Teacher Feature: Valerie Costello

1. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOGA?

We often think of yoga as simply being the asana practice, or the poses and movement practice, however, it’s much more than that. It’s a lifestyle- a way of showing up for the world around you. Yoga gives you the capacity to see the world and the people within it with softer eyes and with greater compassion. It’s a practice that opens you up to the darkest parts of yourself and teaches you to not only accept those things about who you are but learn to embrace them, seeing them as all part of your own human experience.

 

2. HOW DID YOU FIND YOUR WAY TO YOGA?

I took my first yoga class as a junior in high school and was immediately captivated by the union of movement, breath, and the moments of quiet and stillness of the mind the practice provides. In college, my yoga practice became my lifeline. I spent much of those years feeling lost, trying to navigate my place in the world, and it was the moments that I stepped on my mat that brought me back to myself and cultivated a sense of belonging. It was that period of time that led me to my first yoga teacher training in 2005, and within the first day of that training, I knew the practice of yoga would be a consistent part of my life going forward. Looking back at these past 13 years, I’ve changed and evolved greatly, but my yoga practice has remained constant and still cultivates a sense of coming back to myself.

3. WHO IS YOUR PRIMARY TEACHER RIGHT NOW?

I draw inspiration from many teachers, but the ones that I have studied with the most include Erin Ehlers of Yoga on the Hill in Kittery, Maine, and Josh Summers through his modules of the Summers School of Yin Yoga. I also often seek mentorship from Terry Cockburn of Freeport Yoga Company.

4. WHAT INSPIRES YOU TO KEEP TEACHING?

I have been teaching yoga for 13 years, and it is the students I’ve had the opportunity to teach that inspire me to keep teaching. The connections made with others whether they are for a very brief moment or ones that last years are truly what it’s all about for me. It also helps that I have a very curious nature, and am always seeking out ways to look at things a little bit differently.

5. WHAT IS YOUR PRACTICE LIKE OFF THE MAT? HOW WOULD YOU SAY YOU LIVE YOUR YOGA?

Off the mat, my practice is a consistent seeking of balance and a practice of patience. I am notorious for overscheduling myself, and for years busy has been my normal way of being. In the last year, I’ve really started to analyze the busy badge of honor I’ve been wearing so proudly for so long, and have started to step away from that way of life. It has been a very challenging process for me, and as I say, “No,” more frequently it’s left me feeling very uncomfortable. I’ve had to be patient with myself as I navigate through it, and I continue to remind myself that finding harmony in my life will not only benefit me but everyone else around me.

6. DO YOU HAVE A ROUTINE OR RITUALISTIC WAY TO START EACH DAY? IF SO, PLEASE DESCRIBE.

Each morning I start my day with a gentle or restorative yoga practice, journaling, and creating a space for quietude along with some hot lemon water. My mind tends to be busiest in the mornings and often as soon as my eyes open I go into planning mode. By creating space for myself to simply be, I’ve learned to harness that busy energy which allows me to approach the rest of the day feeling less frantic and more relaxed.

7. WHAT ARE SOME NON-NEGOTIABLES YOU HAVE IN YOUR LIFE RIGHT NOW TO MAINTAIN BALANCE AND HEALTH IN EVERYDAY LIVING?

All of my devices have a bedtime. (Yes, this includes my phone!) I shut down all of my devices an hour before I lay down for bed and I wait for an hour after I’ve woken up each morning to reach for any of my devices. I used to be on my phone right up until my eyes closed for the night and as soon as my eyes opened for the day, and what I found is it often led to restless sleep and level of attachment I started to question. I then decided I’d do a little experiment and there has been no going back! I also have taken off all notifications on my phone, which has been amazing to see how much time and energy that small change has freed up for myself.

8. WHAT DRAW YOU TO THE LILA COMMUNITY?

The connections between the people that make up the Lila community. Every time I’ve stepped into the studio you can feel and observe the true sense of community amongst each person that walks through the door.

9. IF YOU WOULD SUGGEST ONE BOOK TO THE COMMUNITY TO READ AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO DEEPEN THEIR LEARNING ON LIFE, YOGA, AND ALL THINGS, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

For the past year and a half, I’ve been recommending When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, a memoir that chronicles Kalanithi’s experience in attempting to answer the question, “What makes a life worth living?” after being diagnosed with IV lung cancer. His ability to write with such eloquence, vulnerability, and honesty as he is faced with his own mortality is nothing short of inspiring. In reading this book, I was forced to reflect on my own life, looking at my own purpose and what I feel makes a life worth living.

2018-07-03T13:15:18+00:00 July 3rd, 2018|Teacher Feature|0 Comments

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