Yoga Teacher, Author, Entrepreneur, Writer
Yoga Styles Vinyasa, Viniyoga, Yin

You recently released the book, Yoga in America, where you interviewed various yogis. What common thread did you find in their thoughts on yoga?
Yoga in America is a compilation of yoga teachers’ writings from around the United States. Each of the 46 writers who contributed to the book is an accomplished yoga teacher, but perhaps not too well know throughout the world (yet!). My goal in compiling the book was to illustrate the breadth and depth of yoga styles, approaches and traditions practiced and taught in America.

What is a common theme throughout the country is a commitment to the universal yogic principles as outlined in the Yoga Sutras. But what I love about reading different interpretations is that in typical American style…each yoga disciple and teacher finds their own special and unique way to present what yoga is all about to them. Some chapters are humorous, other scientific, while still others are heartbreaking and emotional. It’s hard to imagine anyone picking up the book who can’t identify with at least one of the talented the authors.

How did you score the dream gig of running the Florian Villa?
I’ve got to say it wasn’t as much a “score” as a huge financial and personal investment! My fiancée, Scott and I put all of our life savings into buying the villa. When we bought Florian, I owned a yoga studio in Boston and we thought it would be a great way to enable the students from the studio to go on retreat and to raise money for families of fallen firefighters and disabled soldiers.

Scott is a Captain on the Boston Fire Department and he’s a Marine Corps vet, so we’d always done a lot for both of these causes. Now, with the villa, we rent it out and host yoga retreats and weddings in order to donate retreats for disabled vets and families of fallen firefighters. We still live in Boston full time, but we travel to St. John several times a year to lead retreats. Next week we’re having a group of disabled soldiers who just returned from Iraq come down to the villa, thanks to the awesome fundraising support of our friends and retreat guests.

I love having a non-traditional job after 15 years of working as in corporate roles. I can’t say I don’t miss the steady paycheck, but I feel like it allows a lot more time for Karma Yoga activities.

Stress Busters
AT WORK I know everyone’s heard it before….but it’s so true: take a deep breath. Whether you’re in a meeting or on the phone in a stressful situation, relax your belly and take a long inhale through your nose and an even longer exhale through your mouth.

Another thing I learned to diffuse irrational or hostile people with whom I worked is to let them talk until they run out of things to day….just be quiet, don’t say a word, and just let them talk. At the end of their rant, ask if they want your input. Only then, start to talk. Usually people who are not rational or who are angry can’t “hear” what you’re saying anyway and they just feed on your (perceived) interruptions as ammunition to become even more worked up. Just let them fizzle themselves out…kind of like a baby throwing a tantrum and then falling fast asleep.

AT HOME Shut off everything, for 10 minutes a day: phone, tv, computer, Blackberry. Absolutely everything that talks to you or that you use to communicate. Close your eyes and take 20 long breaths. Let your mind stay fully with your breath. If your mind wanders off in the middle of the 20 breaths (and it will), start over. Keep starting over until you get through 20 breaths, with your mind staying focused on your breath. This is harder than you may think! You can also do this while you’re trying to fall asleep at night.

Deborah’s Top 3 Inspirational Media
1 By thy Grace, Snatam Kaur
2 Hope in Uncertainty, Pema Chodron

3 Non-Violent Communication, Marshall Rosenberg

Florian Yoga’s Deborah Bernstein: the Caribbean, Non-Violent Communication and Pema Chodron

February 26, 2009