishing a practice is about finding a rhythm. Try practicing at different times of the day until you find the time where the rhythm of your daily energy naturally supports a steady practice.
Yoga and the Chakra system. Why is it important to understand our Chakras?
A steady practice of yoga attunes you to your body's energy and understanding the changes in that energy. The Chakra system is a way to understand our internal energy as it relates to different aspects of our life. Cultivating awareness at these energetic centers along the spine allows us to understand our own relationship to ourselves and to the world around us. We can learn to live from a place of true authenticity rather than constantly seeking an external filler for what already resides within us -- creativity, power, love, wisdom.
Do you have a favorite book? What's the last great book you read?
Favorite book: Yoga Spandakarika -- translation by Daniel Odier
Last great book: The Shamanic Way of the Bee by Simon Buxton.
"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." -- Albert Einstein
What's next for you/what are you working on?
Yoga Energy Activism - a grassroots energy conservation project in the yoga community, which has the potential to reach beyond that community to really inspire people to be more conscious of their energy use. One way we're bringing people together is making collective efforts on specific days of the month and the year, synced with the new moon, full moon, solstices, equinoxes and holidays. People can make a personal commitment, come together with family, friends, and yoga community for Energy Fast-Feasts and activate the power of our inner and outer energy renewal towards a sustainable future for all. Sign up to commit to Energy Fast-Feasts on yogaenergyactivism.com.
For more on Shiva:
Shiva's latest DVDs at AcaciaLifestyle.com
To learn more about yoga, check out our video course The Complete Guide To Yoga.