Once a week, The Swell Collective features a tribe member living the tribe values out loud. BE GOOD. DO GOOD. SEE GOOD. SHARE GOOD.
Name: Amanda Webster
Occupation: Certified Yoga Teacher and Ayurveda Consultant: Spreading the love for the sciences of yoga and Ayurveda.
Organization Name: Shivatree Yoga (formerly Yoga Adventure Hawaii)
What change in the world would you like to see through the work you’re doing?
The short version: I would like to see healthier, happier, more mindful individuals that are committed to honoring themselves, community and environment. The sciences of yoga and Ayurveda provide a framework in which to approach this transformation.
The long version: I believe that we all want to be happy. Our culture has convinced us that there is always a tangible solution to our suffering that is quick, easy, artificial or disposable; one that can often be purchased and tends to be one size fits all. We are dull and numb and disconnected from ourselves, one another and nature…and I believe in order for us to find true happiness we need to wake up and develop the courage, presence, compassion, patience and willingness to walk the long road. The one that requires self-knowledge, moderation of diet and sensory satisfaction, diligence, and recognition of the Divine light within ourselves, others, and nature. Yoga and Ayurveda provide a framework for walking this road; these wisdom traditions are unique because they have survived thousands of years and remain as relevant today as they were upon conception…these powerful, natural sciences have helped me find my brightest self, and I am continuously inspired when I see that spark of recognition within others!
Briefly describe the journey that brought you to the work you are doing today.
I always felt a quiet pull towards yoga, but growing up in the Midwest, yoga was something that celebrities practiced. Then I moved to Los Angeles and was obliviously surrounded by well-known yoga teachers and studios, but I was so busy with school and work that I never attended a class! Finally, in 2008, after moving to Hawaii and giving birth to my oldest son, I took my first class at the Windward YMCA and IMMEDIATELY knew yoga was “my thing”, it just made sense to me right from the start. I was always a tomboy and athlete, so the physicality of yoga came easily but I was attracted by the mind-body-spirit component of the practice…following that first class my monkey mind was noticeably quiet, which was a rare but familiar occurrence similar to “being in the zone” as an athlete. Soon following, I took the 200-hour training with the intention of expanding my understanding of the science and spirituality aspects of yoga, but halfway thru the training we were introduced to the concept of dharma.
Following that class, I intrinsically knew that teaching yoga and Ayurveda were part of my personal dharma, but was VERY reluctant to teach! I hated talking in front of people and was extremely shy in any situation that required me to open up. Four years later, I am no longer intimidated when faced with a class full of people, forgive myself for being less than perfect, and love that this beautiful practice continues to light me up! Additionally, I am constantly inspired by the students I meet, which motivates me to continue doing this work. I love watching people’s practices flourish and develop into a tool that creates more mindfulness, positivity, friendship and connection between layers of themselves, others, and the environment!
What or who inspires you? Why?
On a grand scale: It sounds cliché, but my heart belongs to God and on my best days, my thoughts, words, and actions align to express the love of God and extend it to others. Dive beyond the dogma, labels, and religions; this is an acknowledgment that we all share a common source that is beyond our current comprehension and scientific knowledge…insert the word of your own understanding. I think spirituality and science are two sides to the same coin, that one does not need to negate the other. As a child, I had powerful spiritual experiences that I now understand to be dhyana or even a momentary glimpse of samadhi, a spontaneous sense of total bliss and absorption…I had a sense of God before I had a construct of God, something bigger than what I was taught in church.
Yoga gave me a scientific practice to return to that spiritual experience of complete bliss, and in doing so, the ability to be content with the highs and lows of living. So on this grand scale, yoga allows us “to yoke” our bodies, minds, and spirits to recognition of this common source that is beyond our individual egos and intellects, and this only happens when we can quiet our own minds. When we establish a practice (such as yoga) that routinely brings us to the state of connectivity through quiet mind, we see, speak, act and relate with more awareness, intention and love…experiencing this huge shift as an individual and as people practice together, that is all the inspiration I need!
On a more familiar scale:
I am inspired by the rhythms of nature, by the people I encounter through my work, and by my yoga teachers, especially Rupali Embry, with whom I am currently studying for my 500 hour yoga certification. I am inspired by nature because it has an intelligence that far exceeds our own. Ayurveda recognizes this intelligence and promotes self-care practices that help us align ourselves to the rhythms of nature so we become healthier.
Our society especially has strayed from simple practices that would prevent so many of the diseases and stress common to the modern world, such as eating foods in season from our local communities, avoiding processed foods (the closer to the natural state, the better!), exercising, limiting our time with electronics, resting when we’re tired, et cetera.
I am inspired by the people I encounter because they often understand the need to return to a more simple lifestyle and are in some way engaged in promoting this awareness to the communities they are involved in. And Rupali inspires me because she is incredibly kind, intuitive and intelligent, and embodies the philosophy of yoga in her teaching, self-care practices, and business endeavors.
What is your greatest personal or professional challenge at the moment? How are you working to overcome it?
When I was pregnant with my second child, my grandma gave me this advice, “Multiply your love, but divide your time.” Like most of us, this is my greatest personal challenge… managing my time in a way that allows me to spend quality time engaged in the work that I love while being present with my loved ones. To maintain this balance, I try to keep my work schedule consistent and to establish a routine that equally meets our family’s individual and collective needs. It’s a constant work in progress.
What advice would you give your 18 year old self?
I would tell my 18-year old self to trust intuition and to just speak up. When something is important to you, let this confidently be reflected in your actions and words. If meeting a familial or societal norm doesn’t light you up, follow the dream that does light you up! If you don’t know what that is, figure it out. Recognize that your career choices may enable you to accumulate the resources you need to spread this dream rather than fulfill this dream itself.
What is most rewarding about the work that you do?
Facilitating classes, retreats, and workshops that get people started on the path of yoga and encourage them to stay on the path, the ones who consistently practice together have developed such a wonderful sense of community and acceptance, which is very rewarding.
Anything else you’d like us to know or share with our fellow Swell mates?
Thank you for inviting me to be a part of The Swell community!