Sweet, open and free-spirited, Samantha Mehra seems at peace with herself. Her playful exuberance and receptive demeanor reflect her facility for expression through relationship, through her body and through attunement with Source.
For several years while living in England, Samantha seriously pursued dance and choreography in ballet, modern and jazz. It was not until she moved to Los Angeles in her late twenties that her aunt suggested she take a yoga class. The initial resistance she experienced caused her to realize what an unhealthy lifestyle she had been leading despite her dance training, activating her vocation in yoga.
Samantha completed her first teacher training with Bikram, a milestone that completely changed and redirected her life. Whenever she practiced in class, she experienced a parallel to what she was undergoing in her personal life. Anything that was occurring inside of her emerged as she began moving. “When I made the transfer from dance into a yoga practice, there was a whole other arena supported by philosophy and religion, and yet it wasn’t so much about religion as it was really about spirit,” she recalls. Her newfound endeavor led her to India, where she unexpectedly stayed to teach for nearly five months. Upon returning to Los Angeles, she began teaching at various area studios, which paved the way for her current role as an instructor at Exhale and Malibu Yoga.
Samantha’s teaching style is constantly evolving, always encouraging a nurturing environment that can hold whatever arises for each individual. “It’s a co-creation,” she explains. “It depends on who’s going to show up in that room. The structure is vinyasa flow, but the mood or what’s actually brought is the energy of everybody together. It’s always so different.” While at one time it was important for Samantha to have a very physically strong and deep practice, she is now enjoying an experience of “less is more.” She is fascinated with the depth of connection with breath, and the integration of the openness of inhalation with the hugging in of exhalation. Her practice has deepened in the sense that she is exploring a whole inner world, our universe, filled with the beauty and depth of our own light and divinity, “and that doesn’t mean roll this muscle over that bone,” she clarifies. “The alignment is happening inside, the alignment of the energy with Source.” In addition, Samantha still combines her yoga practice with free form dance off the mat, helping her access more space and allowing for freer movement and expansiveness.
What are the qualities that Samantha values the most in her teacher-student relationships? “Being honest. Keeping it simple. Really honoring where you are at the time. Happiness is not a destination, it’s an attitude with which you choose to travel. Being loving. For me that’s the highest, the most important.”
Samantha appreciates the supportive group energy that forms when students have been attending consistently. In teaching private lessons, she feels privileged to have access to her students’ personal lives, where she has the opportunity to see the best part of them, as well as the most vulnerable part. “I learn from my students every time. Allowing that space for everybody to participate in opens up a very deep healing,” she says. “That intimacy, that letting in and how we all want to be loved, to give love, to focus on that, they give me so much trust and that is a very high position to be in. And it’s a blessing. I am constantly grateful to be in that position and to be able to access that channel and to watch other people move into that space. To be part of that is so delicious!”
To stay connected with her inner self among the stresses of daily life, Samantha keeps good company, practices every day and constantly reminds herself of peace. It takes courage, discipline, a strong desire and grounding to stay rooted in our center. “When you’re having something good in your life there can’t be that clinging,” Samantha comments. “One of my teachers says worrying is praying for what you don’t want. Fear is part of life. The mind is a trickster. It can be your friend; it can be your enemy. What is your intention for the day? What is your intention for your life? What do you want to align with? And stay focused on that. There will be those entities, those forces, those situations, those people coming at you to move you from that place. So the work is staying and yet there’s movement within that as well,” she adds. Any time she enters into a situation or a room, she begins inwardly chanting japa mantra, such as peace”¦peace”¦peace. Mantra helps overcome obstacles, and for Samantha it’s another tool to get through and fully embrace each day. She views obstacles with beautiful optimism, exclaiming, “It’s all perfect, really. When things aren’t going the way we want them to, it reminds me of my granny going, ”˜Samantha, divine order, divine order.’”
Samantha regards yoga as a seamless part of life, from an intention to taking the time to have a moment with somebody. For this sacred science, she feels the deepest gratitude. “I am humbled by all of it. There’s a passion and there’s a fire. The yoga is really about that Source…that source of life, that “It Is.” And to know that you are part of it, that there is no separateness.” Reveling in the infinite potential of this unbreakable bond, each moment is an opportunity…to conquer self, to claim happiness and to realize our limitless inner universe.