Michael Harris – Falling Down Getting UP – Overcoming Your Obstacles

Join in listening to this wonderful conversation I had with Michael Harris.

Michael has been telling “sit on the edge of your seat stories” ever since his first show and tell in grade school – some stories will make you laugh – others are quite tragic that could bring any listener to tears. He shares in his #1 book, Falling Down Getting UP,  how starting in 1987, yoga helped heal him from several near fatal predicaments. 

Today, Michael is a popular yoga teacher with three certifications from Erich Schiffman, Integral Yoga and Bikram Yoga. In addition, he is an author, lifelong entrepreneur and co-founder of Endless Stages – a company dedicated to help motivated yogis, healers and entrepreneurs get their personal voice, message and story out to the world.

You can download a free copy of his powerful book at www.michaelbharris.com/book or purchase at https://bookshop.org/shop/michaelharris.com

You can listen to the full episode for free here.

Todd McLaughlin

We’ll just so the listeners are aware you you gave me the best surprise ever because we had scheduled to do this podcast quite a while ago. I know we worked really hard at finding a date that we could both organize to make this work. Just prior to me hitting the record button, Michael, you reminded me that you and I had met in California, at Bikram Yoga Teacher Training. You were one of the teachers that were helping teach some of the classes at the training. I didn’t even know that was you when we were scheduling this appointment. So now the fact that I’m getting a chance to speak with you I am so exited. I remember you very clearly. I loved your classes! I felt like you were a grounding force in a really wild world. You know? I’m just now getting a chance to pick your brain and find out where you are at with Bikram yoga, and what you’re doing now. So on that note, can you just start telling me and filling me in on your journey? And I guess I’ll be a little more specific. Let’s go way, way back. Can you tell me the first time you start practicing yoga? What was the first yoga class you ever got a chance to take?

Michael Harris

Absolutely. You know, the first time that I took a yoga class was 1988. Yes. Or excuse me,1987. I had vascular surgery in November of 1986. I had blocked arteries. The doctors at the time suggested that they may need to amputate my leg. I was pretty blunt to them and saying that that wasn’t gonna happen. I ended up at a place called Pritikin Longevity Center, which is in Santa Monica, but no longer there. By the ocean right down on the boardwalk pretty close to the Santa Monica Pier. When I first got there, I was walking on a cane I could walk literally about 10 feet. Cane in one hand, my other hand on the wall. Well, I could barely walk. To make a long story much shorter. The doctors that I was seeing in Portland for my vascular disease suggested that when it hurt that I should not move my body. And not to walk. The doctor at the Pritikin Center said when it hurts, keep walking. In hindsight, it was a huge spiritual wake up call to me. It was one of a number of times that I can identify over the years. But that particular one, he says get up and walk and walk through the pain. He says I just want you to go out there on the boardwalk and start walking. Initially, I was pretty scared to. I was in serious pain and was nervous because the movement seem to make me feel more pain. Yet he said, “Yes, it’s gonna hurt.” And he says, “Just keep doing what you can do.” Well, here I am. You know, 1987 that was actually March of 1987. There was a lot of women on rollerblades. And here I am. I’m a sick man. And I don’t want to be a sick man. I want to feel strong and healthy. And I had already had a lot of self esteem issues and everything else that I’ve struggled with. And so I wanted to walk tall. So within two weeks, I went from walking 10 feet to two miles, unassisted without my cane without a wall. 

TM

Wow. 

MH

And the sheer process of moving my body. Of walking, going one foot in front of the next, helped to build new blood vessels in my leg and collateral blood vessels. 

TM

Wow. 

MH

So as those new vessels were being built, in addition to that, the popliteal arteries where the primary blockages were began to heal as well. So not only was I getting the collaterals, I was also getting the popliteal artery to begin to heal. So answering your question about the first yoga class, the first yoga class was at the Pritikin Longevity Center. Now, granted, it wasn’t a very vigorous class. It was mostly for people in rehabilitation of some sort. It was really known more for weight loss. Although I wasn’t heavy, I’ve never really been heavy in my life. So losing weight wasn’t my challenge, they actually wanted me to gain weight. But there’s also a plant based facility at Pritikin Longevity Center. So they said I can eat as much food as I want. So I was walking, I started doing some yoga classes in the basement, and I was eating all the plant based food I could possibly eat.

TM

Nice. 

MH

Yeah, it was good. 

TM

Well, that’s incredible! That’s a really great story in terms of endurance and overcoming, like you said, that fear of working into the pain. Having that question like, “what do you mean…..walk more?” That whole transformation process of pushing through that. I’m curious, from taking yoga in the Pritikin environment there. What was your next step in relation to seeking other types of yoga? What was the evolution? How did it evolve from here?

MH

Yep. Well, I was living in Portland at the time, so I was just down there for the Pritikin Center. And when I went back to Portland, I started going to a yoga class at the gym. Because I was doing the gym, I was doing the treadmill. When I first started doing the treadmill, actually, was at Pritikin Center. I was going point three miles an hour.  As slow as the treadmill would move. That’s how slow I was going. And I was struggling. But I did more at the gym. And I was also walking in a park near my house as much as I could, but they had a yoga class there. And I would not call it a gym yoga, you know, however you want to perceive that to be, but it was a wonderful class. And at the end, they did candle gazing and I really liked it. When they would have me do downward dog. I would fall out of it. I couldn’t do much. But it led me to another general hatha yoga class. Diane Wilson was quite important for years. And I started taking her class. And I’m kind of jumping here ahead a little bit. I started doing Ashtanga Yoga. I saw a flyer for Yoga for Skiers. And I hadn’t skied for years because my condition and I want to get back to skiing. Somebody named Beryl Bender Birch was in Portland teaching and I thought, well, I’m gonna go to this thing and see if I can start skiing again. Well, I had what some people would call perhaps a kundalini experience and feeling the sensations in my body. Like tears flowing and just like opening up. Through this process and diving into Ashtanga I did a lot of stuff with David Swenson and a guy named Clifford. A lot of people don’t know who he was. He was one of the really early people. Nancy Gilgoff. I got a lot of time with her over in Maui. 

TM

Isn’t her place amazing? When you gotta look for the tomato sign when you’re driving up country on Maui? Everyone tells you like look for the tomato farm sign and then pull it you’ll find the house of Zen right? Is it called House of yoga and Zen or house of Zen? What a great little setup. That little wooden barn kind of yoga studio structure on that farm. Wow, studying with Nancy is like a real treat. That’s amazing. That’s cool, Michael.  I love David Swenson. I’ve never had a chance to practice with Beryl Bender Birch, but she’s a bit of a legend in the Ashtanga vinyasa world as well.

MH

Yeah. And a little bit more in synchronicity with Nancy. I don’t like staying in motels or hotels. So I was looking for a place to stay in apartment, a house something to rent. I rented this place. And you know, this guy named Gary and I called him and I said, Oh, do you know that Nancy? He says, oh, yeah, and that was about it. Didn’t say much. Well, when I got there, and it was rented apartment in his basement, do you know who Gary Kraftsow is?

TM

Oh yeah, he’s one of the famous teachers of Viniyoga. 

MH

One of his primary teachers was really close to Desikachar. I had no idea when I rented this place who it was. So here I am staying at Gary Kraftsow’s house. Also studying with Nancy. Wow. It was just like, you know, I mean, totally immersed.

TM

That’s right. When I lived on Maui for a year, and I remember seeing that he had a center in the upcountry area when I started looking into yoga. I never went but I remember his place was associated with a bodywork studio that always looked so interesting to me. That’s really cool. I can imagine that. Yeah, you’re staying with Gary, you’re getting your butt kicked with Nancy and in a good way. So at this point, I’m thinking you’ve made a pretty radical transformation from holding on to the wall walking 10 steps, if you’re hanging out with these yoga legends? Were you “back to normal” at this point? Where are you at at this phase?

You can listen to the full episode for free here: https://nativeyogacenter.buzzsprout.com

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Nona Mileva – Tapping into the Yoga Well

Check out this discussion I had with Nona Mileva. Visit Nona at her website wellyoga.net. Nona is a Certified Life, Wellness and Health Coach, Yoga Teacher and Educator, based in Jupiter, FL, United States. She works with a wide range of clients, from variuos backgrounds and age, via in person,  phone or Zoom sessions. Her coaching is holistic. It entails all aspects of the client’s life – emotional, psychological, physical, spiritual , as it authentically reflects the most important human needs. She focuses on the therapeutic modalities and applications of Yoga as a practice and discipline that enhances health and wellbeing. 

You can listen to the full podcast episode for free here.

Todd McLaughlin 

I’m so happy to have Nona Mileva here visiting in Native Yoga Center. We get to do an in person podcast! Nona, How are you doing today?

Nona Mileva

I am good. Thank you so much for having me. Good to see you.

TM

Same as well, I got to meet you, Nona, because you came into Native Yoga Center very enthusiastically inquiring about yoga teacher training a few years ago. You completed our 300 hour Yoga Teacher Training which brought you into like the RYT 500. realm. And you also are involved in teaching in Stuart at a place called District 108, in Stuart, Florida. Also at the Powerhouse Gym in Stuart. You also teach therapeutic yoga in some of the local retirement communities. You have recently completed getting your PhD in health psychology. And you’re currently working toward Yoga Therapy Certification. Which you said will be completed in December 2022. So you’ve been very busy…. And that’s something that I really admire about you is you love to study. You put a lot of time and energy into reading and studying. And you’re you’ve expressed a lot of interest and enthusiasm for the history and the philosophy of yoga. And so that’s why I’m really excited to have you here today. Because I can just pick your brain a bit and see what kind of like “Top hits” have made it onto your playlist for yoga philosophy and yoga history. And so on that note, what is something that you have read about and or practiced or studied recently that’s caught your attention that you’re excited about?

NM

How I love how you you’re beginning this conversation? Thank you for the intro firstly. Yes, I have been busy. And this is just, what can I say, my mode of functioning, learning, being always curious about things and topics. So my latest educational conquests, so to speak, or interests have been since COVID. Which, as you know, was to some extent, a traumatic experience. Then from a different perspective, it opened new doors. It made us more creative, looking for opportunities to keep doing what we love doing, which for us is yoga, obviously if we are talking about it. I have begun studying and doing a yoga philosophy course, of course is online, with Professor Edwin Bryant. He’s one of the most renowned names among Hindu researchers and philosophers and translators in the field. He’s at Rutgers University in…. I think it’s New Jersey or New York. So what he started doing is to record all his lectures, and then putting them up online for free. 

