My Buddhi Journey
I cannot say that I ever considered myself an athletic person. I have always been skinny - never having weighed more than 118 lbs. at 5 feet 3 inches - but I was never toned or muscular. I was never sporty, quite the opposite in fact. You could normally find me sitting in a corner somewhere reading. I was the kid in gym class who would stand in the outer corner of the soccer field hoping and wishing that the ball would stay away from her. As I grew older, I developed more of an interest in fitness for vanity’s sake, but still would never have considered myself fit. My typical pattern would be to get a burst of new resolve, go running or head to the gym regularly for a few months, and then become disillusioned with it all and slowly stop going. When I wrote goals for myself and my life, I would always include something along the lines of being in the best shape of my life, or at least getting a six-pack. Still, I hated exerting myself and sweating, and was bored by traditional gym workouts, running, or team sports.
This all changed during my early 20s, when I was living on the Big Island of Hawaii. A friend from work would constantly ask me to join her at a local yoga class, something called Buddhi Yoga. Back then, I worked long hours 5-6 days of the week and my days off were precious, spent either catching up on errands or, more likely, at the beach. The yoga class took place from 10-11:30 AM, which meant half of my day was gone, and so I usually would tell my friend I would go and then make up some excuse and cancel. Time passed this way for a while, until one day I had run out of excuses - and it was raining - and I decided to try the class.
I can still remember entering the room where the class was being held. Now, I had shown up about 10-15 minutes early as I usually do for everything. Even at that time, the only available places were in the back corner of the room. I unrolled my mat and nervously started doing some stretching, as I saw everyone else warming up. The lights were dimmed and the room was heated, with heat lamps set around the periphery. Though the room was small, there were about 30 people in the class all packed in tightly next to each other. The room was loud with the excited voices of friends greeting each other and catching up. It was my first yoga class ever and, not fully knowing what to expect, I quietly awaited the start. My friend was running late, so I was going to start alone.
The class began and I was immediately met with something completely different from what I had expected. Never having been to a yoga class before, I had imagined a dimly lit room with people slowly stretching and “ohm” music playing in the background. My thoughts could not have been further from reality. The music was loud and a mixture of hip hop and techno. The teacher was doing traditional yoga postures, but adding hip rotations, gyrations, and twerking. The yoga poses were periodically interrupted for short cardio bursts or powerful body movements. The energy in the room was unbelievable, everyone pushing their bodies as hard as they could go, and then pushing harder. I wasn’t at the physical level of the class – in fact I had to leave the room once to catch my breath away from the heat lamps – but I was pushing myself beyond what I had thought I was capable of. I wanted to be able to move my body in the way the teacher could, and at the level of the class.
I was instantly obsessed, and started going to class whenever I could. Back then there was only one trainer that I knew of, the founder of the style, and I attended her every class that my schedule would allow. I would look forward to the class - even stopped caring about skipping the beach for it. The practice was a full-body workout like I had never experienced before, and was so much fun that I left each class smiling and full of energy. I started feeling more confident, sexy, and empowered. I started loving parts of my body I had always been critical of before. The practice had more than just an effect on my physical appearance, even though it finally gave me that six-pack I had wanted for so long. I felt strong. My body was capable of so much more than I had ever thought, and I felt athletic for the first time in my life. I saw my moves improve with every class. I carried myself differently as my body learned new and different ways of moving.
I left the Big Island to live abroad, but would always come back for vacations, and Buddhi was a big reason for my choosing to return to the island instead of going somewhere new. Over the years, more and more teachers started sprouting up, and I was soon going to class about 7-8 times a week while on island, learning all that I could and benefiting from all of the different teaching styles. Still, I was only ever able to take classes when I was on island as Buddhi did not exist anywhere else, or at least not in the places where I was.
While I was abroad I still constantly thought about Buddhi. Every song that I heard had me twerking and doing Buddhi moves in my head. I tried to attend other group fitness classes but was left disappointed. I was determined to find a way to still have the Buddhi practice and community while away from the islands, and decided to become certified to be able to spread Buddhi to people in the places I was living in and traveling to. I wanted to recreate the amazing energy that swirls around the room of every Buddhi class. The only way that I could do this was to teach and create my own classes. I attended my teacher training in 2016, but still only taught to my friends, as my becoming a teacher had more to do with my wanting to experience a Buddhi class off the Big Island rather than an overwhelming desire to teach.
