Yoga instructor and professional coach Shawna Emerick talks about how moving to New York helped her discover how to pursue the calling she’s had since childhood.
Tell me how you got started. When I was in high school, people seemed to know what they wanted to do with their lives. All I knew is that I wanted to help people “create happy, healthy, and confident lives”, and that is exactly how I wrote it in my journal all those years ago! I didn’t know how I was going to do this, I just knew it was how I wanted to use my life (its purpose you could say). I thought my dancing, and creating dance that carried emotions, was going to be the way, but, as you will find out later, something else came along and called me to do more!
What interests you most about what you’re doing now? What interests me most about what I do now is the amazing dialogue that gets shared! After finishing my degree in dance, I moved to New York City for the challenge it gave me. I found amazing dance, did amazing dance-related things and started my own dance company, Vital Dance. But, NYC also offered me Yoga! Now, ten years later, I teach yoga, offer Thai Yoga Bodywork, practice Reiki, and am a Certified Professional Coach (www.ShawnaShakti.com). All of these things, along with retreats and workshops that I do, have offered time and safe space for people to open up, to express their hearts, to shed their tears, and to ‘come home’ to themselves in order to find peace and the ability to then share it to the world! I have been brought to tears by people’s willingness to become vulnerable, to be deeply loving, to feel fully their anger, and to safely express it without holding back. Their work has offered me the opportunity to progress within myself, and to cultivate deeper understanding and awareness. All of these things just floor me, interest me to the point where I will go and seek more information, cultivate new ideas, question my own beliefs. Life is so fascinating and precious.
What’s been your biggest accomplishment? Well, at the age of 33, I feel my biggest accomplishment thus far has been believing in myself enough to follow what I finally felt was a calling. I had only experienced one week of this thing called ‘yoga’ in my third year of college, never forgot the feeling it gave me, but didn’t have availability to it again until I moved to NYC a year and a half later. When I started taking yoga in the city, I finally felt “This is how I can bring humor, movement, Spirituality, and healthful living, together for people”! I never thought I would teach anything in my life, but this wasn’t something that I was ‘teaching’ per se, it was something I could guide people in, and then they could do with it what they wanted, with their own authentic voice, sort of “make it theirs”. Giving options and ideas, both physically and spiritually, and letting them cultivate the relationships within themselves and to the world that felt loving, peaceful, and balanced, for them.
Biggest challenge? I feel that my biggest challenge is the same as my biggest accomplishment, only, it is the continual belief in myself that I can be one of many who inspires people. If I don’t believe in myself, then, I stay small, and that serves no one. It’s not all about me anyway, it’s about me, and you, and us, and everyone!
Who or what inspires you? People inspire me. Sounds like a cliché answer, but it’s true. Other people’s stories have always inspired me and fueled my own life. And, the Divine. I am constantly inspired by all the Divine shows, whether it’s in nature, in other people, in myself, in my dog Astro, or wherever; the Divine is great and I am grateful to be able to see and be a part of it all. I would also not be giving a full answer if I did not give a shout out to my family, dad, mom, and sis, grandpa E, grandma E, and grandpa and grandma H, and all my relatives, and my fiancé, Geoffrey, who uses Math as a Social Justice and Equality platform, and my dear friends, students, and ‘Cultivating Sacred Activism’ family who I had the honor to travel with to Malawi this year and serve and BE with Kwithu C.B.O. and its kids, each of those kids inspired me!
Why is peace sexy to you? Peace is sexy because it takes courage to be peaceful and allow peace into you. Peace is sexy because it’s just un-sexy to be anything else. Peace is sexy because it’s bold! Peace is sexy because sometimes it’s not easy to be carrying peace within you when there is no peace around you. Peace is sexy because it offers freedom and to be so free is sexy because it leads to creative expression!
What does “Peace is Sexy” evoke for you? “Peace is Sexy” evokes a sort of healthy in-your-face realism to the worlds ‘troubles’. It offers a way to see things in new ways so that people can create better understandings around topics that are foreign to them, and this knowledge creates peace, support, and awareness. “Peace is Sexy” evokes the dialogue that interests me in this world; so that lasting change, transformation, and shifts in consciousness towards equality can become the new reality!
What is a simple thing you do to create peace? To create peace, I try to see all angles of the situation, of peoples view points, and of the moment. Basically, I try to keep always aware of the moment as best I can. I don’t always succeed, but, to create peace, I try to be my best authentic self each day (see the next question).
What is something you do everyday? Try to be my authentic self and stay truthful. Something else I do everyday is laugh, brush my teeth at least twice, and look up at the sky at least once!
How would you like Peace is Sexy to make a difference in what you are up to? I am not completely sure. I think it is doing a good job with what it is right now. Perhaps creating a community board somehow thru the website so that we can all connect even more, especially with those who are more close to us. Perhaps creating satellite groups of Peace is Sexy in every city could be interesting?!!
Where would you like to see your passion go in the next 10 years? 20 years? 100 years? If I live 100 more years, that would make me 133, I hope my passion has served me and the world to the point of World Peace with healthy and happy people; yes, some people still hold that dream to be possible, despite the state of the world today. I hope my passion goes towards continually educating myself in my fields of study and into new ones that interest me over the next 10 to 20 years.
Is there anything else you want to tell us? Going thru these questions was wonderful. It re-ignited my beliefs, helped me become succinct in what I want to share, and kicked up those wonderful emotions of love.