TM

Wow!

NM

Absolutely amazing, isn’t it? 

TM

Yeah. 

NM

Yeah. It always amazes me when people share their knowledge with such immense generosity. So that got me into the groove of daily or twice a week. Sit down through those lectures or just doing my thing and listening to them. And pretty much it’s all the six directionals, the schools of various philosophical discourse and the man is a very knowledgeable teacher and scholar. He knows a lot about everything. His focus is bhakti. He is initiated in this tradition. 

TM

So can you explain bhakti to us?

NM

In the discourse of yoga, bhakti yoga is the yoga of devotion. It’s the kind of yoga that is being practiced as a devotional yoga. Practitioners direct their attention, their energy towards a benevolent worship of a deity. In this case, usually Krishna is the the subject of the affection. There is lots of mantra and chanting. There’s lots of dancing and singing, praising, praising the Bhagavan. So think of the Bhagavata Purana, those ancient texts. All the Krishna stories, by the way, they’re amazing, amazingly entertaining and interesting stories. If anyone really wants to learn more about them, just go read them. They’re with tremendous sense of humor also created so many years ago. Yeah, so we would sit through those, he would just open the texts, and to about 300 people there, either live or from the recorded lectures will be listening and then following the stories, he would stop you with comments. And this, this goes for every subject. Whether you want to learn about like Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, whether you want to learn about Vedanta sutras, or Nyaya but more the stories of Krishna. So that’s what I kept doing for about a year, then he started doing live svadhyaya sessions every Friday. 

TM

I’m imagining that there might be someone listening that doesn’t know any of the Sanskrit terms. So that’s why it might just stop you every now and again and let you define some of the words. So if someone’s listening, that’s like a brand new listener slash just coming into the yoga fold. There’s a lot of Sanskrit terms that once you start to learn them, it gets easier and easier. Once you learn one, you learn another and before you know it, you can listen to these really in depth conversations about the yoga history and philosophy and know exactly what’s going on. But in the beginning, it’s really common to feel like a “fish out of water,” or have no idea what they’re talking about. So on that note, can you define what svadhyaya is to keep everyone up to speed?

NM

Yes and once you get to actually work with those terms, it becomes kind of a second nature. And you don’t think that yes, there are people who still haven’t gotten there. So apologies again. So the idea is the concept of studying. So it could be defined as a studying about the self. That’s the obtaining of self knowledge through a variety of practices. But it is it does become by itself a practice. It could be even a spiritual practice. So you get to define it as for example, spending time with the sacred texts. So you sit down and you study, you read the text from the Upanishads, or from the later Puranas, or you open Patanjali yoga sutras and this is your weekend. Yeah, this is your weekend. What are you doing? I’m doing yoga psychology, how I’m just staring at Patanjali, sutra number, whatever. Trying to figure it out to study is that concept of the bhaktis. For the wisdom, another, I’m drawing attention. I’m throwing another Sanskrit word in Sangha, which means pretty much your social group. Yeah. What is your community? Yeah, let’s hang together with like minded people. Yep. And do our thing. What is our thing? We’re reading the scriptures. Yeah. Or in my case, I’m listening to someone much more knowledgeable. And they read it. And he’s reading the scriptures. He’s commenting on them, we get to ask questions.

TM

Was that the difference? So actually, let me back up a little bit. Is that something that anyone listening can go to Edwin Bryant’s

Website. And by the way, at the end of the podcast, I will be happy to provide you with all the resources and links and the names that I’m throwing in here. So you can post it through your audience and I’ll be so happy for people actually go there and look up at this stuff because there’s so much available in the way of information out there that we just are not aware of. Yeah. So EdwinBryant.org, very cool website. It’s connected to the Rutgers University. As a matter of fact, the last study I did with him was on the Bhagavad Gita. I think it was… I forgot which ones, my memories also don’ serve me always. But starting four weeks from now, we are he’s doing a six week or an eight week course on Bhagavata Purana. He loves the back story. So that kind of yoga, devotional yoga, the yoga of love there. There’s a lot of kindness and love and compassion about this concept. I just was even listening to someone who has devoted pretty much his life and passion to that. Yeah, I think it’s amazing.

TM

It is amazing. 

NM

It obviously takes cultivating it over a long period of time. Little by little before you know it, you understand these stories a little better. It makes sense. And that’s cool. 

TM

So it sounds like the interaction process with that particular training method you enjoyed. Was that the first way you started listening to his philosophy teachings not interactive? And then that the svadhyaya ones was where you could maybe type in questions into the chat box. Is that how that was going down?

NM

Yeah. So you can do either, you can buy the pre recorded lectures, the lectures for students. We are a neutral audience, we have no access to the direct communication, we watch the recordings. But because the content is all out there, you can watch it at any time you want to watch it. The Friday sessions are live sessions, but he also records them and then post them online. So if you miss a Friday because you really want to go for that happy hour Friday, then you can watch it or listen to it the next day.

Listen to the full episode with Nona for free on our podcast site here.

Thanks for reading this blog post from this podcast episode. Check out: 👇
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New Student FREE 30 Minute Yoga Meet & Greet ~ Are you new to Native Yoga Center and have questions that you would like us to address? Whether you are coming to In Studio, Livestream or Online Recorded Classes we offer a one time complimentary 30 minute zoom meeting to answer any questions you may have. Schedule a time that is convenient for you. Click Here

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Listen to the podcast here on our Podcast website: Native Yoga Toddcast

Please email special requests and feedback to info@nativeyogacenter.com
Please share this episode with your friends, rate & review and join us next time.

Conversation with Eric Shaw ~ The Sacred Thread of Yoga Philosophy

Ever wonder if there is more to yoga than yoga postures? Join my guest Eric Shaw for a discussion around his new book called Sacred Thread: A Comprehensive Yoga Timeline: 2000 Events that Shaped Yoga History.  Eric’s teachings and passions have been influenced significantly by his teachers, in particular Shandor Remete and Rod Stryker. You can visit Eric on his website at prasanayoga.com and you can purchase a copy of Eric’s new book on Amazon here.

During this conversation we discussed:

  • the history and philosophy of yoga
  • the timeline associated with modern yoga
  • the origins of yoga in relation to the archeological findings at Mohenjo-daro
  • Eric’s experience with Iyengar yoga
  • What yoga was like on the West Coast of USA during its peak
  • Yoga as a global realization vs. a cultural specific identity

and quite a few more topics.

You can listen to the full podcast episode with Eric Shaw on our podcast site here.

Todd McLaughlin

I am so excited to have the opportunity to join in conversation with Eric Shaw today. Please find him on his website, prasanayoga.com. You can click the link in the description to easily access his work. He is the author of a book called BKS Iyengar and the Making of Modern Yoga. And he has also just released a new book called Sacred Thread: A Comprehensive Yoga Timeline: 2000 Events That Shaped Yoga History. 

Eric Shaw

Yeah, yes. 

TM

Thank you, Eric. And I’m so happy to have this chance to speak with you. I love yoga philosophy. And you’ve done a lot study. And on that note, can you fill me and the listener in….have you gotten your doctorate degree yoga studies?

ES

No, I’ve done a lot of a lot of academic work. I started a doctoral program in 2004, finished my studies in 2011 and pretty much got the knowledge base that I desired at that time. I was able to parlay that into practical purposes. It’s kind of like I feel like it’s something I want to do that is like climbing Mount Everest. 

But yeah, I didn’t get it done at that point in my life. I could talk all day about why it didn’t happen. Yet I did get a master’s degree out of it and I got a knowledge base. It was quite useful for me for writing work and lecturing work in the yoga world.

TM

Nice. Well, when you had to write a thesis for your masters, what did you base your thesis on?

ES

I based it on the life of BKS Iyengar. I did a very deep study of him. Partly because his followers were so prominent in the Bay Area where I was working in San Francisco. And because that system, according to my training was so alien to me. I was so confronted by it. Iyengar’s system, as everyone knows who studied it, it’s arguably the most comprehensive yoga system out there. You know, unless you went to some ancient system, perhaps as far as the modern systems go, it’s complexity, it’s philosophy, it’s understanding the body and the way that it’s set up structurally to function. The Iyengar view of function in yoga is very clear and vastly articulated. So the people who teach it, have a pedagogy, a pedagogical style, a teaching style, which is strangely aggressive. That’s to say, all those things were quite confronting to me when I arrived in the Bay Area in 2004. After training in Kripalu Yoga and other forms of yoga, which were much more meditative, and much more I thought holistic based. Pranayama based in spiritual aims. Here I was faced with this very physical culturalist yoga, which some people from that tradition might argue with me as characterizing it that way. But to me, it was so body centric and so awesomeness centric. That I think it’s kind of strange to say in the year 2022, because yoga has become more and more and more body centric. I mean, it’s been a processes happening for hundreds of years. But it seems like it’s only been accelerated. It’s come into the American context. But for me, that was difficult. And part of my working that out, to write this mono focal paper on my anger.

TM

Wow! Let me back up so I can get a timeline of your history of practice. When did you start practicing yoga? What was your first introduction to the yoga world?

ES

It’s kind of an interesting, funny story, given my history. My parents were ministers. And they were very open minded liberal ministers. They come from the west coast. So it’s very much different from the south where I’m living now. Yeah, yeah. Me talking about Christianity in this part of the world. But where I came from, they were liberals, they were, you know, anti war protesters. They were raging leftist. So I did get a political orientation in my Christian experience, but it wasn’t a right wing one, it was a radical left wing. So that was my background. And so there was a certain openness there to intellectuality at all levels. So when I told my parents I was an atheist, they didn’t bat an eye. When I told my parents that I was into Eastern traditions and studying Buddhism and meditation, they didn’t bat an eye, you know. So that became my practice very early on in my early 20s, and very much a life saving practice, because my mind was kind of out of control. And it may still sound that way. But meditation helped me control my life. And I dove right into meditation and have maintained that practice to this very day. 

TM

Got it. 

