Last month marks one year since yoga teacher Sarah Clark left her longtime home of New York City for the laid-back California lifestyle. Arriving out West with just her yoga mat and a "good plan", this Zen Girl has already made her mark on the San Diego yoga scene. Sarah is fresh off of teaching a 4-week Summer Immersion called, "Living Yoga" and had the special privilege of assisting her mentor, Cyndi Lee at Yoga Journal Conference: San Diego.
She constantly amazes me with her beauty, grace and humility - and her strong dedication to always deepening her yoga practice - both physically and philosophically. I had a great time working with her on this project....I hope you enjoy her interview as much as I did!
4) What is your advice to people in overcoming fear and following their bliss? Any state of suffering-- fear, sadness, anger, etc. -- cannot be overcome by pretending it's not there. Or by allowing yourself to be utterly consumed by it. The yoga practice encourages us to become familiar with these states, to really feel them, in manageable doses. When we are experiencing the sensations and thoughts we call fear (or sadness, anger, etc.), we should try to do so with an attitude of friendliness towards ourselves (maitri) and compassion for our own suffering. Then, we can experience these states of fear within the context of being kind toward ourselves and toward the suffering itself - that enables a shift to occur. And that shift is just good old impermanence. We can experience how everything changes, even fear. My experience is that when I can sit equanimously with suffering, it eventually changes, and I eventually see something else in there.
You can try it in yoga poses that freak you out! Inversions are a good go-to! You might notice when you become afraid that your jaw tenses up, you get a whirling sensation in your tummy, your breath becomes choppy and shallow, your mind dashes into fantasies about embarrassingly crashing into the yogi next to you….But then your mindfulness practices encourage you to pause, and recognize that all of these experiences are simply sensations. They are just feelings in the physical body or thoughts that arise in the mind – they are not YOU! So when we can start to watch these sensations as they bubble up to the surface (thoughts are just another type of sensation in the Yogic view), then we start to put a little pause between the sensation we experience and how we respond. That pause is the chance to make a conscious choice rather than moving from a mindless habit - like we might do if we are utterly struck by irrational fear.