There are many cultures where women are raised as powerless entities and most often denied their basic human rights. Today, in our Livin’ Life The Yoga Way – Interview Series, we present story of one such woman, Kahshanna Evans, who broke the suffocating cocoon and realized her true colors with the help of yoga. In her journey, she was mentored by different kinds of yoga teachers, many of them were not appreciative of her personality. In spite of all this, she managed to learn the true meaning and form of yoga – unapologetic acceptance of self.
Kahshanna Evans is the founder of Kissing Lions Public Relations and aims to bring skills she developed working for over a decade in fashion, wellness and both sides of the camera for film & television to her approach to publicity and professionalism. The years preceding the completion her public relations certificate program were spent researching healing and wellness.
- This one is cliched but tell us how yoga has transformed you and your life?
- What are your views on yoga teachers who constantly preach that pain is good and one should push more?
- You mentioned rising above from the gender issues and accepting yourself. Enlighten us more on this. Was being born in woman’s form restricting you in some way? What role did yoga play here?
- How has your experience been with different yoga teachers? What should one look for in the right yoga teacher?
- Tell us something about your yoga practice.
- So, apart from staying patient while looking for the right yoga teacher, what would you further advice our readers?
This one is cliched but tell us how yoga has transformed you and your life?
Kahshanna: Yoga has been instrumental in helping me align breath work with my physical body. This alignment enables me to identify and reduce anxiety and to allow my focus to be on my overall health and well being including my emotional life and sense of peace. It inspired me to understand the meaning of why we do Yoga which I have integrated into wellness work I have studied to include non-plant medicine Shamanic healing traditions, Voice Dialogue, Reiki and Intuitive Coaching. The respect for the female form helped me celebrate my gender and persona which was a great leap from gender and emotional guilt from the conservative religions I was surrounded by as a youth.
What are your views on yoga teachers who constantly preach that pain is good and one should push more?
Kahshanna: If you stumble upon a Yoga teacher who has turned the practice into an Olympic competitive sport, kindly remember 2 things:
- Although it may be impressive this is not Yoga, and
- Find a Yoga teacher who feels like a right fit
Breathe wherever you go, whenever you remember; that is Yoga.
You mentioned rising above from the gender issues and accepting yourself. Enlighten us more on this. Was being born in woman’s form restricting you in some way? What role did yoga play here?
Kahshanna: Studying overall well being and yoga has immensely helped me celebrate ‘being in my skin’ which is quite a contrast to some of the guilt based and unhealthy messaging of the conservative religion I grew up with. The entire practice of that religion, which I no longer participate, seemed to promote powerless females and damned sexuality. This over focus on making the physical body seem to be a vessel that was forever in need of redemption was infuriating – even as a 4th grader I understood the beliefs were rigid, not true and just plain unhealthy.
By being in a room of other beings dedicated to feeling at Home in their skin, breathing together, moving together in a safe, guided spiritual, emotional, physical practice helped me remember why being a woman is beautiful; moving is beautiful; learning to again trust myself and others to not judge me for needing to feel free and safe and beautiful was deeply reassuring.
Here Kahshanna lets out an important insight on what yoga truly means – to be true to yourself, forgiveness, living in present and freeing yourself. Simultaneously, she highlights the importance of a yoga teacher too. She believes that finding the right yoga teacher takes time and is something worth exploring. She adds that everyone has different personal and physical needs and hence, we may find a yoga teacher more receptive to these needs than the rest of the bunch. Its all about finding one on whom you can rely upon. And for that she advises, asking questions about the teacher, spending some time observing his/her teaching style to see if it truly resonates with you.
How has your experience been with different yoga teachers? What should one look for in the right yoga teacher?
Kahshanna: One memorable incident was a 6:30 am class I used to take. It was a way I treated myself…to slowly wake up, with ease and love and be gentle with myself. There were two yoga studio owners who would rotate as teachers for that class, each covering for the other as they had a toddler. My experiences with the female teacher were more inspiring. She was gentle and understood yoga. She encouraged, pushed but also reassured people not to push too much. Her husband was quite the opposite.
His core practice seemed to based on pushing. I found him somewhat mean and also disconnected with what would potentially inspire his clients to take a 6:30 am class. He was in exceptional shape with incredible command of his body. At one point he guided the class to a headstand without much warm up. He spouted a passive aggressive jab meant for me, claiming anyone not trying this moment is being lazy. I had tried it momentarily and felt a hot, sharp pain in my neck and stopped immediately. I was the only one at that moment who wasn’t attempting the head stand. Clearly he didn’t care about the pain I felt. He already had his mind made up about me. This is the example of a well meaning but toxic teacher.
Yoga teachers should always get a feel for who the beginners are and who has injuries or are otherwise feeling there is a certain area that they should be careful about.
Also, I had a female yoga guru who used to tell women in the class that it’s not healthy to not have meat on our bodies and further slandered skinny women. I was naturally slim and was born the way I am. She picked me out, clearly disgusted that I was someone she imagined was starving myself for any myriad of reasons anyone would feel compelled to do that.
A yoga teacher should be a thought leader on health always driven by overall well being. Ridicule is simply not an effective way to show concern, to educate or to perpetuate the solution rather than driving more of a divide. Classes with that teacher no longer felt like a safe place for me.
Tell us something about your yoga practice.
Kahshanna: Right now it is a very cold winter in New York. I would prefer to go to yoga several times per week but it is an extremely cold and stormy winter in New York and I also need to budget in the right membership for myself. I prefer practicing in a class environment. I have had wonderful experiences taking outdoor yoga in Runyan Canyon in Los Angeles working closely with the earth is a real treat. I slept well and deep and had beautiful, clear dreams.
So, apart from staying patient while looking for the right yoga teacher, what would you further advice our readers?
Kahshanna: Be who you are. When you are ready to step into your own greatness you won’t need to prove it or wear a certain color or clothing for the approval of your peers and colleagues. This means a master course from Life about trusting yourself and trusting the serendipities that seem to be arriving in support of your dreams and vision for your life. Kick the ‘rules’ when it feels right, but remember certain rebellion is another form of distraction from your greatness.
Choose between educating oppressors or simply dancing a dark dance in retaliation and deeply understand the mastery involved in not accepting an unspoken or spoken negative invitation off of your path. Cry when you need to, it cleans our hearts and souls and helps us to remember we are human. Hug and hold when you can and try to find the balance of clutching and rigid grasps that don’t allow others to feel free and invited.
Privileged should try to sensitize themselves about people who did not have equal opportunity; to the contrary those born without equal opportunity rise, shine, believe in miracles and perpetuate the solution. Forgive yourself in advance, most of this takes a lifetime.
Kahshanna Evans has researched varied modalities of overall wellness for the passed decade, all of which speak to a universal language of reverence for nature, sacred communication and overall well being. An avid storytelling enthusiast, she has been published as an author in My Angel Diary 2014 (Hay House UK), Ohm Magazine, NYC Pulse and Complete Balance. You can follow her on twitter @Kahshanna.