ES

So like, I did some early investigation in Buddhist traditions. And it wasn’t till the early 90s that I joined Siddha Yoga, which is the Hindu tradition, I actually did that in the midst of a time I was studying Christianity and a Religious Studies degree in many Minneapolis, Minnesota. But that kind of opened the Hindu world to me a little bit. And then when I started practicing Hatha Yoga in 2000, then I started to investigate Hinduism more properly and understand how different it was from the Buddhist tradition. How much richer, how much more embracing of the human experience and all of its aspects and even culture in all of its aspects. And so it was incredibly compelling to me, given my background and it pretty much became a gestalt experience for me, I just dove right into it.

TM

Wow. You made mention of the appreciation for Iyengar tradition and Iyengar’s guru being Krishnamacharya. Did you investigate other practices with any other teachers under that lineage?

ES

Yeah, actually with quite a few. I mean, the Bay Area, as I said, was a hotbed of strong Iyengar teachers. So it was easy to study with strong teachers who not only came to town to teach, but who were residents there. So my chief preceptor was Tony Briggs and he had a relationship to Shandor Remete, who was my primary teacher. A teacher I’d met actually was still in Portland, Oregon and before 2004 started studying with Matt Hewish at the time, who was a primary follower of Shandor. Strange to talk about Shandor in the Iyengar context, because few people even know that he studied with Iyengar. He actually stayed with him for 20 years, extremely long time and he was actually the president of the Iyengar Federation in Australia. But he made a jump to  embrace of martial arts and Bharatanatyam yoga, or rather Indian dance and he integrated into practices that he claimed to have learned at the Chidambaram temple in India into a new form that he called Shadow yoga. He’s continued to evolve his forms and change the names of them, but I learned from him and his teaching was profound and very vinyasa based, very movement based. But he was an Iyengar teacher. And then Tony. Tony had worked with Shandor, or so that was my connection with Tony. But Tony was a classic Iyengar teacher. I mean, he was gonna put you in a pose and hold you there and break it down into all its constituent parts in which muscles are engaged, and released and yada, yada, yada. So that training and another with Ramadan Patel and other big names in the Bay Area helped me understand asana and the alignment perspective, which I feel is, is very, very important. I mean, it’s at so many levels. But then I also worked with Paul Grilley, who was into kind of destroying the whole alignment concept. So I got a lot of a lot of input around yogic philosophy and yoga practice in those years that are invaluable.

TM

Amazing, just to touch upon what you just mentioned, I’ve enjoyed watching Paul Grilley’s work around anatomy and yin yoga, can you explain how Paul’s philosophy shatter that existing idea of alignment that you were studying? Can you tell me what that means? Or what that sounds like?

ES

Yeah, yeah. And it’s a good story. I think for anybody who wants to be a serious practitioner of yoga, I think it’s important to understand alignment principles, particularly from the Iyengar perspective, but it’s also very important to understand their limits. And Paul has done the spade work, he’s done the deep work in defining those limits. And I’m just shocked that so few people know his work, because it’s utterly revolutionary. Even if you don’t have Iyengar as a conversation partner for it. So Paul Grilley, you know, he’s ostensibly known for his work in yin yoga. And that’s how I first understood him and met him in yoga was my actually my teaching practice early on, because he was one of the first major teachers I met in Portland, Oregon. I wrote a small profile for him for a local yoga magazine, and we got to be friends. Then he was in an early video company making videos on yoga, you know, and when DVD still existed. A group of people there in San Francisco, who I met and hung out with, and then Paul was a part of that group, and he came down to do yoga videos there. And so he wrote, when I was there in San Francisco, and he recorded his Yoga Anatomy DVD, in which he distills all of his knowledge around bony limits in the body. So it’s the skeletal structure of the body, which determines which poses you can get and in which you can’t. And that’s, I know, that’s a very black and white statement. But it’s actually quite true that the soft tissue, of course, creates limits that we can push through in the attempt to attain any given Asana. And that’s what Iyengar practices are based on. That there is a limitless potential to achieve anything in yoga. Paul Grilley’s work debunked that theory in a way showing that bone structure does create limitation as to how far we can push into a posture. What he really determined and demonstrated directly in that DVD by comparing different human bodies, that the length of your bones, the orientation of the bones, in a given joint, the way it spirals out of that joint, the way it engages with the next joint in the chain determines whether or not any given poses even available. And that’s for a yoga teacher, who is attempting to guide students of different shapes and sizes into positions, proposes knowledge that is absolutely critical. Particularly if you’ve been trained in Iyengar yoga, because it does not integrate that knowledge. In fact, it’s kind of philosophically opposed to it.

Listen to the full episode with Eric Shaw for free on our podcast site here.

Thanks for reading this blog post from this podcast episode. Check out: 👇
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Native Yoga Toddcast – Episode 55- Romy Toussaint ~ Powerful Beyond Belief

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

yoga, people, feel, classes, romy, teach, teachers, practice, retreat, teaching, chant, studio, peru, super, opportunity, person, home, nice, love, speaking

SPEAKERS

Todd McLaughlin, Romy Toussaint

Todd McLaughlin  

Welcome to Native yoga podcast. So happy you are here. My goal with this channel is to bring inspirational speakers to the mic in the field of yoga, massage bodywork and beyond. Follow us at @Nativeyoga and check us out at Nativeyogacenter.com. All right, let’s begin. Hello, hello, welcome to native yoga podcast. For those of you that are regular listeners, welcome back for those of you that it’s your first time. I’m so happy that you’re here. I am very pleased to introduce to you Romi Toussaint  I looked online, I wanted to go out of my comfort zone, I wanted to find someone who looked inspirational in the field of yoga, I saw a great article on Romi reached out to her and she agreed that she would like to be a guest. And the conversation was amazing. And I’m so happy that you’re here to listen to it. I’m going to put the links in the show notes below. But please check out Romi romyoga.com. So it is spelled romyoga.com. You’ll find her on Instagram with the handle @romyoga. And you’ll also find her on Facebook @romyoga, so everything’s nice and coordinated here. If you want to shoot her an email and send her some love and appreciation after the discussion? I’ll even try to include that in the show notes. It’s romyoga@gmail.com Hopefully she doesn’t mind. Hopefully she won’t get like blasted with a ton of emails. But actually, if you guys write back and say positive stuff, we’d love to get blasted by some information from you guys. All right, um, I think that’s about it. Let me just go ahead and get started here. All right, here we go.  I am so pleased to have Romy Toussaint here today. Romy, how are you doing?

Romy Toussaint  

I am very well. Thank you.

Todd McLaughlin  

I am so excited to have a chance to talk with you. I found you via a really well written article about how dynamic you are and how much inspiration you’ve brought to your yoga community in New Jersey. Can you tell me a little bit about how you first found yoga? Where and how did you get started?

Romy Toussaint  

Oh, I love this. I got started because I’ve always been a workout sort of gym rat person. And I was working out in the gym. It was back in 1992. Oh, yeah. I hate to say that because a lot of people are like when was that I wasn’t even born. I was working out and the trainer said, hey Romy, have you ever done yoga? And I was like, No, I haven’t. And so he gave me a Brian Kest Yoga videotape. Yes. And I went home, I took it, I went home, I watched it. And then I proceeded to do the whole practice. And that was when I first I fell in love. And I remember waking up the next day, feeling like places in my body that were like I had never felt before. And I call out sick because I was like I can’t move. And then I played the video again. And I like I did it again. And I remember the very first time I did that yoga video, feeling this connection with myself in a way that I never felt before. Not just physically. But this thing that I could not name it was like, I don’t know, it was this connection to this part of myself that was not nameable and that I didn’t really recognize. But I know it was that moment where I felt like wow, I want more of this. And I need more of it. So ever since that time I purchased the other two videos of his and did them for like every other day and became a student of yoga. At that time.

That’s so cool to hear. And I’m guessing because ’92 We’re talking VHS. Yes. Yeah. I know I’ve saved some of my VHS yoga tapes gonna like these things are just classic. We got to hang on to them. And so your first experience was via the medium of well, I won’t say it was analog, time but through video, which is really cool to think because I know a lot of people their first experience is going to a studio into a class, but you got the you had the motivation to do it at home to a video. That’s really cool.

Yes, it absolutely was. And I think Brian Kest is a super engaging teacher who has a way of really challenging you physically, which worked for me, as well as inserting philosophy into things, you know, that I didn’t even understand into the practice. And so I think that’s, that’s what really caught my attention. Like, you know, he was saying things that he where you are, because you’re already there, you know, like, what is that? It’s really making me curious. And from that moment on, I became a student of yoga and living in Central Jersey, the closest place that I know, when I looked up yoga teachers, it was Barren Baptist was in Philadelphia around that time. Yeah. So I would go to his weekend, you know, intensives and classes and things like that. And then there was a local yoga studio nearby that was an Iyengar yoga studio. So I would do every weekend workshop that they had there and really became a student of Iyengar yoga, and Barron Baptist and other teachers too. And just study every moment I had.

That’s amazing what was going on in your life around that time. Were you a student? Were you. Did you have a family at that point? How busy were you? Or were you able to just like really dive into yoga?

Romy Toussaint  

Yeah, I was. I was super busy. I was a mom. I had two children at the time. And I was also a professional. I worked full time. I think I might have been coaching. Yeah, I think I was coaching one or two of my son’s soccer teams. So I was super busy. And I also played volleyball because I was a collegiate volleyball player. And I would play volleyball whenever I could. So at that time, I was super busy. And I but I was just really in love with this new thing that was yoga. And it just felt like it was my time. Yeah, to do something for myself. And so it was easy to carve time to get away. And that felt really valuable.

Todd McLaughlin  

That’s really cool. Can you explain what the vibe was? Like? Because I mean, ’92 was going back 30 years?  What was the yoga scene like? And I know, you said there wasn’t a lot of options to practice. What was the vibe, like going into that Iyengar studio back then? Where people really excited about yoga? What was the overall vibe then?

