Seattle Yoga News is on a mission to find and highlight all of the hidden, and maybe not so hidden, gems in our yoga community and beyond. We want you to learn about their experiences and perspectives, but also a bit more about their personalities, so we have a few fun questions for them. This week’s spotlight is turned towards Betsy Shilling.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A YOGA TEACHER?

Betsy-Shilling

Betsy Shilling:

In junior high I read a quote that seemed important so I wrote it on my mirror in brown lip liner (it was the 90’s).
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs, but ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs are people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman
Growing up I felt most alive dancing and practicing martial arts (including meditation, mantra, and pranayama). This segued into teaching martial arts and I realized that what really makes me come alive is helping people access their strength and freedom. I went on to study and teach psychology, meditation, and women’s health, and meanwhile, stumbled into Cosetta Romani’s yoga class.
I became a devotee, followed her on retreat, and then it hit me. It wasn’t so much of an “Aha” moment as a “Duh” moment because every fiber of my being already knew that the healing, growth and profound joy that I found in yoga (and in similar practices my entire life) was too great of a gift not to share. Clearly I wouldn’t live my fullest in a lab or with a PhD — that life belongs to someone else. When I let go of my ego-driven pursuits to honor the higher standard of my soul, all dissonance disappeared and joyful-freedom surfaced. As a yoga teacher and therapist, I am doing what makes me shine brightest while serving the world in the fullest way I can.

WHAT IS ONE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU ALWAYS GIVE YOUR STUDENTS?

Betsy-Shilling

Betsy Shilling:

Both of these come up a lot:
Why so serious? Joy is your birthright and there is limitless space for it in your yoga practice! It is totally possible to work hard and walk through the fire while being playful, light and laughing at ourselves! Exhale, smile and remember that you are perfectly imperfect and exactly as you are meant to be in this moment.
Why keep Yoga small and separate when its meant to nurture and grow your wholeness?
Why have just the appetizer when you could have an amazing 5-course feast for the same price? Open yourself to the fullness of your practice seeking the connections between “on your mat” and “in your life”, “in your body” and “in your mind” and every bit of you will thrive off its depth and substance.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR YOGA PHILOSOPHY?

Betsy-Shilling

Betsy Shilling:

My greatest teacher is the fluid nature of embodied presence blurring the boundary where body meets infinity. Being yoga is a choice to live in conscious union with all of life: good and bad, form and formless. Yoga reminds us of the oneness of the physical and subtle body, of the microcosm and the macrocosm, of “on the mat” and “off the mat”. As within so without and as above so below. I give equal attention to the spiritual, mental and physical, what’s gained, lost and unchanged, and the easy, hard and moderate.
This brings me to one of my favorite things about yoga in our instant-gratification culture — yoga has no “easy button”. We want the familiar and feel-good moments but big transformation happens through steady effort, facing our demons and walking through the fire of the gritty, sweating, scary and humbling (the fire is needed to burn away all the crap: aka, tapas). Students call me “sneaky yogi” and “the yoga ninja” because just as they relax into sweetness and think “Ah, this is nice”, I surprise them and crank-up the heat. Being sneaky is not my intention, but rather to provide a whole yoga experience with enough stress (it’s not always bad!) to initiate refinement of coal into diamonds. Through challenge and aversion — like when we fall, fart, or fail (I’ve done all 3 more than once!) — we realize that we are bigger than our fear and we can catch a glimpse of our sparkly Divine Nature shining through the cracks in our ego’s wall. Sorry, not sorry! It’s a gift to remember that we are fundamentally sacred!

IF YOU COULD PRACTICE WITH ANYONE DEAD OR ALIVE, WHO WOULD THAT BE AND WHY?

Betsy-Shilling

Betsy Shilling:

Kali — she’s a total badass, rides a tiger and inspires me to live my love powerfully! Like Kali, I’m a shameless cat lover (no joke, check my Instagram @betsyogini) so I’d really enjoy hanging with her tiger before and after class and snuggling-up in Savasana.

HOW LUCKY ARE YOU AND WHY?

Betsy-Shilling

Betsy Shilling:

So lucky and for far too many reasons to list! I live in awe and gratitude every day and am humbled by the Great Mystery that gives, takes and transforms.

IF YOU COULD BE AN ANIMAL, A PLANT OR AN INGREDIENT, WHICH ONE WOULD YOU BE AND WHY?

Betsy-Shilling

Betsy Shilling:

A dolphin (in a clean ocean and blissfully unaware of other dolphins in captivity)

WHAT IS YOUR LATEST FAVORITE THING ABOUT HUMANITY?

Betsy-Shilling

Betsy Shilling:

All beings are innately good, and with fully developed prefrontal lobes, grown-up humans are fully empowered with conscious choice. At any moment, each and every one can choose to live consciously, to love and to work toward manifesting their highest and brightest potential. We all have the capacity to know and do better!

Betsy Shilling’s Bio: “I’m a soul-adventurer and lover of life in all its forms. It is my passion and great joy to journey alongside you encouraging your growth and renewal in mind, body and soul. My job is to create a safe, inspiring and uplifting space for you to tune-in, experiment and take supported leaps of faith in the direction of your bliss. I offer private therapy sessions, group classes and special events locally and internationally specializing in Myofascial Release, Yoga Tune Up® Therapy and Prana Flow inspired Bhakti Vinyasa Yoga. I first began exploring the ancient healing arts as a child, studying and teaching martial arts. This led me to research and teach meditation, psychobiology, and women’s health and to an undergraduate focus in psychology. Today, my yoga practice is the fullest expression of my gifts and studies.
Yoga Alliance RYT 500, Yoga Alliance E-RYT 200, Yoga Tune Up® Teacher Certified.”


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