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Rosemary Garrison: Deep Heart Opening

Yogini, Rosemary Garrison, shares what she loves about her yoga practice—how it reveals her heart and opens up all kind of magic both on the mat and beyond.

Yoga Anytime: Why do you practice?

Rosemary Garrison: I practice because it opens and strengthens my body, clears and calms my mind, reveals my heart, and connects me with the divine.

What prevents you from practicing?

Hmmm ... nothing prevents me from practicing. However, if I am fatigued or depleted, I adapt my practice significantly and move from Vinyasa towards a more Restorative, Yin style.

Tell us about a recent experience of Yoga.

I love a good backbend, or four or five. I recently moved through a series of Urdhva Dhanurasanas at the end of a long, strong practice. I was open and well wrung out—primed for deep heart opening. As I released to the earth after the last one, I felt a palpable new awareness arise within me. It was an insight into a deep personal challenge that had been confounding me for months. The immediate clarity and sense of liberation were so sweet, I cried. I love this about the yoga practice. It works on such a deep level that visions, openings, insights, all kinds of magic can come through—ultimately allowing for great transformation.

What's the most challenging part of teaching yoga/ what is the most rewarding?

The most challenging aspect of teaching yoga is my fear/ ego mind. It's an unpredictable profession without the security of a more traditional job and I sometimes slip into worry mind. The sweet paradox is that it's yoga itself that offers the remedy.

Oh, there are so many rewarding aspects of teaching! Showing up on the mat for my students day after day demands me to be present, to leave the personal stuff behind. Teaching year after year asks me to continue learning and deepening my own practice. Perhaps most moving for me is witnessing students transform through the practice. To watch another being heal, grow, evolve is an immense joy.

I love this about the yoga practice ... It works on such a deep level that visions, openings, insights, all kinds of magic can come through—ultimately allowing for great transformation.

What is your personal mantra or words that you find yourself living by these days?

Lately, the notion of Surrender has meant a lot to me. I don't believe we are actually in charge. So, when I can release my illusion/ attachment to a separate self and surrender to the divine, I am much more at peace. I'm also deeply rooted in the practice of Compassion—for myself and for others. It's an instant heart opener, which of course makes everything flow more sweetly.

Is there a word or phrase that you are trying to eliminate from your vocabulary?

Not specifically ... but I am mindful of my language. Our words and deeper still, our beliefs, shape our worlds. Thus, I am careful to let limiting phrases and beliefs go and replace them with a sense of possibility.

Who are some of your greatest sources of inspiration in the yoga world?

I am inspired by my friends—on and off the mat. They live with such courage, honesty, love, and an unwavering commitment to living as beautifully and mindfully as possible. They are my lifeline. I'm also inspired by my students who show up over and over again. For me, the unsung heroes of this practice are the most interesting and compelling. They practice despite the fear, extreme discomfort, fatigue, whatever it is—for no external reward. Also, everyone working for environmental healing—a personal passion. And finally, always, Mary Oliver.

What advice would you give someone starting or restarting their yoga journey?

ENJOY IT! Find the teachers, the styles, the rhythm that support you and bring you joy. Yes, there is an element of discipline to this practice, but if we fall in love with it, we come back to the mat because we truly want to. Our bodies and spirits begin to crave it. So much in our culture is arduous and punishing—my prayer is that the practice relieves us of that energy and invites us into an entirely new one. I also adore pranayama so I would encourage practitioners to explore it if and when it calls to them. And ... meditation!

Practice with Rosemary in her new show, Hands-on Adjustments


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