I am happy to share this interview with all of you. Rachel is an inspiring woman who empowers others through yoga. Rachel shares an amazing story with honesty and love. It’s women like Rachel that make EcoFitYogi what it is today.
What is your personal mantra?
“Be Fearless,” for sure. Anytime I question myself and my capabilities, I have to remind myself that life is only as limited as I perceive it to be.
How did you passion for yoga come about?
In my early twenties I felt like the life that I had grown up knowing was drastically changing. My family was in the midst of divorce and addiction, my friendships were changing in an unfamiliar direction, and I found myself alone in my tiny apartment most of the time either studying or chilling with my cat, Zilla. A dear friend of mine at the time had recommended meditation for stress and anxiety relief and I started practicing on my own. As my practice developed I began to have experiences that I didn’t realize were possible. I became more Aware of everything! I wanted to enhance these experiences and see how far this practice could take me. I didn’t watch television at the time (mainly because I had no internet or cable), yet at some point I gained access and turned on Oprah. Oprah had a panel of spiritual leaders from every faith and philosophy and it couldn’t have been better timing! They were discussing how to deepen awareness through meditation and yoga. Well, I was halfway there! A few days later I found myself rummaging through my Mom’s old workout videos until I came across an Yoga for Beginners DVD by Denise Austin. I tied this video in with my daily meditation classes and, eventually, found Living Yoga Studio (at the time, in Downtown Naperville) that led to my deep passion for yoga.
In 2013 I took the leap of faith to leave my full time sales job and teach yoga full time. Today, I own a traveling yoga studio called The Yogi Within that brings yoga, meditation and reiki into the comfort of my student’s homes and offices. I always dreamed of working with others one-on-one to act as a vessel for them to discover their own immense capabilities. In addition to my traveling studio, I also manage workshops and teach group classes at Abhyaasa Yoga Studio and partner with tribe-mates to lead workshops and retreats.
What advice do you have for women who want to have a career based on their passion?
Be. Freakin’ Fearless!! Seriously, gals, we are capable of SO much! My advice to women is to recognize that our innate ability is to create, bring into life, and grow. Therefore, aren’t we innately capable of accomplishing anything? Be fearless, know what you desire, and never EVER question your capabilities. You can do anything when you are fearless, trust and have faith!
How do crystals play a role in your life?
My altar wouldn’t be complete without them! I carry or wear them based on their properties and what I (or a student) needs that day. However, my honest belief is that crystals are a tool to remind us of the properties and capabilities we already have within us. Crystals are my reminder to access that which is already within me, but isn’t easily rising to the surface. Having the crystal as a tool assists in me releasing my ego state of “I need” so that I can remember what “I have and I’m bringing forth.”
When you are stressed or depressed, what do you do to create balance?
Hands down, journal. Of course, I will meditate and do yoga – but I admit that I can’t solve 100% of my stressors that way. Sometimes, even when I think I have solved an issue through silence and reflection, little aspects of it will creep up in the future. However, journaling allows me to fully “brain dump” all the shiznit that I need to get out of my head. I can literally write my way through what I am feeling and why and, always, my Higher Self will come through with a solution. I then follow it up with written affirmations and prayer. It works 100% of the time. My journal is my 2nd best friend, without a doubt. The 1st being my Higher Self and connection to the Divine.
What does your mediation practice look like? What do you do create a meditative state of mind?
Oddly enough, I’m a middy meditator. Folks always think I’m crazy when I say that – we are always told morning or evening are the best times. However, I am by far the most centered in the middle of the day. By midday I am usually home, having taught in the morning and getting ready to head somewhere that afternoon. I feel accomplished and, with that, my mind can quiet easily. I have a big comfy chair both downstairs and upstairs that are designated for my meditations and I will sit quietly. I always start with an intention, then a mantra to quiet my mind. Once centered I invite in any imagery that is necessary for healing, and then I just… let go. Some days my meditations are only 5 minutes, and other times they go on and on and on until lord knows when. I admit, I never really time the start and stop time. I just go with it! To keep me fresh and inspired, I also attend weekly meditation classes – this is a great reminder for me that I am ALWAYS a student, first and foremost.
What goddess do you connect with? Why?
Quan Yin, no doubt. She has consistently been showing up in my life over the past couple of years through incredible symbolism. I remember my first wild interaction with her during a shamanic drumming journey. The guide led us through a visualization in which we were walking through a forest towards a tree. As I walked toward the tree, I noticed that my hand was resting on a giant pan
da bear who was walking alongside me. Now, this was a bit of a shocker as I never really had much thought in regards to the species, but I went along with it. We entered through a door and climbed a staircase to the top of the tree, and stepped out. In my vision I had stepped onto a cliff that overlooked a mountainous terrain. I built a fire and through this process, began to experience a transformation. All the sudden I was covered in fur and of Asian descent. We were guided back down the tree, out the door, and back to the space we originated from. As I returned, I noticed I was cloaked in the Panda’s fur.
After the journey I stayed to help the guide put the altar away. I noticed a figurine that was placed in front of where I had been seated and asked who it was. The guide said it was Quan Yin. When I came home I did some research and it turned out that Quan Yin was affiliated with the spirit animal of the panda. Since then there seems to always be an ongoing presence of her in both my waking life and dreams.
Looking back on this year, what was the greatest lesson you learned?
To surrender to the experience of Life and know that not everything is mine to carry. In the past I had a tendency to be a major control freak and live up to this “image of professionality” that I thought I needed to have. HA! What a joke! I now realize that the Universe has a much better plan for me and, like any good child, I just listen and let her guide me.
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