Steph Gongora

WHY DO YOU FEEL IT IS IMPORTANT THAT THE WORLD SHIFTS TO A MORE HEART BASED / FEMALE ENERGY?

This is actually something that I'm still learning to recognize in myself each and every day, and yoga has played a large part in that. I grew up with a mentality that the Mind is the greatest gift, and that logic and reason should be trusted above anything else, including the heart. Many of my past life decisions were based entirely on cognitive reasoning without any thought of emotional, spiritual, or heart based input. I'm not going to say that it didn't bring me some success and happiness, but there was a sense of emptiness there, and if I'm being perfectly honest with my self, a certain inkling of 'wrongness" surrounding certain situations.I started doing yoga purely for the love of physical asana.  I have a feeling there are quite a few people who would probably say the same.  Yet, I found myself very drawn to the foreign, the unfamiliar aspects of spirituality, mantra, heart opening, and instinctual trust in oneself.  It has been a journey paramount with my physical practice, but slowly, one step at a time, I am learning that while logic has it's place, so too does the heart and the spirit. When I think about the feminine aspects of energy, I think Reception. I think allowing oneself to Be. Fully present, open to the world and others around us, and receiving information from all ends. We are a channel, one that is listening intently and using the data received for nurturing purposes, both our own and for others around us. To me, that is the divine feminine energy.

Do we need both the masculine protective and giving side, as well as the receptive and nurturing female side? Absolutely. There is no doubt that we cannot cohesively exist without a balance of the two. That being said, the world today is chaotic. Fast moving, full of technology and ladder climbing, rat races, and new information being hurdled at you every day from all directions. When it comes to my health (physical, emotional, spiritual), and that health of those around me, I've found that embracing the feminine traits of softness, calm, and intuition, have helped me achieve the overarching feminine energy of Being Present. Why is that important? It's essential to treasure the present moment instead of always being engaged in activity aiding some future goal. How else will you ever achieve happiness and contentment if those emotions are placed somewhere in the intangible "tomorrow"? When technology and media are coming at us from all sides, I have found the best way to find peace and contentment is through presence. Calming the mind and the body. Being receptive of the information coming in, but allowing it to pass through like a channel so that I may nurture myself. And through self nurture, I find myself healthy enough in body, mind, and spirit to nurture those around me.

HOW DO YOU SHOW COMPASSION AND LOVE THROUGH YOUR GIFT AS A CREATIVE?

Only recently, I realized that a pattern seems to be forming in my life. I have become an unintentional "leader," and looking back over my youth, it is surprising to just discover something like this about yourself.  I've always been an introvert. A bit on the shy side, but that's gotten better over the years. Still, I'm much more content at home than in large groups, and I'll retreat to solitude before looking to recharge myself at a busy party or the like. And yet, time and time again, I find myself unintentionally leading, whether that is small groups or large. It's definitely not a role that I strive for, but it seems to happen, and social media simply allowed this effect to amplify exponentially. I'm willing to bet that quite a few of the bigger yoga accounts on there are people who might not consider themselves leaders outside of cyber space, and may not even be comfortable with the designation. Yet on the screen, from behind our little iPhones and Androids, suddenly it becomes possible for us to share a part of ourselves in the way we so choose. I try to show compassion and love through the honest sharing of myself and my struggle. I hope to inspire those looking for all aspects of yoga, not just the physical practice, and I am committed to helping anyone I can find contentment through practice. I try to always be true to myself, portray myself as a real, flawed individual, and use this imperfect, human nature as encouragement that yoga is for everyone. I am only one person, but I do my best to motivate those around me, answer questions that come my way, and help those who reach out and ask for it. In addition, it has been a more recent goal to cultivate community through my practice and the practices of others.

I've put #AustinYogaMeetUp into effect here in Austin, TX. Once a month, we host a free get together, where a local teacher offers a free warm up flow, and then we yogis simply play and get to know each other. It's grown much larger than I expected, and I see roots for applications outside of Austin as well. After all, these social media connections are amazing; I've met some of my best friends through them. But there's also something to be said for physical connection with likeminded people.  And these meet ups have allowed for that in ways I never dreamed possible.I share myself through yoga and movement. I hope this honest portrayal will help others test out the path I have gone down and find happiness. Through the connections I've made, I am blessed to be able to share amazing causes and small businesses with the community. And when I find one that is near and dear to my heart, I'm lucky enough to now be connected with so many amazing yogis that we CAN change aspects of the world. Currently, we are in the midst of a challenge called #WhistleForPeace, where we have raised over $5,000 to donate to the Falling Whistles Foundation, supporting continued peace and growth in Congo. These are applications of my simple practice that I couldn't have imagined when it began, and I look forward to what the future may bring.

 

WHAT PRACTISES DO YOU PUT INTO YOUR LIFE TO KEEP YOUR SACRED ENERGY FLOWING?

I'm a big fan of nurturing myself.  I have a daily asana practice that I stick to religiously.  Even if I can only squeeze in 10 minutes of sun salutations some mornings, I'm going to get my body moving.  I'm going to honor my physical shell and take care of it. I'm also very conscious of what I put into my body - be it food, supplements, medicine, cosmetics, etc. While I do believe in moderation, I've also realized that I value my health more than that piece of cake late at night, or too many drinks at the party. Yoga also helped me put other practices into my life, outside of the physical. I participate in "Morning Pages."

Every morning, I write for 10 minutes, as soon as I get up.  Often, its jumbled nonsense, but probably just as often, it's not. For someone who is still learning to embrace my emotions and intuition, I like to do a written dump each morning, early, before my brain can wake up and logic takes over. This has a true release effect for me, and I've grown to really look forward to my sleepy writing sessions. Pranayama is also important to me. I try to engage in different breath work patterns at least once a day, simply to calm my mind and clear some space. I do meditate on occasion, but not as often as many of the yogis that I know. And I think that is fine. My physical practice does wonders when it comes to the sacred energy flow. My lie is so busy that I often have to put many routines into place. That's ok. They are necessary to get things accomplished. When it comes to my asana practice, however, it is wild and unplanned. I usually put on some emotional (for me) music and just listen to my body. The movement isn't always organized or pretty, but it's cleansing and true. 

Instagram: @casa_colibri