Romy Toussaint  

I would say it was, it was very exciting. I mean, I remember my one specific teacher, Joe Carter, who was just, you know, would just be so friendly. And I said, when I think about I Iyengar, I think really regimented, you know, like alignment, you know, and we would have guest teachers who are senior Iyengar teachers who would come through, and focus on all of that, but there was something about Joe Carter that was just so friendly and full of life. And that just brought a different vibe to her yoga studio that was Iyengar, just super friendly. And just like, you know, Romy, you’re really strong, but you don’t have to, like use your force in Downward Dog. See, here’s how you can relax into this, you know, really, you can’t keep focusing on that force on that strength all the time. You know, bringing that balance. So I feel like I was surrounded with really wise teachers at that time, and so, and even when I would travel to like the yoga conferences back then, like the Yoga Journal conferences early on, I would seek variety, you know, like Sadie Nardini. You know, I can’t even think of those names back then. Eric Schiffman. You know,

Todd McLaughlin  

I’ve never had a chance to practice with him by everyone I’ve met that’s practice with him always says really nice things about him.

Romy Toussaint  

Yes, yes. So being able to take workshops with people like that and just get a variety. I think there was a woman named Mary Lafferty who I remember taking a handstand workshop with and she was like, Well, I did my first head handstand when I was like, 50 something back then I was like, what? And then she says, you know, and then I could hold it for like one minute when I was like 53 I was like what!?!  there’s a lot of hope you know, and yes, a lot of growth.

Todd McLaughlin  

That’s really cool. How long did you practice and or what was the evolution to the point of you getting excited about yoga and then having a moment where you thought maybe I want to actually teach yoga?

Romy Toussaint  

Yeah, so from ’92 to about 1998. For about six years. I was really a student of yoga. I should say that I I used to teach fitness classes. Like I was an aerobics instructor, so I just love all of those things. So I think I was a natural teacher. I grew up in high school and in college, I was a swimming instructor during the summers. And I remember like jumping in the water to teach the water aerobics class when one of the aerobics teachers didn’t show up. So I feel like I’ve, I’ve always been in teaching. So for me teaching was easeful. It was just another modality, which I found very profound that I’d noticed, long before I started taking a yoga class that I was inserting yoga philosophy, even in my cardio classes, even in my spin classes. I would take people on journey. That, to me was very meditative. You know, even though I was seeking a kick, butt, you know, climbing yoga class, spin class. So I feel like I started adding it into those things. And then it was around, I would say, around 2000, 2002, when I started just to really shift to letting go of all of my other classes, and just teaching yoga. Really going deeper into teaching yoga only, and not all the cardio classes. Yeah. And it was sort of a shift. So after I had my second batch of boys that like I say, I, my two older, after had my two younger sons, I stayed, I became a stay at home mom. And did not go to work formally. And just so just taught more classes in my spare time to pay for my gym membership. And just really started switching to teaching yoga. And so then I started looking for teacher training, and just did more study with, again, Baron Baptiste, Don Domenico. Also at the Iyengar studio. Also did some study with Ralph Gates. Yeah, I just knocked me over with his philosophy. Like, just like, Whoa!?! 

Todd McLaughlin  

Is his book called  “Meditation from the Mat?”

Romy Toussaint  

“Meditations on the Mat.” Yeah. So I got to study with him in person in Philadelphia when he would come in because he used to work closely with Baron Baptist. And so I spent some time with him at Kripalu. And I just love his way of teaching life lessons on the mat. And he’s just so, he’s just such a beautiful voice and a beautiful way of flowing and really making you work so hard yet really come back to the yamas and niyamas. Moderation to, you know, truth to love. And so yeah, so I started, that’s when I really started teaching fully more yoga and just started to deepen my practice. And then at some point, I think it was around 2007 when my husband and I built, we had a chance to build our own house, and we built it with a basement that was just wide open. So with the idea of doing a yoga studio, in the basement,

Todd McLaughlin  

You decked it out with……. so this is in Jersey something and obviously like a nice heating system?

Romy Toussaint  

Yeah, first of all, it’s just a basement!!! But we made it, we made it like a pretty high ceiling. You know, it was like 10 foot ceilings and the sliding glass door so it had a lot of light. And we we stained the cement floor, painted the walls, my friend who are artists, painted, you know, the walls, beautiful color, and just like did a really nice view on the wall. And we put in, my husband installed like a gas heater. And I started teaching yoga classes. It really started with my personal training clients kind of like small group. And then I noticed it was those people who were coming into my public classes, like where I was teaching in the gym. And so one day there, you know, the bell kind of rang in my head. Like, if I have just three or four people come to my private classes I make just as much as teaching a really big class in a gym or in a studio. So that just really grew from there. I started keeping just like two classes at home. And then it went to like four. And I really had a vibrant yoga studio for about five years in my home. I even did kid yoga because I studied kids yoga as well. Nice. I studied with Yoga Ed, Yoga Ed, where you know, that curriculum for schools. So I started teaching that as well. So I would do yoga camp and during the summer yoga for tweens, and had some guest teachers come so the studio was really great. It was like coming down into the womb, you know, was this place where we held space.

Todd McLaughlin  

That sounds amazing to be able to have it at your house. I’ve always thought that would be such a interesting dynamic. Was there ever an issue where the neighbors were like, how come so many cars are parking at Romy’s house or? Or was everybody you know pretty cool with that?

Romy Toussaint  

Yeah, you know, I was really fortunate. We lived in the cul-de-sac and there were only two other houses there. So that space was open. My neighbors were very, very wonderful. After a while I knew that I couldn’t continue to keep the yoga studio there because, you know, it wasn’t like it wasn’t sort of an under the table, not permitted thing. We had big classes. And it just I just felt continually nervous about it. I think we’re also at the place where we could no longer afford to keep that house because, you know, we live in Lawrenceville, taxes are super high. My husband’s a mortgage banker, and you know, the mortgage era was not as great. So it was just not financially feasible for us to keep that house. And so. So then I was I had the opportunity to join a local chiropractor who had been my doctor, who had this dream of having sort of a Wellness Center where yoga was included with the physical therapy, with massage with chiropractic and acupuncture. Perfect. So I was invited to join the practice, where I ran the studio, where I brought in my studio, my clients, and about a year later, another yoga studio joined us. So we really formed Complete Health Yoga, where I currently still teach.

Todd McLaughlin  

Nice, you’re still there?  Yeah, so I still teach there. Although I teach only two to three classes a week, coming down to two now. I’ve really evolved into doing more than just teaching yoga. But that is my home studio. That’s really cool. It sounds as if you’ve moved locations over the years, but have been able to maintain like, a solid base, even though there were little transitions.

Romy Toussaint  

Yeah, so the transition went from my home yoga studio. After a while I stopped teaching outside of the studio, outside of my home, I just only taught at home. But I went to yoga retreats, and other you know, guest teachings at other places. And then when I joined Complete Health Yoga, my yoga studio became part of that. And that’s where I did all of my offerings. And we had a very vibrant community. And we still do until you know, COVID sort of changed things or now we’re more virtual, anything. But that’s my you know, that’s my yoga community. And it was an incredible support from the doctors who really wanted to make the yoga part of the whole practice.

Todd McLaughlin  

That’s cool. You were working closely with the like local physicians?

Romy Toussaint  

Just the chiropractor. But yes, it’s the owners of Complete Health of Lawrenceville. We just really wanted to offer a space where where people came from physical therapy, and chiropractic, you know, people who may have been injured to really shift to having yoga as their daily physical practice.

Todd McLaughlin  

Yes. Mostly, I find that sometimes I come across chiropractors that are really pro yoga. And sometimes I come across some that are saying no, you know, be careful of yoga and maybe going as far as don’t do yoga. Have you ever found that? IT sounds like the people you work with are very pro yoga and seeing that they that both chiropractic and yoga are very similar and can have equal benefit?

Romy Toussaint  

No, I feel like our doctors are definitely very pro yoga, which is why they wanted to have the studio there and work, you know, diligently to although it was difficult, and it still is challenging, to really go get people to, you know, move towards that effect. This is your daily physical therapy, once you heal here, you know, keep doing yoga and get stronger and balanced. And it brings in that mind body component. So yeah, they’re definitely very pro yoga.

Todd McLaughlin  

I’m curious, because when I was having a little bit of a neck injury, I went to my chiropractor here and she said, What are you doing? What are you doing in your practice? And at that point, I was doing a lot of head standing. And she was said she was like, you know, maybe maybe you shouldn’t do that for two months. And at the time, I was like, How can I do my yoga without doing headstands and once I laid off the headstands my neck started feeling better and miraculously, I’m curious where where are you nowadays with, with teaching students headstands and or are you doing head standing these days?

Romy Toussaint  

Yeah, so that’s a really good question. And I think it really brings us back to the first Yama which is non violent. And so I teach. I have been teaching handstands even though most people can’t do handstands but even not me. Just you know, Handstand against the wall or downward dog handstand. Yeah. So I I will say if headstand is in your practice, you know make sure that you’re not feeling that kind of pressure. Even shoulder stand I think is another one of those contra indicated postures that I don’t really do because I feel when it when I come out of Shoulderstand I feel like really weird pressure down my spine. And if I do do it, I do it with blankets, really focused on me Iyengar alignment. Yeah. There’s freedom in my neck when I do that. So typically in my classes I will not really teach shoulder scan or headstand. I definitely do handstands will do a lot to keep the wrists strong because then you’re off your neck and there’s a lot of less a lot less pressure on your neck.

Todd McLaughlin  

So that sounds awesome that you had all that Iyengar training because that seems to make sense later on. If we start feeling injury it seems like I yoga really kind of laid down a couple of great groundwork tools for learning how to modify I’m yeah, I’m curious. I when I first started doing yoga, I was involved in a style where it was looked down upon to go to other styles of yoga and what I am impressed with his that sounds like you really just kind of went for learning “across the board.” Like you went to Iyengar, you were able to practice in the Baptist style which I know, Baron has a background in Iyengar and Ashtanga and hot yoga. And did you when you were really gung ho and enthusiastic and going to all these different learning opportunities, did you find that people were very encouraging of you to take that wideangle approach? Or did you come up against that more like hardened, Like, “you should only be with me” and “don’t go anywhere else.” Did you bump into that much?

