Our Yogi in the Community this week is an inspiring teacher who works with both youth and adults. Octavia and I intersect in so many ways given our passion and devotion to yoga and education so it is no surprise that our paths (and mats) have crossed. Octavia is an instructor at Atlanta Hot Yoga and works behind the scenes to bring internationally known yogi Maya Breuer to Georgia each year for the annual Yoga Retreat for Women of Color.
Hometown: From the south—I’m a southern girl.Born and raised in Gainesville, GA
Current Location: Atlanta, Georgia
How long have you been practicing yoga? I have been practicing for 8 years and teaching for 4 years now.
Why do you practice yoga?
I found yoga at the end of a long dark tunnel in my life, in that sense then, I consider this practice my light…Yoga helps me ground; to get firmly anchored in my body, in what’s real, and what’s true. It also beckons me to expand, to reach high. For years I only practiced physically demanding and strength building styles of yoga like Vinyasa, Power, or Hot because I love sweat and each “sweat” felt like a sloughing off of an old layer. Each practice I envisioned that I was building up my essence, what’s at the core, what’s authentic behind the layers. Sensing that there was something more, I began to mediate daily. Sitting in meditation for me is like plugging into something way bigger than myself (I call it the universal outlet.) It was then that I experienced a deep and penetrating stillness in mind, body, heart, and spirit. So, that is the long answer. I practice yoga to plug in, to Big stillness and quiet even in movement.
How do you notice yoga throughout your life? One of my teachers, Maya Breuer always says “breathe and feel, that’s it, just breathe and feel.” Sense. My sense of smell, touch, taste, hearing, seeing- my experience of so much: walking barefoot in the grass, the pulse of drum beats, purple edges of the horizon, listening to others (what they are saying and not saying), biting into the sweet rawness of new peaches has become markedly more profound. But it’s not just a greater awareness of the external world, but a far deeper awareness of what is happening inside me.
I once took a class with Krishna Kaur and she said something that resonated deeply with me, “yoga is about finding your truth and being able to be with it”. My reverence for the this practice constantly beckons me to live from a place of compassionate truth, to act from a place of integrity, to live in authenticity, openness, and humility. And where I fall short of that: I am less reactive, and more reflective.
I feel connected to my innate strength and softness in body.
My mind is not afraid to defer to my heart, because the most obvious shift over the past 8 years has been this: yoga challenges me to live in love, more.