I recently sat down with talented Teacher, Healer, Visionary, Tai Hubbert, to find out more about what drives her creativity. Tai shares from her heart on how you can stand behind your own, true voice. Meet her at upcoming yoga conferences and check out her local classes at Yogalife Queen Anne and Greenlake.
How long have you been a professional Yoga and Meditation teacher?
I’ve been a student of yoga since 2003, and teaching yoga & meditation since 2011.
Where has yoga taken you?
While yoga has been the primary foundation of my spiritual path, so to speak, it’s been a long and winding road in which I’ve “followed the scent” to wisdom traditions and healing modalities that served my integrated evolution and awakening. Specific to yoga, however, my practice began with asana and blossomed over the years to more fully embody the tantric path. So, I would say that yoga has taken me into the depths of all that is – into the intimacy of the full spectrum of my Being. Yoga has taken me to a place of greater equanimity and lightness of being. A place of greater faith, fearlessness, and love.
What are the 3 most pivotal occasions in your career both in and outside of Yoga?
- For over a decade (late teens to late 20’s), I experienced chronic pain – debilitating headaches that severely reduced my quality of life. I suppose I’ve walked the path of the wounded healer, but this life experience was the catalyst for massive change and the fuel for my fire to reclaim LIFE.
- In 2009, I left my full-time work in the advertising/marketing industry to reset my life compass. I budgeted to take one year off and follow my heart – which led me to a zen monastery, yogic ashram, and several months in New Zealand – living on the land. It was during this time that I deepened my formal training in yoga, shamanism, and even completed a certificate in Permaculture Design.
- Facilitating my first integrated retreat was also a pivotal point in my career. I had the vision of creating an integrated experience that was a reflection of my path, practice, and passion – something totally unique to my gifts – and the process of having the vision and then making it happen was a significant turning point. As a true Sagitarius, I am a dreamer and visionary with high ideals, so the tendency is for ideas to stay in the ether. Turning intention into action felt incredibly rewarding and liberating.
What do you offer through Sword&Lotus?
Sword&Lotus is the umbrella for my teaching practice, which includes weekly yoga classes in Seattle, breathwork ceremonies, and integrated workshops & retreats (meditation, yoga, shamanism/ritual, and breathwork). My intention as a teacher and facilitator is to offer a strong container and framework for people to enliven their connection with their “whole self” – coming to know the essence of source consciousness and their own soul’s wisdom, while compassionately embracing their humanity. My mantra is to “teach a man to fish instead of giving him a fish,” and I do my best to offer people the tools and reflection to remember that they are the Creators of the life they experience and hold limitless potential for transformation.
What do you see as the relationship between Yoga and Storytelling?
Yoga and storytelling invite us to ask questions and engage life with curiosity. The tantric tales (and many stories from the great wisdom traditions) are so profoundly beautiful in their ability to invite reflection and inspiration, and this helps us grow as integrated, conscious beings. We see aspects of ourselves reflected in all characters of the story, and find solace in better understanding the complexities and polarities of the human experience.
One of the five niyamas in the 8-limbed path is Svadhyaya – or “self-study” – and storytelling is one of the greatest tools I know for illuminating our blind spots and supporting our ability to see things from all angles – not just one particular vantage point.
In the shamanic traditions (and yoga), it’s taught that dreaming and visioning is the art of creating a new reality – for all matter begins in thought and vibration. As such, I also feel that as a humanity, we must learn to tell new stories and dream new dreams, as they are pathway to creating a new reality that reflects the abundance, creativity, and love of Source.
What brought you into the study and practice of Shamanism?
