Interview Series: Living Yoga off the mat with Tara Bliss
This is a new blog series that I am so excited to kick-off today. It is a reflection of how incredible women and yogis are taking the powerful and ancient principles of yoga off the mat and into their world.
One of my favourite phrases (and if you’ve been to a yoga class of mine you’ve probably heard me say this) is this – “Without the breath in yoga, you are simply making shapes”. And today, I live by that more than I ever have.
Yoga was the catalyst for my journey of self-discovery, inquiry and transformation. First on a physical level – healing and nourishing my body. Next on an emotional and mental level – reframing my perspective, shifting my mindset and bringing my being into balance. And finally, now, on an energetic level – working with the energetic body/ chakra system and cultivating a more feeling-based existence as I get to know my soul (and lead with it) more and more. And yet, all are still happening simultaneously and daily.
The vehicle for me, to dive into all of this, is the breath. The presence of the breath and its movement through every layer from the physical, right through to the emotional and energetic demonstrates how it’s a powerful facilitator of healing, transformation, insight and connection. And the breath, to me, is a daily reminder that I am both spirit and human.
As I sit in reflection and gratitude for this incredible, life changing practice that is yoga, I can’t even fathom how many lessons I’ve taken off my yoga mat and into my world.
Compassion, Contentment, Non-judgment, Presence, Non-violence, Discipline, Devotion.
Within the 8 limbs of Yoga, Asana (poses) is actually the third limb. In the West, the lessons that we gain on that mat are actually taught first. We have entered this journey of transformation and evolution via the body – and that works for us today in this modern world. Traditionally, however the asana (poses) came only after the moral and ethical codes (Yamas and Niyamas) were explored.
The lessons of Ahimsa (non-violence) Asteya (non-stealing), Satya (truthfulness) and Santosha (contentment), Svadhyaya (self-study) and Isvara Pranidhana (surrender to god) all feature in the first two limbs of the 8-fold path – The Yamas and Niyamas (check back in here soon, I’ll be breaking these down in detail on the blog). These are potent lessons that can carry you through life. Hand-holding, guiding and helping you navigate through sticky, troublesome moments.
This blog post series, which will feature wisdom-filled women who are also yogis, is designed to show how a deep transformation can come about through the devotional practice of yoga. These women will be sharing how yoga and its lessons have changed their life, off the mat – not simply from the asana but also the mental, emotional, spiritual and energetic learnings that unfold, almost without focused effort. That’s the beauty of yoga!
I am beyond thrilled to share these women and yoga with you. Whether you are a yogi or not these lessons are here for you to absorb, ponder and apply into your being and your way of being in this world!
To kick-off off this new series today we have Tara Bliss, from Such Different Skies – someone I truly adore and feel eternally grateful to now call a friend! I believe the universe has blessed me with a like-minded kindred soul every time Tara and I text, email or chat. I’m in awe of this 27 year bundle of wisdom, swagger and love. Like me, she is passionate about living a life aligned with soul. And as a Yogi you are going to promptly devour her insights both on and off the mat! I’m so excited for you to learn how Tara has taken the powerful practice of Yoga into her being.
Hello Tara! Please finish this sentence:
My yoga practice is… my medicine, my maintenance, my playground, my excuse to explore myself.
To me, yoga means.… dancing between two worlds: the form and the ethereal; the masculine and the feminine; the softness and the rigidity; the ease and the effort. Yoga is the force that dissolves those lines of separation.
My experience off/on the mat has… transformed my entire understanding of the world and how I operate in it. On my mat, I realise that any resistance, frustration or friction that arises within me doesn’t bubble up to the surface due to outside circumstances. When I’m on the mat, I can’t blame the traffic, or the weather, or my husband for misunderstanding me – there are no excuses. I have to take responsibility for the gunk that reveals itself, and most importantly, I have to decide to become an empowered enough woman to rise above and transcend the ego. This is the most humbling, profound and extraordinary journey I could ever hope for, and I’m often reduced to me tears that I was fortunate to find my way here.
The biggest shift/epiphany/moment of insight I’ve ever had during yoga was… to follow on from the last question, it’s been HUGE for me to understand viscerally – in my body – the concept of energy flowing where your awareness is going. The simple redirection of focus from my fatiguing muscles to the prickle of air that enters and leaves my nostrils is so powerful, so anchoring. We always have a choice in life on what we want to place our attention upon, and yoga is no exception.
What are the lessons you carry on a daily basis, off your mat?
I endeavour to:
:: Investigate struggle and discomfort with a light, curious mind.
:: Become a more self-referenced woman with each day, which means continually cutting the chord of comparison.
:: Celebrate, deepen and honour my breath.
Why are these important to you?
I’m a kinder, more present, more engaged person when I (literally) practice what I preach. As a coach and mentor, I have been in conversation with my clients for years now about all things personal growth, self-enquiry, soul evolution, joy, moving through blockages and limitations… but yoga… yoga has brought those teaching INTO my body through practice. Embodying the teachings of yoga off my mat, I feel, has brought an air of real conviction to me.
What yogic principle have you translated for yourself – what, how and why?
Ahimsa – non violence.
This played on my mind heavily as I began consciously and gratefully bringing meat back into my diet. ‘Yogis don’t eat meat’ was a mantra I heard on repeat within me, and to be honest, it was causing me a shit load of stress.
Until I decided that enough was enough. What good is the theory of Ahimsa if we’re berating ourselves all day and falling prey to the judgements that sound off with a boom inside our brains?
What good is Ahimsa if we can’t be compassionate with our choices?
What good is Ahimsa if we can’t heed the call of our bodies – whose wisdom is infinitely more truthful than that of our minds?
Yes, I am a yoga devotee, but I am also a fierce believer and advocate of self-love, and self love asks – first and foremost – that we be honest with ourselves.
I do my best to make thoughtful, present choices, and I also do my best to avoid swallowing pangs of guilt and self-judgement.
What does ‘Living Your Yoga’ mean to you?
I’ve only got one word for you right now lady, and I think it sums up my practice entirely: DEVOTION.
Tara Bliss is a spirit-stoked writer, mentor, yogini and inspirational speaker. She’s helped Party Girls find peace, been a lighthouse for Spirited seekers finding their way home to themselves, and even teamed up with her chef hubby to share radical, real food recipes with the world.
Her mission? To kick-start an avalanche of gutsy, fear-busting confidence and love (all with a side serve of swagger)! Think of her as your crystal-toting, skateboard-riding, raw-dessert-loving lumière, unveiling the path to peace and freedom, using fierce and curious vulnerability as her compass.
Incredible right? Not only are Tara’s words so insightful but she demonstrates so beautifully what YOGA can bring about in us. Truly… nothing has taught me more than time spent on my yoga mat. And it’s clear that Tara has also journeyed deep into herself through the practice of yoga.
Let’s give Tara some love below in the comments. And anything you’d love to add about Living Yoga Off The Mat, go for it!
Love + light,
P.s If there is someone you’d love to see featured in this series feel free to comment below with their name and blog and I’ll make it happen!
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