In this section, empowered women from around the world show us how they work to achieve their dreams and what it means to be a woman in today’s society.
Originally from Texas but settled in Hawaii many years ago, Courtney is a yoga instructor who dedicates her life to helping people connect with their body and breath. When she remembers the little girl she used to be before yoga, she says that her mind always made her believe that her thoughts and feelings were not important, but there was a change in her life that proved otherwise. By practicing yoga and learning to control her own thoughts, she realized how important it is to share ourselves with the world by being authentic and respectful of ourselves.
Coming to this realization and wisdom was a long journey for Courtney, who has traveled many parts of the world trying to find answers and adventure. Traveling was a journey that brought her to yoga, but yoga was a body and mind trip to a place that is much harder to get to know and explore: her inner spirit. Keep reading and learn the story of this woman of wise words.
Where are you from? How did your passion for yoga start?
Courtney: I’m originally from Texas, but I have lived in Los Angeles for many years after college, then New York City for a year. I moved to Oahu after I had been traveling for almost a year and didn’t want to go back to the “real world.” It was in Los Angeles that I went to my first yoga class at my gym. Because it was Los Angeles, the yoga teachers at the gym were top-notch and the seed about the importance and impact of yoga was planted. I practiced in New York City at a donation-based studio which inspired me to do my classes here as donation-based yoga. During my travels I spent a month practicing in India where I meditated for the first time and after that I was in London where I practiced at a studio for about two months until I made the move to Hawaii in 2007.
Where did you train to become an instructor? Which type of yoga do you teach?
Courtney: I mostly teach vinyasa yoga. I got my 200-hour yoga certification at Aloha Yoga Kula in Kailua. I got my 300-hour yoga certification from Andiappan Yoga in Chennai, India. I have also trained 100 hours with Nicki Doane in Maui. I have done training hours on the mainland with Tiffany Cruikshank and her program called Yoga Medicine. I completed a yoga nidra certification with Yogi Charu here on the island.
Which was the biggest struggle through your journey to becoming a yoga instructor?
Courtney: My biggest learning opportunity in my journey to becoming a yoga instructor was finding my own voice and owning it—to not try to be like anyone else other than my authentic self. It feels like sharing a bit of your heart and soul when teaching and I found that very intimidating because I was scared I’d say the wrong thing or that what I wanted to share was stupid or students wouldn’t relate. What I found was that it is authenticity that students connect to and appreciate most, and I hope that in some way my authenticity not only brings students back to my classes, but inspires them to be authentic in their own lives—even when it’s scary and lots of people are watching and potentially judging.
How did yoga help you in your everyday life?
Courtney: Yoga helps me mostly in my everyday life because of the mindset it has given me. The reminder to live in the present moment, to not attach to all the stories in my mind, to remember that things are always changing and I can be fluid with those changes rather than resist them.
What makes you keep teaching yoga every day?
Courtney: I continue to teach yoga every day because I know that it has so many benefits—physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. It is really special that I get to share this practice as my job.
Just reminding people to take slow, deep breaths can be a huge a-ha moment for people. Giving people the opportunity to explore their bodies via movement through the various poses can be a huge learning experience on all levels. and to encourage students to just sit and observe their thoughts without judgment might be something they’ve never done before and might be the kindest thing they’ve ever done for themselves. I don't take any of it lightly and I am always honored that people keep showing up to my classes because if they aren’t willing to show up and do the work, I wouldn't be needed.
How did Hawaii inspire you in your career?
Courtney: When I started teaching yoga almost 12 years ago I knew I wanted to teach outdoors in this magical setting that Hawaii offers. It was a no-brainer. I know if I was in Texas, or Los Angeles, or New York that outdoor yoga wouldn’t have crossed my mind. even though there’s elements of wind, bugs, or rain…I think it adds to the experience rather than detracts. It's a great metaphor for the unpredictable nature of life itself and how we adjust and adapt to whatever comes our way.
What would you advise your younger self?
Courtney: I would tell my younger self that my voice and my perspective matters. I never liked speaking in front of people growing up and never felt like my perspective mattered much. For all of us, our unique experiences give us our unique perspective….which is why it must be shared with the world. Another perspective like it will never exist, so it’s our obligation to share our truths and understandings and insights so that others might relate.
Which is your favorite item from our website? Why?
Courtney: the Larimar Blue Planet Ring is my favorite. I love the color of the stone itself and the different styles from chunky, bold rings, to more elegant and dainty ones. Larimar helps with communication and confidence, calming and harmonizing for the body and so these properties all fit extremely well with how I try to hold space when I teach yoga.
Get to know her more @yogaformyhomies.