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Empowered Living

Episode 21 | "Stand Within Yourself"

Selena Isles

Often called the Urban Yogi, I am a yoga teacher, international DJ Seriousblack and solo mother.  After 25 years, I still refer to myself as student. My journey officially started in 1995, after a traumatic injury in the 4×400 relay ended my athletic career in 4 seconds. While recovering I found a copy of Autobiography of a Yogi which then led me to discover my mother’s copies of Light on Yoga, The Yoga Sutras, and The Bhagavad Gita. My mother was my first teacher and guru; yoga has been with me since birth. Through her guidance and teachings that I realized that Yoga had been weaving in and out of my childhood and adolescence and I ran from it at every turn. I figured it was something that was unattainable, something I had to be “old” to understand. However when I needed it the most, the breath, the practice, the path, was there. It brought me back from the brink of losing everything, I had worked so hard to achieve during my athletic career to a place of stillness and healing. I spent the rest of that summer in full leg cast and crutches, secluded in my parent’s basement, trying to wrap my mind around this practice and its concepts.

The AHA! moment I believe came through reading Autobiography of a Yogi and his reverence for simplicity in his writings and his devotion. In addition a visit from my aunt, who shared with me her insights and outlined my life telling me that the only constant in life is change and that I could run but never hide from this path; and my mother who never swayed from her purpose or mine. I learned to find the joy in the rise and fall of life, the triumphs and tribulations and learning to understand the impermanence of everything around me. It was also at this point that I stumbled down the path of meditation like an elephant in a china shop, seeking refuge.

I learned important lessons in the basement, that summer that live on in my practice and teaching today. It was self check, a stripping of the ego a burst of light. In 1999, I traveled to Thailand, and became dedicated to the path of yoga and meditation, of the Nath Yogi. While there I lived in a small ascetic village which affected my practice greatly, this was not a cool resort teacher training at all! This was rugged day to day monastery living, offering oneself up to serve and being humbled in the most painfully extraordinary ways, this was learning about my dharma. I will say that being in that tiny village, and all the challenges it presented was the start of my path, as I spent the first few years learning nothing of asana yet everything of the mind, mantra and meditation. I began practicing asana and discovered something I had been seeking for years: the manifestation of meditation through motion. Today I work at blending the alchemy of my own practice with my years of studentship. I did not aim to teach, yet allowed the practice to resonate from me, letting awareness blend with movement and breath.

Over the years, I developed a style that integrates the breath based flow of Ashtanga and the precision of Iyengar into a deep, transformative and integrative mind/body experience. My practices are dynamically focused classes that force you into the present moment, using a bit of urban vernacular. In 2019, I was named one of the first Global ambassadors for Lole.

I spend my time parenting, embracing the chaos of life, teaching, training and making music between Montreal, LA, and Europe.Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha!





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