Romy Toussaint  

I did not. I really did not. I? Again, my teacher, Joe Carter was you know very much Iyengar based. So I studied a lot with her but I did not I was naturally curious. I actually studied Kundalini yoga was different Kundalini teachers, I studied Anusara you know, because so it to me, it was just curious to see, to understand the differences between them all and what did I like, I love Kundalini yoga! I bring it into I teach 6am yoga classes. And that’s like my rise and shine Kundalini, we can and we do these Kriyas I think it’s, for me being a vata type that’s just like, naturally like, yeah, that brings my energy way up. So I really enjoy that as well. And as I’m aging, I’m focusing on restorative yoga. And yoga nidra. And so I love the variety and I love inserting different styles. I think I’m a little bit a ADD because I get really bored. And I don’t think I’ve ever taught the same yoga twice, like, unless I was doing Ashtanga. So I, I teach a different class all the time. And I may have a style that is very inclusive, I will start with Kriya’s my latest teacher I’ve been studying within last eight or nine years is Janet stone is out of San Francisco. And it’s really devotional yoga. And this is where I get introduced to chanting and mantra and just true philosophy. And that really rocked my boat when I had to like, chant out loud and lead chanting and classes. And for me, it was, you know, growing up Catholic, it was like, we don’t chant to deities, you know. And to just reconcile, that was a huge learning curve for me to just be okay with that. And knowing that, you know, truth doesn’t get erased. And for me, all of those studies have deepened my relationship with God, and allowed me to just be open to taking the good out of everything, and seeing the sacred in all beings. So I love inserting different styles and I absolutely love chanting. What I love the most is helping people to take a little bit of this amazing philosophy this great guideposts, this GPS that comes with the Yamas and Niyamas and infuse it into their daily life.

Todd McLaughlin  

That’s awesome. Romy, is there an opportunity via virtual for those of us listening that we want to join you? Are you teaching virtually right now?

Romy Toussaint  

I do. I’m teaching virtually all my classes are virtual right now. And I teach on Mondays and Wednesdays at 8:30am. Eastern Time, cool. And I’ve been teaching 6am as well. Although I’m moving. I’m traveling a lot in the next few months. So my classes are so like, on and off, but I do teach virtually. I also have a Vimeo channel under my name Romyoga, that that has a ton of classes that I’ve recorded that are there. Cool. So I have a YouTube channel as well, Romyoga where I have classes that people can find me.

Todd McLaughlin  

nice. I’ll have all of those links in the show notes below. So if anyone wants to click on that, they can check it out. That’s cool. Romi. I appreciate that. And I noticed some that you have led retreats I’m sure things have changed a little bit in the last year or two but where are some places that you’ve taken people on retreat?

Romy Toussaint  

I love retreats. I think it’s such a great way for people to really arrive and settle in and unwind and unplug and reconnect to themselves. And so I’ve led national and international retreats. This past weekend I was just in Blairstown, New Jersey on the Appalachian Trail!

Todd McLaughlin  

Nice! I want to want to hike the Appalachian not the whole I mean, I would love to do the whole thing by No, it’s a huge endeavor but can you section of it? I’ve when I was in Tennessee, I just walk I got to the trail. But um, what’s what’s the trail like where you are?

Romy Toussaint  

So I’m in I went right on the Delaware Water Gap. So it’s just right on the edge of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and beautiful. It’s also super Rocky, it’s like Rocky!!!!

Todd McLaughlin  

I heard there is tough section up there, like like, so like real thick, heavy hiking boots, makes your ankles are okay. And that type of thing. Yeah.

Romy Toussaint  

Bottom support, you know, so nice. All day long, you’re stepping on rocks. And so you’re like, the bottoms of your feet are crazy. But the views, you know, once you’re up there, just amazing view in the section that we were. So you just hike up about a quarter mile or a little bit more in Europe, you just have endless views. And I love taking people out into nature because they really get to reconnect and and strengthen the elements in their bodies. So when we do like a yoga and hiking retreat, it’s just like the perfect combination. Yeah. So I do that I do lots of national retreat. I also do. I’ve been internationally as held retreats in Guatemala, and Mexico and Costa Rica and Peru. And I’m going to Peru in March 2022. Nice. So I’ll have a nine day retreat in Peru. That was an amazing place. I went there in 2018. And to see all the sacred sites in Peru, it’s magical.

Todd McLaughlin  

I’ve never been here. It’s absolutely incredible. Everyone that I’ve ever talked to that’s gone, always tells me you got to do it. You gotta go, you gotta go. That’s amazing. That’s so cool. How did you? I have two questions here and this direction. How did you handle COVID In that respect, cuz it sounds like, you know, a very people person. Like to be around people and lead retreats. We’re, now we have a little bit of opportunity to look back and see like, wow, the last year and a half, you know, I can see how I reacted to that initially and how I feel now, how did you go through all that? Was it easy for you? Did you struggle?

Romy Toussaint  

Well, thank you goodness, was Peru was happening when I was? I was in March. Right? Right. in March when everything was closing? Yeah. 2019. Right. We were in, I was leading a retreat in Costa Rica. So I was literally there trying to get home when our flights were delayed. I was like, I should just stay for a couple of weeks out, let me write it out. Been there like you’ve come home now or forever, you know, you can stay there for a while. So we came home and spent the next couple of weeks just really transitioning. I think even when I was in Peru, I was on the phone with other teachers trying to figure out how to transition to virtual. Well, I think our we’ve closed the studio for like a week. And then we transition to virtual. And it was, it was amazing. I think our numbers actually went up in the beginning. Because people were like looking for ways to stay in connection. And because we couldn’t, we didn’t take we could even get out of our houses. And so we transitioned pretty quickly and figured out all the zoom, trained all the teachers, especially those who really weren’t good with electronics, including myself, including myself, yes. So you know, so we figured that out. And what I remember was trying to find a way to keep people connected even to the zoom. So I would open up the Zoom Room early and have people talk to each other just like I would do in our, you know, yoga class maybe even have prompts like, what’s your body sensation and feeling and thoughts, you know, so that people really had a chance to be vulnerable, and really seen the classes with, you know, creating our own, you know, our own power, our own sense of resilience and our own connection with ourselves. And so I feel like it was an opportunity to really grow and insert more yoga philosophy that was so helpful in people staying sane and grounded. And strong and connected. Yeah. And so, yeah, so we continue to do mostly virtual classes, because a lot of the people in our studio, I think are older and are careful about coming back in person. We also because we were part of the physical therapy and chiropractic and they needed to spread their patients out so they kind of took over our yoga room. So now we sort of like share that space. We don’t have as much open times as we would like. But it but we’re working and people are ready quite yet to be fully back in person.

Todd McLaughlin  

Yeah, it’s taking some time, isn’t it? 

Romy Toussaint  

Yeah, takingsome time. So those who want to come, they come and those others are happy to just log in from home because it’s so convenient. Yeah.

Todd McLaughlin  

No, it’s amazing. I know, that’s one thing I’m thankful for is the virtual element access something I always thought I would like to do, but it just seemed like more work than it would be feasible. And now that it’s in place, I’m so happy to be able to keep it going. It feels like why not just keep that going forever? Yeah,

Romy Toussaint  

absolutely. I think there were a lot of advantages. There were people who were all over the world. I remember, you know, practicing with my old clients who could never practice with me because they were out of the country, or they were on the West Coast. And now, they hop in in practice. So there are some advantages to that. I feel like people are kind of zoomed out now. Or not, yeah, there are not as full.

Todd McLaughlin  

Instead of like, you’re zoning out? It’s like, I’m zoomed out. zoomed out, you’re like, yeah, we’ve noticed a big, well I’m in Florida, but we’ve noticed a big transition lately, which has been kind of nice people coming back in.

Romy Toussaint  

Yeah, so I think maybe the winter might change it where people might, you know, where they’ve been outside more, maybe in the winter, they’ll come back more to resume classes. But I think that, that is definitely slowing down. Another thing I did during COVID Is I taught, I have a year long immersion that I teach where I focus on the 10 habits of Ayurveda, which was so timely during COVID, because it was habits to help you have the best health and to really understand, you know why it’s important to have an earlier and lighter dinner to go to bed early, start your day like to include a bed, breath, body practice, how to really focus on a plant based diet, not being a vegetarian or vegan, but a plant based diet. So I teach people these 10 Habits through a year long immersion, where we have a group of sangha, you know, where you have a community, it’s a dynamic group. And so that was one of the things I did throughout the entire year. And it was great, because, again, people were from all over the place, but they had a community super supportive community of like minded people who kept them accountable, you know, so they could, you know, they slept better, and they lost weight, they had more energy. And that is one thing that I continue to do. And that I invite people to, to check out because you get these habits. And by the end of the year of your year long immersion, you’ve really automated those habits. And you’ve gone through the holidays, to the birthdays to all the things where you fall off the bandwagon and come back. And so I love teaching that because it’s lifelong tool people. And when they shift, they also shift their families. You know, and everybody feels better and get in is healthier.

Todd McLaughlin  

Yeah, good point. Romy. That’s amazing. That’s so cool that you’re able to keep that going. It sounds like we give a lot of people some motivation, because I know a lot of people struggled during during all of that. I’m curious, I’m curious how you are handling the challenge of say leading a group to an international or national, national or international destination, we were scheduled to host a retreat in Thailand in 2020. And so that obviously got canceled. And I don’t want to name the retreat center because I really want those guys to thrive and excel. And we obviously kept postponing it. And recently I received information that like now the checklist for getting over there is like you got to travel from an approved country, then you have to apply for like a Thailand QR code. And then you have to provide a negative test within 72 hours of arrival, you have to have an insurance policy that for $50,000 I’ll cover you in case you get sick there. And then you have to like make sure you have payment confirmation for the hotel where you’re staying, which will cover the cost of the test. When you arrive at the place you have to show a certificate of vaccination. undergo entry screening when you get to the airport and then take the COVID test when you arrive at the retreat center so that you landed and now you’re ready to go. Does that seem daunting to you? Or does that just seem like so what like let’s just move forward and just take on these challenges and just deal with it everybody? Let’s keep going. 