My first exposure to shamanism was at a workshop at the Theosophical Society of Seattle, where a practitioner facilitated some group practices that blew my mind. Although yoga and shamanism both have theoretical structures, they offer frameworks for direct experience. There is nothing to believe or an intermediary between you and Knowledge – just the results of your own personal experience. As such, shamanism opened a whole world for me in terms of relating to the vastness of the cosmos in very tangible and inspiring ways. Yoga teaches that the same lifeforce animates all life, but shamanism was my path to a real intimate understanding of this concept. Through the shamanic framework, I cultivated a more intimate relationship with the Hindu deities, for example, or even how to more richly connect with the herbal tea I drink to support my immune system (connecting to the energetic signature of that plant “spirit”). Yoga & shamanism have been beautiful compliments in my experience, and together, have offered such richness and depth of texture in my life.
How important is ceremony for the Urban Yogi?
The power of ritual and ceremony should not be overlooked – especially for the modern yogi! Much of our lives these days is spent running around, and as a result, it’s critical to set aside time to slow down and connect to self & spirit with intention. This could be anything from a daily journaling ritual where you spend 10 minutes in reflection, or participating in a seasonal or annual ceremony. These are times to listen, recalibrate, remember, and empower, and in honoring ourselves in this way, we tap into a deep source of nourishment and strengthen our trust in divine perfection. Ceremony is an opportunity to bring greater depth to your practice, and to your life.
What can people expect from your “Alchemy of Breath” workshop at Yogalife?
For most, this workshop will be unlike anything they have experienced. While traditional pranayama practices are great tools to have under one’s belt, I will be facilitating an experience of unrestricted, deep breathing – which opens the possibility for more expanded states of consciousness – a state in which profound healing, insight, and empowerment can occur. It is an incredible opportunity for yogis to fully grasp the power of the breath, and to surrender to the intelligence of one’s Being. The experience itself will be unique to each individual, but it’s possible that someone might experience deep emotional release (such as grief), or ecstatic bliss, or perhaps a state of clarity and sweet contentment. This process will be held in a ceremonial container and can be intense, so it is best suited for those seeking a deep dive – not just a casual drop-in.
What makes a student successful?
I would encourage all students of yoga (and of life!) to consider the deepest calling of their heart and set an intention for all life decisions to support its realization. Our discipline in pursuing high ambitions has vanished amidst the incessant distraction of our lives and environment, so it takes some serious tapas to really commit to what’s important in your life, and make the necessary changes in your life (letting go of social commitments, certain relationships, etc.).
I see many students (and feel the temptation myself!) spend endless hours and dollars attending workshops, retreats, classes, etc. – and while development in that way is inspiring and important – I also observe a resistance and avoidance to just sitting in the silence of one’s own being and practice. To meditate and just stare at the wall, or come to the mat and allow one’s own practice and intelligence to express. This is the process of evolving from a student to a master. The temptation is to run around and gather things in the external world, but the real gift is cultivating the inner landscape, knowing that the external world will be a reflection of what you find there.
What does your daily practice consist of?
Meditation is the anchor to my daily practice. I rise early, drink a glass of water, and then sit for 30-60 minutes, and then again in the evening before bed. While most recommend an early morning asana practice before meditation, I prefer to do my asana & pranayama practice late morning, after I’ve had a small bite to eat and some time to digest. That just works best for my constitution & metabolism! My asana practice is more organic and cyclical than my meditation routine – I usually adjust it based on what I feel will best serve my body and growing edge. For example, if I observe challenge in my ability to manifest projects, I might emphasize a more root chakra based practice (on and off the mat). If I’m feeling a little lethargic, I might commit to a more flow-based practice. It helps me to set some time aside on Sunday to set a general plan and intention for the week, and I might dial in some specifics the night before. That way, I don’t have to think much before arriving on the mat – I set the intention and then just show up.
How do you channel your inner 5 year old?
My 5-year old is pretty spunky & rebellious, and my most recent path of channeling her is playing in an all-female rock band! We’re in the early stages of our formation, but I’d describe the sound as “post-punk.” We actually rotate instruments, but my 5-year old loves the drums and letting loose on vocals. Let’s just say the lyrics are not “OM Namah Shivaya!”
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