Meet the very inspiring, Olivia Bryant. Yoga teacher, life coach and creator of the yoga, life, relationships, sex and conscious living blog, 'Courageous Yogi'.
I asked her a few questions about life and Yoga.
What made you attend your first Yoga class?
I think i was always a bit of an explorer. I got this from my dad who was an antarctic explorer. I'm more of a pychonaut. I was reading self help books at a young age though i have no idea why. I wanted answers to life's big questions like 'what am I supposed to do with my life?' and 'how can I get over that ex-boyfriend?' (I was 17). I think my questions got bigger the more I explored yoga (thankfully).
Can you describe how you felt in your first class (if you can remember)?
Er...bored! I really didn't understand why I was following a handout of poses and breathing. There wasn't an explanation and everyone seemed VERY serious. It took me a while to step into another yoga studio. The next time I did I was in New York. My friend Camilla Maling called me up and said 'I think we've found a teacher'. This was the now famous Sadie Nardini. Her classes made sense to me. She taught about how to deal with life when it suuuucks, how to perceive life from a higher pov and as a byproduct I began to cultivate a much deeper connection to myself. She started to answer the really big questions in a very practical way.
What advice can you give someone if they want to take their Yoga practice to a deeper level off the Yoga mat?
So many things! Self observation is one of the main things I practice off the mat.
I use self observation to bring unconscious behaviours to the surface so over time I stop repeating the same dumb mistakes! For example, self sabotage is a biggie that I would say everyone deals with ( eg procrastination, fear based action or inaction, negative thinking). So for example you feel scared and tend to avoid asking for the money you feel you deserve....next time you'll pay more attention and notice fear. What are you going to do with that energy? How will you transform it into fuel for personal growth? What is fear teaching you?
Owning up to what we do out loud is a great tool. But it means we have to get good at being vulnerable. The shadow side of everything we most want is great vulnerability. In order to contribute in a big way to life, vulnerability is part and parcel. So if we engage with negative emotion rather than rise above it, we can see it all as a gift and a teacher.
Is tantra all about sex?
No! There are three branches of tantra (and within them many schools). One branch has a more sexual focus and ultimately it's still about spirituality. The philosophical side of Tantra is magical and so relevant for the modern yogi. It's less about detachment, transcendence or simplifying and more about engagement and participation in life. It teaches that everything is the divine expressing itself including you! Even your cup of coffee or glass of wine. It teaches that your connection to universal consciousness is found through your body, through nature and through the whole experience of embodiment including the human traits that don't make us proud. We can know the divine by knowing ourselves.
Totally unrelated random question - what's one of your guilty pleasures you simply cannot give up?
hehe. Well I would say I love wine! But as a Tantrika - I don't feel guilt, I'm just interested in my attachment as it ebbs and flows. When I do feel guilt around pleasure, I wonder about what part of myself I'm not allowing or rejecting instead of just owning up. Gosh, it's all so interesting! Let me also clarify Tantra is not about over indulging, I'm a real moderate by nature. I'm a pleasure seeker. I think if we all leaned into pleasure more often the world would be a more connected place!
You can check out Olivia's blog here: http://www.courageousyogi.com/
Olivia will be presenting a workshop 'Living Yoga in the real world' at Breathe Wellbeing next Saturday 6th July. Check out the flyer below. http://breathewellbeing.com.au/
You can also check Olivia's 'Pleasure Ed' workshop this Sunday at The Yoga Lab http://theyogalab.com.au/
The Yoga Social Team