Stacy Patrice is an actress, yogini and multi-faceted artist. Stacy plays Ebony, a feisty fitness geek who hangs out in Bar Star City world. Stacy also facilitates her amazing Soul Healing Yoga™ program each Sunday at Rebuild Foundation's Dorchester Artist & Housing Collaborative (DA + HC) in Grand Crossing on Chicago's Southside. She's definitely the lady to talk to if you're looking to get your yoga on. Read this Q&A and you'll see why the Bar Star City producers are Soul Healing Yoga™ devotees.
How did you become interested in yoga?
Ive always been a fan of movement since I was 5. I would dance until the music stopped. But my sincere interest in yoga came along after the birth of my first child where I found myself quite literally wanting to rebuild my core. I could feel myself physically, mentally and spiritually needing a stronger foundation in order to deliver the work I set out to do at the time. As a model, photographer, jewelry designer and digital media educator with other people's children, I found it hard to imagine how Id keep myself vibrant and balanced with these responsibilities as well as the new set that come with new motherhood. I found that focus, clarity and stability were words I was using to describe what I needed and almost everyone I spoke with recommended yoga. Id tried yoga numerous times before but It didnt stick. Wasn't sure why or how it could offer anything different now. Because of how badly I wanted that focus, clarity and stability, I jumped right into an intense 15 month teacher training program with all senses on deck thinking Id definitely get what there was to get about it. They had me at the opening circle. I never looked back.
What styles of yoga did you study? What styles do you teach?
I am certified and learned firsthand from seasoned masters in Ashtanga, Iyengar, Forrest, Hatha and Kemetic yoga styles. Although heavily influenced by Ashtanga and Iyengar, my style may look like a form of Vinyasa from a distance with a heavy focus on alignment. The liberation in expression that happens in session with practicing yogis creates its own style as its a soul-led practice, different in ways from any of the structured styles Ive experienced. Ive named the style of yoga I practice and teach, Soul Healing Yoga™.
Yoga has had a big impact on your life. Can you tell us about it?
Sure. Theres no real short story so in summation I can say that I am truly inspired by the eight limbs of yoga and how those principles have been themes of my life long before I was consciously aware of them. I live yoga and so my greater love for the practice is definitely off of the mat. The way I live, think, dress, the environments I'm in and I create, who I befriend and date and how, are all lifestyle changes I trace to who I am after yoga. I often juxtapose these with my life as a stylist and fashion model and and I was so happy to find my yoga community after being bombarded with such insecurity, shameless violence of Self and lies. I felt it was beyond time a healing took place and instead of pointing outward I began with me. Best. Move. Ever.
Your Soul Healing Yoga™ program is incredible. What were you looking to do with this program? What does this program offer that others don't?
Thank you! Much gratitude. I'd have to say I always intended to offer something that felt good to the individual. So many of the now-yogis and non-yogis I met when I began teaching had never had a positively profound yoga experience before we met, which saddened me because I recall what I wouldv'e thought about yoga had I stopped based on the random classes I took early on. Originally I just wanted to provide a positive experience rich with my zest for teaching and learning. Very quickly I noticed that my circles had a certain perception about yoga based on the fact that they didnt know anyone doing it, save the so-called 'weirdos' they didnt connect with anyway. I noticed more of the same narrative in the yoga market, like many other places I'd been before, there was so much segregation. There werent enough studios and centers on the Southside of Chicago where I'm from and there wasn't a blending of demographics, shapes, styles, titles, nor incomes. Worse there was no context for the experiences and intuitive guidance people were having during their mode of practice. It sparked a bit of frustration in me because this practice was supposed to be about 'unity' and it was the biggest elephant in the room and no one was talking about it, at that time. I wanted to connect mind, body and soul amongst a myriad of reflections. It was a dream that hadnt yet happened. I stepped into that entire frustration and sought various avenues for years until it was reflected in my program. Now its the one thing people marvel about--that they never expected yoga could FEEL and CONNECT in this way. The feeling is quite healing for so many of us.
What do you say to those who are curious about yoga but don't know where to begin?
If your'e fiercely adventurous, begin in a teacher training program, lol. Perhaps if less adventurous an 'Intro to Yoga' class may be the place to begin. A Beginners, Level 1 or a standard community yoga class may be best if youre slightly more adventurous. If youre impatient and perhaps private, begin at home on your mat and start with a dvd/online video. If you have some ailments, conditions and points of caution then hiring a private instructor may be ideal. I've taught others yoga for their first time through each of these formats. I think its really a personality-based choice unless you have an injury or chronic condition which at that point it may be imperative to work with a qualified professional privately or attend a therapeutics class.
What are some common misconceptions about yoga?
Good one. There are so many! Seven popular ones I hear recycled are:
- There is a level of flexibility one needs to have before they start practicing yoga
- Having a group practice is somehow more evolved than having a personal practice
- Black people, men, seniors, 'big girls' and the hood are not about that yoga life.
- People who have injuries, stiffness, chronic conditions and disabilities should never practice yoga
- Yoga causes conflict for religious people
- The origins of what we presently call yoga solely trace back to India
- Yoga is monolithic. It is only here to help you stretch deeply and relax. If it doesnt do that, then it isnt yoga.
Why do you think yoga is so popular now?
Social media. The driving of short term certified teacher trainings on every block in America. Yoga-based corporations pushing the dream. Its trending. It looks great in a photo. Its easy to make a side hustle because no one's asking the important questions about what type of training and experience an instructor has with handling peoples bodies, so pretty much anyone can do it--in some cases without certification and definitely without continuing education. Its a wide open market and completely saturated. In most cases yoga is promoted like a big sorority or social club that the haves belong to and the have-nots arent invited to. So in backlash everyone creates an inclusive version for what they think yoga should be here in the West and thus the game begins!
I also think its popular because the practice is ancient, undeniable and has unlimited benefits. Its being recommended by medical professionals, celebrities and saints and has generated infinite success stories. It has been proven to be the perfect refuge from a stress-inducing lifestyle which is pretty much popular culture at this point. So we all need a solution. Yoga is there and everywhere you look. And it is within.
What do you like about yoga?
Yoga is a great griot and a great guru to take with me on my journey. Its definitely a personal practice for me and my practice has changed from being mainly physical to deeply spiritual. It has helped me to tune in to see beyond matter. That's what counts most. Its elusive and specific without being overly didactic. I think I love that I can find some of everyone Ive ever met in the practice, in some connected way, thus I find alot of my life in it. The way I practice gives me back alot of life and that I am grateful for.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Yes...the practice! It is one of my greatest and most generous shares. I've been honored to travel to share my insights on the practice and customize them for large private groups as well as offerings for festival goers alike. I have evolved the physical practice into true lifestyle tools and experiences for those interested in getting beyond the obvious and delving into the naked truth that there is to be discovered when you honor your unique imprint and get to the root of all innerstanding, at the soul level. This is the type of bliss I love to share most and I am interested in continuing to be a Journey Leader & Soul Healer for yogis all over the world who step up to answer the call and heal their soul. There's so much more on the way as it relates to expanding the yoga frame. It's so much more available than what we see now. This is the space where my sharing begins. id love it if you join us! stacypatrice.com