Romy Toussaint  

Well, it you know, it is absolutely daunting and and it’s so wonderful when you get there. I was just at a retreat. Girlfriend getaway in St. Maarten. Last month in early October I was in St. Maarten it was the same thing I had to and you could only apply like a few days before it was like four days before I had to apply to this website from the St Maarten government to upload my vaccination card my negative COVID test and pay this fee which was like insurance and case I get COVID there so that they could take care of me, it was only $15. But I had to go through all of that. And then once I got there, the retreat that I was part of, they tested us again. And then before we left 72 hours before we left, we needed to get a negative COVID test to, you know, for the US for coming back. So there are all of those procedures there. And it can be really daunting and just a lot of work. And I think it’s just, it was one, it was the most amazing week that I had in my life. I was yeah, I felt safe with the people who were there because we all went to the all the same screening. So I know that I work with people who were negative, who were, who were vaccinated, and I felt safe, the retreat center that I’m working with in Peru, they’re very cooperative, I know that I know that the protocols that they have, they’re all in place to keep us really safe. They work with me, and I work with them to really make those procedures clear. And we write him out. And I tell people as soon as they start, so that they understand it. And I just, you know, just write it down and walk them through it, because I think it’s just worth it. It’s just worth it to even even the local retreat that I had here. You know, it was just, you know, here are protocols, and we’re going to be outside most of the time. And if you don’t feel secure just don’t come. Yeah, but yeah, yeah.

Todd McLaughlin  

That’s cool. I mean, I appreciate your optimism, because I feel like it’s just gonna be critical for us to rebound, and just do what we have to do. But let’s keep having fun and enjoying life.

Romy Toussaint  

Exactly. I mean, we can’t live in isolation forever. And even when we’re in isolation, some of us still get COVID. So, exactly. So this is where I think it comes back to, again, the habits that I teach people, the only thing that we have control over is our own immunity, and how we can create a culture of health in our own body. So if we have habits so that we can thrive, and stay strong and grounded, then we know we’re doing something so that when we when we face those things, we’re going to be okay, hopefully, right, we’re showing up in our very best self. So if we have habits where we get great sleep, and we’re nourishing our body with natural things, you know, with resilient plants that we can forage, then we are creating a culture of health in our bodies that take that vitamin D and take your zinc, you no to all of those things. And then wear your mask and show up.

Todd McLaughlin  

Yep. Awesome, Ronnie. I agree. I agree. I agree. I noticed that I can already tell that you’d be good at this. But I saw that you do speaking and corporate training? Can you tell me a little bit how you went in that direction? And what is it like to….. do you get jitters before you stand up in front of a group and motivate in a corporate setting? Or you just naturally just kind of flow in that direction? How is that evolved for you?

Romy Toussaint  

Oh, no, I definitely get the jitters. I have to use all of my practices I have to breathe. I stand in five pointed star and I open my arms and I lift my heart and I breathe and I I tell myself, you are amazing. You’re amazing. You’re good enough. Even maybe you are good enough. Because I think one of the common is, if you knew me, you would know that there’s a story that runs through my head all the time. That is I don’t know enough, you’re not good enough. Oh my god, you can’t do this. And it runs through all the time. And I just breathe. And I tell that that personality, that persona of mine, thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you for loving me, but I am good enough, you know, thank you for that reminder, so that I can go and prepare more. So when I get that feeling I prepare more. And I remind myself that I’m good enough and and I also remember that there’s something that I want to share with the world. I want to share with people ways so that they can manage their energy and access their vitality so they can do their work in the world. And if I can make a difference in one person’s life, then I’m doing that. So if I mess up, then did I tell you know I like okay, how do I shift? How do I do better? What can I learn from that? Yeah, but I definitely get scared. So I prepare and and I breathe. I think I was just gonna say I think I think it’s a gift to once I get there I get energized by people. I really get energized by by my purpose. Like I want to share these four things with you and they’re going to make a difference in your life. And so yeah, here’s why I show up. 

Todd McLaughlin  

How did the first situation where you did a public speaking engagement like that come about? Did someone come to your yoga class and go oh my gosh Romy you’re so positive I love your vibe. Will you please come to my corporate you know my business and give a speech? Or was it that you took a training in it and then, like sought an opportunity? What was your first like endeavor in that direction?

Romy Toussaint  

I’m trying to remember what by My very first endeavor was. I think it might have been, I think it was someone who took my spin class and my yoga class. And she and I would always give tips and things for you know you to do at home and things like that. And she was holding a care, she was having a caregivers retreat. And I often talk about, you know, you’re the caregiver, you need to take care of yourself, because Would you come and speak. And so I came and spoke, and I think that was the beginning of it. I spoke at a caregivers retreat, I think there were like, maybe 100 women there who are caregivers. And and I think it was from that moment on that I started, you know, asking for more opportunities and getting invited, you know, word of mouth. And now I try to really kind of put myself out there. And one of the things that I talk on is conscious leadership. So how do we how do we show up fully present and mindful, and, you know, in our vulnerability, and still show up, like teach, again, another year long immersion in that area, and I, the people who have taken my courses have invited me to speak at their schools, at their corporations. So it’s been building in that way. And I would love to, you know, find an agent and find more opportunities to get in front of people. Because for two reasons, because you get, you just reach more people, you reach more people with your message. And then as an entrepreneur, it’s an opportunity to make sort of more money with something that is like a one time or shorter period, where you just get better income. And it’s just really hard being a business person and entrepreneur in the yoga world. You know, we make 40 bucks a class, if you’re lucky. If that’s just really hard. And at some point, I’d love to not keep working. I’m almost I’m 59 years old, I’ll 59 This year, at some point after retire, I don’t think I’ll ever retire. But I just can’t keep working at this pace. And so yeah, abundance, right. It is important that we pay mortgages.

Todd McLaughlin  

Yes. And have children.

Romy Toussaint  

Yeah. And have children. Yeah, yeah. Exactly.

Todd McLaughlin  

So can you explain you said the conscious Leadership Immersion? So I’m curious how to do something that runs over a year and you said that it creates like a sangha, or a group where you can stay motivated? Are you are you meeting physically in spaces? And then having a virtual space, like on a Facebook page, where people are then checking in and communicating or and? Or how does like, well, how does the structure have you managed to structure that?

Romy Toussaint  

Yeah. So the first conscious Leadership Immersion I did was in person where we met four times during the year, so every quarter, and we would come together for like, a weekend. And in in between, we would have virtual, so I’ve been using zoom way before, you know, for a long time, yeah. So we would meet via zoom and things like that. So that’s the same thing that happens with my virtual group, we meet mostly by via zoom, and we try to get together, you know, first in person, retreat every once in a while, but most of the curriculum is delivered, you know, via zoom, you know, we go into breakout rooms, we do a lot of vulnerable shares. And then we have accountability partners. So it’s definitely possible for someone who can’t make it here physically, to participate as well. So it’s both options. But again, you get to, you know, get some tools, get some new ways of thinking, and then you get you go back into your real life, and you practice it, right. Yeah. And you live with it. And then you come back, you’re like, you know what, that didn’t work, or that really worked. Or, you know, I think one of the most influential things is like, you creating a language of creating sort of a common way of seeing the world and speaking with your family. It’s wonderful to go to yoga teacher training and do something or to go training and learn it and then you come back and nobody else understands it. But when you come home, and you start to insert that, like, speaking from inarguable truth, speaking from body sensations, feeling and thought, and so you’re having dinner, you’re like, No, I’m just noticing, you know, a little tightness in my chest, and my feeling is sadness. And my thought is, you know, I’m really sad that So and so is not here with us right now. Yeah, that’s it. That’s a genuine way of speaking where people like, oh, what does that come from? You know, so you can use that to really express your feelings. We could use that with your boss, like, I’m noticing, you know, anger right now. And my thought is, you know, I got passed over four times for that promotion that you promised me. These are my inarguable feelings, right? Not my blaming. I’m just saying, This is what happened. A way of showing up really present is what I teach people and how to take 100% responsibility for the circumstances in their life, to let go of being victims, villains or heroes in to show up present, and be able to have honest conversations and be in integrity with their agreement. And I think that changes the world.

Todd McLaughlin  

That’s amazing. Romy I also saw that you have something called a body Thrive immersion. Can you help me understand what what that means?

Romy Toussaint  

So that’s that’s the one where I teach the 10 habits of Ayurveda. So that’s so that’s those are the two sort of long term things that I do. And again, I do them long term because it’s easy to do something for a couple of months, and then you, you fall off the bandwagon. But when you practice it over and over again for over a year, it really becomes part of you. And you master it

Todd McLaughlin  

I hear you. I know you guys are we’re all going into winter, but I know the northeast, it’s a little bit more real than it is here in Florida. But what what kind of activities do you engage in in the winter? To like, stay? I mean, I get the sense that you like to be active and you’re you’re moving? Do you, does that change with the season for you?

Romy Toussaint  

No, you know, and so I’m I’m Haitian, you know, so I was born, I was born in Haiti, and I’m like an island girl, I love 80 degrees, 90 degrees. So when winter comes around, I’m like, Oh, my God, It’s probably my least favorite season, because I’m like “the winters COMING!” I wouldn’t even enjoy fall. But now I just really embrace the outdoors, no matter what. I go for a walk, you know, no matter what’s happening. So I just get the right clothes in the winter and I get outside. I bought cross country skis a couple, you know, a season ago to just learn to just get out there and enjoy the sunshine. Hiking is one of my favorite things to do. So just walking in the woods and our nature trails here because we have so many of them. And I really tell people when you’re out in the element, you have you you are naturally healing your body building your immunity, you have just a lot less anxiety. So I teach people to get out and I leed, I walk the talk and love getting outside. So I go out even in dark, I go for a walk around the block before bed. And so I just enjoy the elements. The colors right now, as you can see them are amazing. It’s just beautiful here right now!

Todd McLaughlin  

is I had the opportunity last week to fly up to Michigan and then drive from Michigan back down to Florida and all the leaves were still on the trees. And it had that like bright red yellows, oranges. It was the green of the evergreens. It was so beautiful. And  we don’t have that here in Florida. And I was haven’t seen that in a while. And I was blown away by the beauty of that.

Romy Toussaint  

Yes, yeah. Yeah, I love getting outside. And I love climbing mountains. So I take people on hikes and you know, help them to climb a mountain, a lot of people are really afraid to hike, or they haven’t done it. One of the things that I I do, I work with an organization locally here that’s called the Uutdoor Equity Alliance. And I worked with some of the other open space organizations. And I take people out into monthly hikes, weekly hikes. And I also work a lot with taking people of color out into the woods into nature, because a lot of people of color, don’t really have the opportunity to get out into nature, or even if they want to they’re don’t live close enough or have transportation, or don’t feel welcome or invited in the outdoors. And so I committed to doing that. And I do a lot of events where we do just for like I do a lot of women of color retreats, where we just really focus on bringing them together out in nature with our own group so that we can be at ease without any microaggressions without having to be in sort of that place where we feel other. And so that’s one of my missions in life and absolutely love it. It’s just one of my most rewarding things that I do. And I’m fortunate to be with other organizations that are committed to bringing more equity in the outdoors.

