Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 02/08/2020 –
Share your upbringing.
I was raised as an only child in an interesting household. My father was a pot-smoking, alcoholic hippie who schlepped me to rock n’ roll shows and my mother was a conservative Midwest nurse who made me go to church, horseback ride and sing in the school choir. I was born in LA but relocated back to Chicago in my teens so I could experience my family roots. My parents taught me about loyalty and individualism and instilled in me that through commitment I could become anything I wanted to be. I excelled in everything creative I did in school – music, theatre, art, radio and started working at 13, using the money I saved to buy a car and drive to LA on my summer breaks to intern in the music industry.
When did you discover the love of yoga? What is it about yoga that moves your soul?
My father died suddenly and tragically when I was transitioning from High School to college. His death left me paralyzed with fear and anxiety. I suffered panic attacks that left me hospitalized and could barely leave my house. I went from this outgoing young girl to a recluse. Desperate to feel a sense of safety, I dived into religion and became a Catholic at 18. However, the panic attacks didn’t ease up so at the urging of a friend I tried yoga. In the first class, we practiced a couple of breathing exercises that made me feel a sense of ease and calm. For the first time since my father’s death, I felt in control of my body and mind again and realized that yoga held many tools for self-healthy and self-improvement. I was hooked immediately.
You are well-known for your strong, creative, and educational vinyasa flow classes. Take us through the process.
It starts with an emotional reaction to something or a visual that triggers movement in my arms first then the rest of the shapes start to come through. A great example would be my recent retreat to Cabo, I was entranced watching one of my students swim through the water. It triggered me to think about the ebb and flow of life and how blockages in our mind/body hold us back from swimming upstream and that the only way to get through the stagnation is to use momentum to forge ahead. I immediately started to see these swirling circling arms that clapped and these big wave like movements from the top of the mat to the back. I add in sound effects and interesting movement patterns like the ripple of a wave to get people to use their body in a new and interesting way. Then I syncopate then entire experience to the best of music so it’s completely synchronized from beginning to end. The incredible thing is seeing the visual in my head come to life in a class full of people. It’s beyond words to see everyone moving in perfect unison. It’s literally like watching an indigenous tribe dancing. Breathtaking!
What does energy mean to you?
The sensations you’re able to instinctively generate and emanate to the world around you. People can viscerally sense your Energy before you even speak because it’s radiating around us at any time. It’s intangible but constantly moving and changing from the current of emotions swarming inside you. I definitely think your mood is an interpretation of your environment at any given moment and directly impacts the energy you send out. Anyone working with energy can read energy and direct and change it for the better.
How do your core values translate into your yoga?
My parents raised me to accept everyone. They had huge hearts and raised me to have compassion and kindness for all. When you come to my class it’s a huge melting pot of people from all over the world, at all physical levels communing together to explore our birthright which is movement. We were each born into these bodies and under our own unique circumstances and experiences to explore movement as a way to feel free and alive. My values are above all things: acceptance for it all.
What will people notice first about you?
My energy for sure. Since I was a very little girl, I remember people coming up to my parents and myself saying I had special powers, aura, psychic abilities that I radiated on a different level. For years, I toned it down to fit in and get by but my energy and presence is the first thing people comment on when I walk into a room.
You have worked with some of Hollywood’s Elite. Can you share a few experiences?
For most celebrities or pro athletes, the spotlight can be draining because of the nonstop public speaking and performance. It takes a lot of work to be on top and there is so much adrenaline racing through you prior to and after a performance or game. For these individuals, it can be hard to figure out how to calm down from the adrenaline rush. Oftentimes I’m called in when the coping skills put in place have become unhealthy habits they want to get rid of. What I’ve really been able to do is curate new meditations and yoga practices that are unique to my client’s needs that give them mindful tools and rituals to put into place for when their adrenaline is at its peak. Top performance can only happen if we are at our optimal well-being so creating healthy habits to support this is necessary for longevity. I’ve been known to come up with routines minutes before someone steps on stage or on the field. And I love being able to help people perform to their maximum potential. It’s a huge honor!
What is your mantra?
Every morning I wake up and repeat: I am grateful to have made it to another day, what is it I need to say.
Please share trends in the industry.
Trends are making yoga all about fitness and forgoing the heart language that is such a huge part of self-expression. We have to remember as yoga teachers that we are powerful agents of change when we tap people into their hearts and tap into self-love. I hope we can continue to fuse that into the practice and bring that into healthcare. What Medicine needs right now are healers. People who are going to listen, support and supply patients with the tools they need to take responsibility for their own well-being and treatment. Imagine how powerful we would be if everyone actually felt taken care of!
On Instagram, I’m @Emilieperzyoga.