Brett Larkin is a versatile ballet dancer, yoga enthusiast, trainer and teacher with a heart of gold. She has over fifteen years of ballet and modern dance training from institutions such as Jose Mateo’s Ballet Theater of Boston, Jeanette Neill Dance Studio, and Interlochen Center for the Arts. She completed her 200-hour Yoga Alliance Certified Teacher Training with Alan Finger (founder of YogaWorks & ISHTA Yoga) in New York in 2009. Brett began teaching Yoga, integrating graceful and fluidic movements inspired from her exposure to ballet, at Zazen yoga studio in San Francisco, at Google HQ and privately as well.
Brett believes Yoga has a special currency that roots us in the present moment and allows us to reconcile all the different parts of ourselves. Sharing CureJoy’s innate belief on Natural Healing, Brett is on CureJoy’s esteemed Experts Panel. In a one-on-one with Brett recently, CureJoy managed to get her perspective on how Yoga can increase our awareness and appreciation of everything around us.
Q1: Brett, do you feel there is a single defining philosophy behind your energy, regaling such varied and impressive interests from ballet, yoga, wellness, entrepreneurship, emerging technologies,….?
Wow – what a great question. I don’t have a single defining philosophy, but a big theme for me in all my activities has been the journey inward. The idea that all our activities, relationships and undertakings are a means to bring us closer to ourselves. So there’s really no “wrong direction.” Everything’s just the direction in. Like an onion that peels off layers-and-layers.
This is why getting older is fun. We get closer to ourselves. Know ourselves better. In this sense, we’re all entrepreneurs, iterating on the ultimate plan – the plan where our thoughts and actions are completely aligned and completely unique to us. When viewed from this perspective, everything is a learning opportunity. Everything is bringing us home, home to ourselves.
Yoga is one of our most powerful tools – a compass – on this journey.
Q2: Is “self love” a profound expression for ethereal happiness, and in staying in perfect harmony with the universe?
For me self-love is finding more space in the body and more space between the thoughts (and often, disidentifying with thoughts, because your thoughts aren’t you). I often tell students to image themselves as a balloon and to fill themselves up with their breath. This allows them to find tight spots they might have not been aware of, but it also brings them into a relationship with their breath, and therefore themselves.
We need to be in a relationship with ourselves, first and foremost. The biggest gift we can all give the world is to do our practice (my twitter handle is @doyourpractice), whether it’s yoga, tai-chi, running or taking a nap. Do what gets you grounded and closer to self-love so you can be tranquil and positive no matter what comes up in your day.
Q3: Can you please educate us on the various courses you offer people seeking connectedness with their mind, body, soul and the universe?
Yes! I have lots of free meditation videos and yoga videos, as well as a video course called “7 Steps to a Life Long Yoga Practice You’ll Love.” This course is great for beginners or anyone wanting to develop a truly personal practice, even if attending studio classes. There are so many styles of yoga to explore. I often would get asked by people how to begin, or which style to try first. This is all outlined in the course via quick, informational videos so people quickly get a sense of each style, how to assess if it fits their goals and personality, and steps on how to prepare for going to that type of class.
I also detail a lot of basic alignment (which is never broken down and deeply explained in studio classes) so students can really understand what they’re supposed to be doing when they go to class, instead of just trying to follow along.
The course also teaches about modifications and how to use props, which is the best way to personalize your practice and avoid injury.
I’m also creating two additional online courses which will be available this summer.
Q4: When students come to you for yoga and/or meditation courses, what disparity have you encountered, between what they felt they were missing, to what they actually were?
I think people tend to think that they’re “missing” the point of meditation or doing it “wrong” because they’re constantly thinking so many thoughts. There are many schools of thought and techniques to teaching meditation, but the only thing that worked for me in this instance was to work *with* the thoughts. I’d let them all come up and just keep sitting.
When you live in the modern world, it’s impossible to expect that you’re going to be able to sit down and turn everything off right away. When I sit and all the thoughts come up, I just let my mind move with them…it’s like taking out the trash or passing through a kind of gateway or introduction chapter – it’s just a necessary precursor.
If you just categorize and name the thoughts as they arise, get objective with them, maybe even jot some to-do items down if it helps, you’ll gradually get to the second layer, where your mind chatter is running out of “urgent stuff” and that’s where it starts to get interesting. You’re able to notice the breath more, the space between the thoughts more. That’s your way out. But I could never get there unless I let the thoughts run their course for a few minutes or more at the beginning.
I share this because many students just get angry that they’re having thoughts and aren’t “doing it right yet” or “thinking about nothing yet.” So I like to share that it can be helpful to just let the mind process what it wants to process first, and go through the thoughts instead of trying to immediately get around them. Work with yourself instead of getting frustrated at yourself.
Q5: If there was one principle that you would want the young generation to follow, get inspired, and lock it deep within, what would that be?
Listen to yourself. Trust you gut. Respect your instincts. This means removing stimulation, getting still and connecting with yourself, your “true self” or “higher self.” This kind of centering is usually never taught as part of a traditional education, and also rarely taught in families. This is why developing a highly personalized yoga or meditation practice that works best for you can change your life. Every path in life has obstacles and challenges, so there no way to pick “right.” But if you listen and know yourself, you can at least pick the path you *want* to really be on. And that’s the most fun.
Brett Larkin Can be reached at – www.brettlarkin.com