n one exceptional moment, a father inspired by art history and a coast ablaze with a fiery sunset conceives the name Shiva Rae, forecasting for his daughter a destiny practicing and teaching yoga that would parallel the aspects of the dancing universe, constantly moving and vibrating in all of its relationships
Since early childhood, Shiva Rea began reading about Zen Buddhism as part of a search that led her to an exploration of various spiritual philosophies
. The greatest turning point came at the age of fourteen when she found yoga philosophy, first learning about meditation and then extending her practice to asana. Upon graduating high school, Shiva Rae traveled to Kenya as a volunteer in village development, where she took on a formal yoga practice with the group Ananda Marga while living with yogic nuns and helping to run an orphanage. When she returned to the United States, she enrolled in the department of World Arts and Cultures at UCLA, during which she conducted research all over the world and studied an array of world dance forms including West-African, Afro-Cuban, Javanese, Indian and Japanese styles. In addition, Shiva Rae began practicing at Yoga Works, where she experienced and pioneered the vinyasa flow style as an organic synthesis of step-by-step actions combined with heat.
A natural dancer, Shiva Rae always felt driven by rhythms both internal and in nature. Within asana practice, she felt an authentic movement that wished to come through, sparking her development in yoga trance dance. In this practice, she allowed her inner energy that came from a meditative state to spontaneously move through her as an integrative experience that she incorporates into her teaching.
The awakening of prana, or life force, composes a major aspect of Shiva’s teaching style and practice, emphasizing a connection to “the evolutionary current born out of experience that is fresh and alive and only in the now, the very nature of nature, the moving universe.” She explains, “the paved road is going over the rippling rolls of the earth and when we do vinyasa one of the ways that we undo this conditioning is through breathing. The whole concept and heart of my classes and spiritual practice is to bow to the life force so fully that we open up to our breath as the guide. I start to see and give tools to allow the breath to be the source, the wave for every movement.” One of the most important concepts that Shiva aspires to communicate to her students is the ability to change, “to listen to the alchemy of who we are on a daily basis and show up to life with our spark” as evolving expressions of life force.
She invites herself and her students to overcome obstacles with fruitful, creative responses and not to accept limiting, stagnant conditions. “Dare to respond to the inner guidance,” Shiva suggests. “After teaching for 18 years, I have complete faith in the inner current… it’s very specific and it’s within us all. Hear the call and rise up.” Through serving the inner teacher in each student, Shiva Rae has sensed a process of offering less of her own personality and more of the essence of her expression. In this dance between relaxing and awakening, Shiva has increasingly experienced greater freedom, translating into a freer response from her students.
As a servant to the creative force in every form,
Shiva Rae believes in yoga as a universal state of consciousness that leads to global activism. “There is a time when we all need to work together and look to the left and right of us, to be connected with our friends,” she says. “Our deep selves know that the time is now.” Currently, Shiva is actively participating in the Global Mala Project, a worldwide fundraising celebration to raise awareness of the planet’s most essential issues.
Shiva Rae looks upon her life with gratitude and fullness. “The power of love increases with yoga,” she declares. Her philosophy is a tribute to the seamless cosmic intelligence that lovingly steers our lives, a force ever constant and unconditional, waiting for us to open our hearts
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