Some time passed, and my entire world was rocked when I lost one of the closest people in my life. Not knowing what to do or where to go, I naturally returned to the Big Island and to my mat. When I felt like I had no control over my life, watching my body become lither and more toned in a rational reaction to consistent, intense exercise was somehow reassuring. I could be lost in my thoughts, but as long as I was going through the motions, the natural result followed. I was fascinated with the idea that we could push our bodies to what we thought was their limit, and then push beyond, and each Buddhi class pushed me past my limits.
Buddhi was the only time I could just breathe – if only because I was forced to because of the intensity level of the class. I went to class every day, sometimes multiple times a day, and the strangest thing began happening. Though I had only been attending to test my physical limits and to lose myself in the music, Buddhi began to heal me. I didn’t have time to think of anything else other than the extremely demanding physical movement. The upbeat, rhythmic music inspired positive, happy feelings. I would get lost in the music and the movement, and move into a trance-like state.
This trance-like state is where it all started to change. Buddhi had previously only ever been a physical workout for me. Sure, it made me feel stronger and sexier, but I had always experienced it on a very physical level. Before, it was fun; now, the practice was seeping into my being. I could come to my mat, shake out my soul for 90 minutes, and end up in savasana crying out emotions I hadn’t let myself feel in a real way. I was free to just be, not having to speak to anyone, while still feeling the loving and supportive energy of everyone in my community surrounding me. I began to smile again, at first for mere moments, then longer and longer each day.
Buddhi slowly started to encompass my every thought. It became more than just a practice, and turned into a philosophy by which I live my life. I found that the fluid movements allowed me to be more fluid in my life. So grateful for the relentless badgering of my friend who had introduced me to the practice, I now badgered everyone around me to come try it out. I started teaching, which allowed for a whole different type of energy exchange. I found myself being so grateful to be able to share this practice with others – to see it touch others in the same way it had touched me.
I have seen it help so many people firsthand – giving them back their self-confidence after having a baby, helping them out of abusive relationships, stopping destructive behaviors, or simply being a guiding force for anyone going through a difficult time. I have seen it build friendships, foster community, encourage good health and fitness, and give Stella her groove back. Most of all, I have seen it cause a pervasive, infectious happiness, amongst all who try it.
I realized the true magic of this practice and its ability to use physical movement to work through emotions, blocks, and even traumas to leave you feeling centered and grounded. This all happens without you even realizing it. You are so focused on the physical demands of the movement that you do not, at first, see all of the other changes happening. This practice allows you to align yourself with your true thoughts, feelings, and emotions. It allows you to focus more strongly on your intentions, goals, and dreams. The focus, effort, and concentration the practice demands spills over into all areas of your life. Buddhi provides a concentrated outlet for you to work through anything that may be limiting you, so that you can spend the rest of your time and energy focused on building your perfect reality.
Since that fateful first class, I have taught all over the world – in China, Singapore, Romania, Germany, Malta, Cyprus, the USA, and more. I have taught to young and old, females and males, experienced yogis and first-timers.
I have had translators in countries where I don’t speak the language and taught women in hijab how to twerk. Through this practice, I have met like-minded individuals and built my own “Buddhi squad” worldwide.
I am always happy to see my students’ faces go through the different phases, from wondering what the heck they got themselves into to smiling and laughing with the ecstasy of movement. What has always amazed me is the ability of the practice’s message and meaning to come through to everyone, regardless of age, gender, nationality, language, or background.
I believe in this practice. I believe that if it has come into your life it is for a reason. Wherever you are, whoever you are, and whatever your motivation is, Buddhi has something to offer you – even if it is just a six-pack – if you are open to it.
My aim is to share this practice with as many people as possible and create a global Buddhi community, a Buddhifool World.
I would absolutely love to share it with you.