Todd McLaughlin  

That’s so cool. Romy, I feel like my next question you you almost already answered it. But when you’re feeling like you need a little boost of motivation, it sounds like nature gives that too. But what sources outside of nature even do you seek to get inspired?

Romy Toussaint  

Outside of nature, well, nature is so big outside of nature. You know, it’s really tough.

Todd McLaughlin  

Maybe there’s nothing but nature. I mean, maybe yes.

Romy Toussaint  

But I would say time with time with my family. Yeah. I really, really value family time which we we do most of it in nature and time with girlfriends like me and my girlfriends. So like, I have a you know, a couple batches where it’s just, we have these times and I belong to a book club. So that I am reading other than yoga books and manuals. So that’s just really precious time, valuable time where I connect with, with my girlfriends and with my family. And outside and my my spouse of 33 years we are, you know, we go for a daily walk. And John is one of my dearest friends and biggest supporter. But I just really appreciate time with my family and friends. And most of that we do it out in nature.

Todd McLaughlin  

That’s awesome Romy. Again, I feel like you give me such a good sense of this, but I just jot down a few questions I want to ask you, I’ll go here, even though I feel like we’ve already had but how much a part of your athleticism plays into who you are today? Cuz you mentioned you know, you’re very active. And then, you know, maybe somebody who isn’t active and is feeling a bit beat down and or having a hard time in life to feel that the physical part, the athletic part, or the whether it’s yoga or like you said hiking is is absolutely critical?

Romy Toussaint  

Yeah, I think we’re made to move. Yeah, I feel like we’re built to move we’re made to move. And for me, you know, I know you know about the doshas and the constitution, I’m definitely a Vata, Pitta, for vata types of movement is feels really good for me. And I think we, we also, I feel more creative, when I’m moving, I feel more in flow with life. And I’m learning that I need to sit still, I need to sit and watch the sunrise and do less. And so I tend to be the one that over, you know, over schedules. And I have a lot on my list of to do’s, because I can do it. I’m a type three in the Enneagram. And I’m an I’m an achiever. And so what was that you

Todd McLaughlin  

just said, I’m a type three and

Romy Toussaint  

type three, in the Enneagram, the Enneagram, as a personality? Didn’t know that, right? All right, yeah. Enneagram, there’s nine personality types. And I’m a three two, which is an achiever and a helper, like I tend to be, I have the ability, the capacity to do a lot. And I know that I, I tend to overdo it. And so as a as I’m getting older and wiser, and really focusing on philosophy and balance, I know that I have to carve out more time where I don’t do anything where I sit in silence where I just read a book or, you know, just be just time to be. And I’m learning that as well. So instead of hiking a mountain, maybe just walk.

Todd McLaughlin  

I hear ya. Finding that balance. Right. It’s it’s an interesting, what about in regards to say, how do you find a balance between eating like a healthy diet and splurging every now and again, with an unhealthy one? Do you let yourself ever be like, go down the path of where like, I know, I shouldn’t have this, but I’m gonna do it anyway? Or are you like really strict about like focusing on just like eating really good? Or do you feel like you have a balance there? What are your thoughts there and/or advice?

Romy Toussaint  

Yeah, so being a yoga certified yoga health coach, I try to walk the talk. And so I have always called myself a flexitarian, where for the most part, I eat a plant based diet, I try, I work to be very healthy. And just like I tell my clients aim for a B, aim for a B, or a B minus, that way, you won’t, you will never fail. So if it’s 80% of the time, 80% of the time you eat healthy, you you know, you’re you’re exercising, you do this, and then you go out and you you splurge and you know, I was talking to someone the other day, who said it, oh, this is my cheat day. And I don’t like that word. Because I think it’s like, that doesn’t feel right. For me. I like to say this is what I’m, I’m going to have this I’m allowing myself to, I’m having this I’m going to have a glass of wine, you know, at this party, I will have, you know what’s offered to me. And if my mom makes me my Haitian and rice and beans, and then the legumes and that I’m going to have it, but I’m not having it every day. For the most part. I eat healthy. I work out mostly every day. Because I’m committed to understanding how I feel when I eat a certain way. How do I feel when I drink a lot of wine? Well, it makes me sweat. It makes I don’t get the buzz that I want. I just sort of like wake up in a sweat in the middle of the night. I don’t go I go by the feelings. So I try to do the things that make me really feel great. When I eat early enlighted dinner and I eat healthy food. I feel great. When I stuffed myself with something I feel like this lump in my belly and I wake up in the middle of that I’d have to take a Tums. I don’t like feeling that way. So. So there are certain things that I will have like my dark chocolate or I will eat you know what’s put in front of me from a guest at your house for dinner. I’m not going to say I don’t need this. I don’t need that unless I’m allergic to it. But I will taste it out. I will be yeah like I will feel You know, gracious that you cook for me. But that’s not what I’m going to eat every day.

Todd McLaughlin  

I hear Yeah, that’s cool. 

Romy Toussaint  

I totally believe in moderation.

Todd McLaughlin  

That’s cool. I like to aim for the B. That’s awesome versus I gotta be in A plus dieter.

Romy Toussaint  

If you fall off. And then you go and you binge, I think a lot of these Yogi’s are binge eaters and hide behind this and that, you know, I’m a vegan for life. I’m a vegan for life. It’s like, well, you know, for most of the time, I’m going to eat plant based. And I love gnawing on a chicken bone, you know, everyone’s to know, while it feels really good. I’m gonna make it as organic and grass fed as possible. But, yeah, I think balance and moderation is the key.

Todd McLaughlin  

Yes, that’s awesome. Romy. I have? I have a tough question for you. I wrote this question down. And I thought, like, how would I answer this question? And I don’t even know if I can answer this question. But do you? Are you okay? If I ask it? You’re like, oh, now I’m nervous. Um, what? What would be the first thing you would address if you were president?

Romy Toussaint  

Oh, wow. That’s a tough. Yeah, that’s tough. That is kind of impossible. 

Todd McLaughlin  

Yeah, how could you I know, but if there was something…….

Romy Toussaint  

I think Health Care, I think, I think everyone deserves. So as, as an entrepreneur. In my self employed, my husband also is self employed, trying to figure out how to pay for health insurance. We thank God, we’re healthy. And we pay very expensive health insurance for if we get hospitalized, you know, for disaster, but I’m self paid for everything. You know, I went to have my knee check out the other day, it was like, you know, $250 for eight minute visit, and I paid for the X rays before that. And and, yeah, so I think that’s just bad. And, yeah, and making sure that, you know, everyone gets an opportunity to vote and to participate in, in participation, get an opportunity to share their voice. Yeah. And so I mean, there’s so many. And of course, I guess the third thing I would say, is our environment. You know, yeah, just take, you know, this global warming that we feel doesn’t exist. But yeah, I mean, I’ve traveled around the country. I’ve seen lakes that are now, you know, that have sunk down to nothing, that there’s a fire. There’s, they’re underwater. And I think that’s super urgent. And no, it’s not too late for us to address that. And it is a reality for us to just start to make big changes.

Todd McLaughlin  

Great answers. Romy. Thank you. And then I just have one more question for you. The other day, when I got a chance to just have a quick phone call with you. You mentioned that you’re going to be competing in volleyball. Can you tell me about that?

Romy Toussaint  

Yes, I got a chance to play in the New Jersey Senior Olympics volleyball tournament, and I’m going to play in the National Senior Olympics. Volleyball Tournament in Florida, in Fort Lauderdale. I think in May. And I love, I’m a competitive person. And I just love you know, I played in college and I love the the connection as I’m getting older to see that I can still move that I can still feel alive in that way. And connect with the women on my team and just yeah, I’m excited to do that. That is why I was having my knees checked out to make sure that I was okay.

Todd McLaughlin  

Not Not an easy sport on the body. Right? I mean, maybe no sports easy as we keep going. But no,

Romy Toussaint  

no, sport is easy. But that one is super high impact. And when I played in the, in the Olympics in that couple months back, I was still sore, because I hadn’t played in a long time. And I just jumped in and my body felt like a 25 year old playing but it was a 58 year old.

Todd McLaughlin  

You’re like jump, Wait, why is my body not jumping? 🙂

Romy Toussaint  

Why is my body down there? It felt really good, but I was slower. So now I’m going to practice moderation and keep practicing every week so that I don’t do that. But I wanted to make sure that I didn’t have any instability in my knees.

Todd McLaughlin  

Well, that’s cool. Well, I don’t have to fill me in on when those dates are and I don’t know if they have spectators. But I’d love to get a chance to meet you. And maybe I could come down and watch you play.

Romy Toussaint  

I would love that. It’s cool.

Todd McLaughlin  

Well, thank you, Romy. I’m so excited that thank you so much for taking time to chat with me today. I really appreciate it. 

Romy Toussaint  

Yeah, you know I have one more thing I wanted to touch on that just came up to me was my experience being a woman of color of no black yoga teacher in the yoga world which I feel in our countries is very, very white. And so that’s been an experience as well. I remember traveling to yoga conferences and like seeing the one other black person there and seeing maybe a few more and just kind of like, lock eye locking with them and like saying, Hey, we’re here, which, again, I mentioned before I do a lot with bringing people of color into yoga or into the outdoors. And I think that that’s some place where, you know, I would love to see more inclusion, more opportunities. And so yeah, I think that’s just one interesting aspect of the, one of the few that’s been in this field for a long time,

Todd McLaughlin  

I’m really glad you brought that up. That’s a goal of mine to be as inclusive as possible. And maybe when you come to Florida, you could offer a workshop here, when you’re when you’re visiting. I would love that. Absolutely. So amazing. I appreciate you bringing that Romy, thank you, I know I, I feel like we’re gonna be we are so much better off if we all come together and, and have a great time celebrating everyone’s culture and diversity and being as inclusive as possible. So I think you’re right, I had a friend, I have a friend who also is from Haiti. And the other day, I was talking with him and I, he actually asked me the question, he said, How come black people don’t practice yoga? And I didn’t have a good answer for him. And I think that’s something that is important as yoga studios, I am talking and listening and, and I really think that’s something that we can all benefit from, if it’s, you know, available for everybody. And, and, and made to feel welcome. So I’m glad you brought that up. And that’s something I really hope and want to work toward to improve and, and get better at and or just just have evolved to something where we’re all enjoying it, and getting involved in it, and feeling positive from it and supportive for each other.

