I was blessed to be born into a family that was already introduced to yoga as it came to the west. My father took a yoga teacher training with Swami Sachidananda ( Guru of Integral Yoga) and was involved with Siddha Yoga. He took us to meet Swami Muktananda for ‘spiritual awakening’ when I was a young.
My mother and father became full vegetarian after learning its health and non-violence benefits from the Gurus. They ate no meat, poultry, or fish by the time I was born, so I was also raised vegetarian and I have never tasted meat or fish in my life. All this planted the seeds for a lifelong journey of teaching and practicing yoga.
As far as hatha yoga (the yoga of postures) goes, I saw my father doing shoulder stand in his meditation room as I grew up, but didn’t start myself until I needed it, at age 17.
In high school I had neck pain (from working out in a gym and waitressing). My chiropractor suggested yoga, a VHS tape by Lilias Folan in fact. I tried a 30 min class via VHS and by day two of it all my neck pain was gone. No MRI needed, and I was hooked. The feeling of deep peace and relaxation I felt at the end was like nothing I had experienced before. I did that video daily through my senior year in high school and as a freshman in college.
As I entered college I started meditating per my fathers suggestions and learned the Sivananda hatha yoga sequence from “Sivananda Companion to Yoga”. Soon after I took my first hatha yoga class in NYC at the Sivananda Yoga Center. I practiced that sequence almost daily for 1-2 yrs. As a teenager it was the practice of postures that I liked best, challenging myself with the more advanced ones. The practice of yoga postures helped me become more flexible and balanced. And the practice of breathing exercises helped me through anxiety attacks at certain phases of college and gave me a tool for stress reduction. And both of these combined helped open me up to deeper spiritual realms and strengthened my connection with the vast and deep universe. I felt such amazing shifts on every level that I wanted to dive deeper in my own practice. So I took the Sivananda teacher training, living for a month at the yoga ashram in Canada. The experience was challenging and ‘different’ for a 20 yr old, but it was life changing too. It planted further seeds for my lifelong practice and eventual teaching of yoga. I saw yoga as something that put you on a spiritual path, gave you discipline, and was a tool for wellness and balance of body and mind. I felt that I had to share this amazing gift with others. Soon after I returned to my college dorm, I started teaching yoga to my friends and conducted relaxation workshops for my dorm mates. I watched with fascination how yoga helped others as it did me, and I was hooked. Ever since the learning and sharing continues.
Stacie Dooreck is now based in Miami, teaching and sharing yoga with others: www.sunlightyoga.com
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