Romy Toussaint  

Well, yeah, and we all have to put that intention out there. And it’s not just people of color. It’s also people who are heavier people in heavier bodied people who have disabilities, and men and men. Yeah, as well. And so I think it’s opening that door to just be super inclusive. And we have to make that effort and find, I don’t know, get creative in how we make that happen. So whether it’s having separate classes, whether it’s having, just like in the outdoors, making people feel really welcome, and not just like going to that one black person in the class, or that one person can say, Can I help you? Here’s a block here. Is it like, can you be alone? Yeah. But yeah, finding, finding finding ways. Like not being not not being not being overbearing when they come. Yeah. Right. And getting more more people more teachers trained. And I think there are some natural, some reason where I think a lot of people of color are religious into like, well, this is against my religion, you really talk about what is yoga, what is the philosophy and how it can benefit you physically and mentally and spiritually without having to feel threatened by all of that. So we have to get real, we have to get creative. And we have to set the intention to be more inclusive and open.

Todd McLaughlin  

Yeah, that’s a really good, that’s a great point Rami I, in having a conversation, the last podcast I was able to do. I spoke with kids yoga, teacher trainer, or someone who’s involved in teaching children. And so I had brought up the question regarding, you know, if you teach kids in school, and if there’s a religious conflict that, you know, how do we go about doing that, and she made a really great point that never thought she said, like, even just saying, like, bring your hands into prayer position at the center of the chest or something like that, just by even implying that you’re going into prayer that may be using the terminology, like bring your hands together, at the center of your chest can completely change the intention and or the way it might be received. Do you have any insights regarding that, along this line of different ways that maybe would be less offensive? Or do you know what I mean? Like, is there have you? Yeah, yeah.

Romy Toussaint  

Well, absolutely. I think you have to really think through who your audience is, and what their thoughts is, and how can you how can you find a way to deliver the feeling the, the essence while making it accessible, you know, so, so it’s wording and it’s, it’s keeping it simple, and it’s also explaining what it means to be. This is what this means from me. Sharing our personal stories, you know, like I share my stories about being raised Catholic and feeling very conflicted with this. And here’s what I found. Here’s how I settled it. And here’s, here’s what I you know how it’s helped me. So I think sharing our vulnerable stories and getting creative and asking other people what they’ve done, I think we have to do our homework. And, and maybe skipping some of those parts. You know, where we don’t have to say Namaste day, we could just say, I thank you community, you know, for showing up, I thank you for coming to this class. And taking away some of the things that make people feel nervous or suspicious, or confused, and then explaining what does this mean to me. I remember the I was wanting to teach yoga as part of one of my but my Bible study classes and people are like that Romy. She can’t she can’t teach Bible study. Or she can host I was trying to host the Bible study in my home. She can host about Bible study, she does that yoga thing. So I had a conversation with my pastor, and he, you know, he did some study, you know, he researched it. And I think his daughter was doing yoga in California. And she talked to him about it. And, and he came to a couple of my classes, and he says, You know, I get this, I understand all of these things that are great. What I what I would warn you is to is to just use your own words, to speak it in your own words, and not like the words that are in the, in the book or in the class or whatever, so that people understand what you mean.

Todd McLaughlin  

Yeah. Yeah, that’s good insight. Yeah. I like the fact that you brought up like doing the research and the fact that your pastor spoke with his daughter and took your class. Like, that’s a beautiful thing, right to be willing to step outside of potentially the comfort zone, and just, hey, what do I think if I go and experience this? That’s pretty amazing. Right? Not, we don’t always do that.

Romy Toussaint  

Right? Right. That’s really about giving people the experience that they can know for themselves. How good you feel after the stretching, okay, well, let’s just stretch, we don’t have to chant we don’t have to do all those things just come and stretch because it starts with the body. And then it goes in.

Todd McLaughlin  

You know, you made mention that you’d like to do chanting, and I gathered, obviously, because you’re involved with or you really love Kundalini Yoga, when you do involve chanting Sanskrit chanting and or that type of mantra work? Do you specify that at the outset? So people are knowing what they’re going to get involved in? When they come in? Do you not do that? Because you want to see if they’re interested in have them show up, but then start to explain what you’re doing at the beginning. What is your protocol for helping to smooth out those edges? 

Romy Toussaint  

Yeah, I think for me, I, I started introducing chancing with a lot of people that I knew, you know, like, when I had a following, and my class is in. So I would introduce it in small ways. I think one of the things that I do is I explain what it means, here is the translation to this mantra, or even Om, it’s like, can’t with me, if you like what om means. And you don’t have to change. You could just be here, but know that even if you just listen, you get the vibe you get. You get the benefit, you get the whatever it is, right. And so I think first you need to translate so that people understand what they’re hearing so that they, they’ll be interested because it’s like weird if you’re just listening to something you don’t understand. So I think first translating and explain why I feel like it’s important now and what it means to me, here’s the story of this chant, and what it means and principle, see the benefits if you do this. And so making it relatable, you know, you can relate to abundance, right, so Lakshmi is about abundance. And so it represents this part of us that is already there and is already abundant, or this divine abundance that’s available that if we call to it, it comes to us. So something that’s already here. And so I think making it relatable and simple and also giving people options like you don’t have to chant it’s all just chant. Yeah, sometimes i’ll just chant in savasana.

Todd McLaughlin  

That’s great. I appreciate that explanation. You know, I I grew up Catholic as well and so I grew up with Amen. And someone made a correlation to that really ohm is the you know, India version or of Amen, which and that in them what’s interesting, even the sound vibration is pretty similar, right? There’s like that, Ahhh it’s kind of close. So I feel like that connection personally like if I say ohm, I feel like if I was inclined toward only saying amen that I feel like I can make that bridge build that bridge where I see the similarity. And so I don’t feel like that’s a conflict. But it sounds like sometimes you come across situations where people do feel that there’s a conflict there. How do you? How do you what? What kind of advice? Could you give someone that is feeling that conflict to maybe move past that or through it? Or maybe it’s not even our job to do that? Maybe we just say, awesome. I love what you do. And that’s great. And I’ll do what I do. And like you said, you give them the option. But do you ever try to coach people in the direction of seeing the universality of these sounds?  Yeah, I think people have to be open. And so and I also think we have to choose how we show up in the world. And we can’t be there. We can’t be everybody, like, we’re gonna attract who we attract. And I think if we’re honest, and genuine, and really make it a point of educating and not make it mandatory, like you can be here, you don’t have to do this. And if they’re, if they’re uncomfortable, then they can, you know, they have the choice to not show up. Exactly. And so we can’t be everything for everyone. And I think that we are going to attract a certain type of people, kind of people who are going to want to be with us for a particular reason. And so if if it brings their energy down to be in my class, and you know, 1000s of teachers kind of let go of that. It’s like, if I’ve made an effort to be in integrity to be genuine to explain what it is. And if it doesn’t line with their with them, then it doesn’t. Yes, then that’s okay. And some people come in and they go in and they come back. Yeah, good point. Yeah, Romy I love the fact that you kind of brought up another topic, and I was about ready to help us close. And so I’m curious, is there another idea thing, something that’s on your mind, something that you want to speak about?

Romy Toussaint  

I feel like we’ve covered it. You for what you do, and reaching out and speaking, it’s so wonderful, to speak about what we do. I really appreciate and so that it’s a privilege. And you’ve just asked really good questions. And I just feel like it’s a privilege to talk to you. And they’re what I love. And yeah, if this reaches one person, I’m just so happy. Thank you.

Todd McLaughlin  

I know, you know, I’m trying to break out of my comfort zone and just reach out to people that I’ve never met before. And you were so open and willing. And so it’s a really amazing experience. And I feel, I just feel really honored to have a chance to speak with you. So I appreciate it. I know you’re super busy. And thank you so much for taking time and everybody who’s listening, we love feedback. So if you want to send Romy a message or if you want to send me a message, you’ll see all the links down below. And hopefully we can connect in real time Romy in the future, and if you’re ever in town with I’d love to have you here to the studio. So I look forward to having more conversations down the road.

Romy Toussaint  

I love that I know, I just thought of one more thing. Oh, please, good. No. But in speaking with you, even though I’m sharing my life in my story, I think what you do as a as someone who asked questions, and as a podcaster even as I’m speaking with you and figuring things out, I’m getting an insight, I’m getting an insight on my path and how it shaped me. And I’m also thinking about ideas for the future. So I think what you do is super helpful, and I just want to appreciate you for helping me to see me like you helped me to see me as I’m speaking I’ve seen me. So I really appreciate that.

Todd McLaughlin  

Awesome. Romy Thank you.

Romy Toussaint  

Thank you so much. Be well.

Todd McLaughlin  

All right. Take care. Bye bye. All right.  I hope you enjoyed that conversation. Romy is amazing. I really can’t wait to meet her in person and I really enjoyed her enthusiasm and optimism and I hope you feel the same. Remember you can visit her at Romyoga.com. And if you guys would like to practice some live stream yoga, she has some offerings on her website. You can also you’ll see the link in the show the show notes below if you want to do live stream with us we offer two weeks free and you can join in we have Ashtanga classes, vinyasa classes, gentle yoga, yin yoga, there’s a lot on offer. Kids yoga teacher training is coming up as well on live stream and/or in studio. If you live local, we’d love to see you come on in. Alright you guys thanks so much. Until next time. Native yoga Toddcast is produced by myself. The theme you Music is dreamed up by Bryce Allen. If you liked this show, let me know. If there’s room for improvement. I want to hear that too. We are curious to know what you think and what you want more of, what I can improve. And if you have ideas for future guests or topics, please send us your thoughts to info@Nativeyogacenter.com. You can find us at nativeyogacenter.com. And hey, if you did like this episode, share it with your friends, rate it and review and join us next time