Dashama: Fully Open and Alive

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A pioneer in the field of yoga and mind/body transformation, Dashama has devoted the past ten years of her life to transforming and inspiring millions of people. She is a healer on a mission, encouraging everyone she encounters to embrace meditation, healthy dietary practices, and yoga as a lifestyle, creating a path to healing and abundance.

Dashama lives a full life, training the next wave of yoga teachers, leading workshops, and hosting retreats all over the world. In fact, she has been called “the Anthony Robbins of Yoga”. In this exclusive interview with GratitudeSpace, she discusses self love, finding her calling, and living a happy, balanced life.


 

What does being grateful mean to you?

To be grateful is to appreciate on a deep level, in my heart, something, someone or just life in general. To feel grateful releases the happiness hormones serotonin and feels very good and positive. It is a way of life, to be and feel grateful for even the small things in life. It also has a way of leading to having more to be grateful for.

What are three things you are grateful for in this moment?

I’m here in Bahamas right now, for Christmas. I’m so grateful for the ability to travel and experience the beautiful world we live in, while connecting and sharing with new and old friends. I’m beyond grateful for having discovered my life purpose and life path over 10 years ago to share the healing and transformational gift of yoga and healthy conscious living. And if I have to narrow it down to 3, the 3rd thing I am grateful for in this moment is my health. I was a very sickly young person. Because I was raised in foster homes, I was sick a lot, from stress and sadness of missing my family. That lead me to develop many health problems and also lead me down a dark road of drinking and getting in trouble with the law, as well as car accidents and so many dark and horrible experiences. I am so grateful to have discovered the path of yoga and the path of light. To learn how to heal myself and to share this with others. And to access my highest potential, and to share this with others. All of these things I am daily grateful for, and more.

How is gratitude part of your yoga practice?

When I teach yoga, I always end each session with a guided gratitude practice for my students. When I am practicing by myself, I always start and end with meditation on gratitude and setting an intention for the practice. That keeps me grounded and present as much as the breath does. When I am feeling low or down, gratitude lifts my spirits and brings me back to the present, on and off the mat. I don’t really think of my yoga practice on the yoga mat. Yoga to me is every moment. It is a way of being and a way of life.

Can you tell us about a struggle in the past year that you are now grateful for?

I have had so many challenges my whole life! This past year was one of the easier years, actually. I had many dreams come true. But I also had many challenges as well. A little over a year ago I was in a horrible car accident where the car was totaled and I almost died. That lead me to some of the most powerful and deepest healing journey of my life so for that, I am tremendously grateful. Through my healing journey, I had a huge breakthrough and it changed everything in my life. Now I feel I can breath much easier all the time because I am much more deeply connected to my soul and my purpose than ever before. Then just this past summer, all six of my websites were hacked and completely destroyed. That was 10 years and about $50k of my work down the drain, and I felt affected on every level. This lead me to simplify my life and my message into what is most important and essential, which is my teaching, and especially the hundreds of videos I have produced over the years, which lead to the development of my new website at Dashama.com which was launched on QVC with Xbox and StarWars on December 21, so that was a nice resolution from the Universe to what otherwise was a very sad situation. I’m super grateful for this new direction!

“When I am feeling low or down, gratitude lifts my spirits and brings me back to the present.”

You serve as a role model to many people around the world. Who are your role models, and what are their strongest qualities?

When I seek role models, I look to people who embody love, kindness, grace, health, happiness, success and living on purpose at the service to the world and expressing creativity through their work. There aren’t many who do this fully, but there are some and they are my inspirations! One example of this is Shiva Rea, she was one of my first teachers, and Amma, the hugging saint in India. I also am inspired by Richard Branson and how he is able to operate at such a high level and maintain his joy, and people like Shakira, who consistently puts out incredible music and contributes to the important causes in this world while remaining happy and sweet, making her family her top priority. Some of my peers who do great work in the yoga world, such as Rachel Brathen, Laura Sykora, and Kino inspire me because it is wonderful to see other yoginis fully living in their power and sharing their light in their own unique way. I love that and it inspires me daily.

Which project or accomplishment do you consider to be the most significant in your life so far?

Healing myself has been the greatest accomplishment of my life. And when I say “healing myself” what I mean is finding the healers and medicine that would heal me at the right timing along the journey. I don’t take credit for anything that has happened to me, but I do acknowledge that if it wasn’t for the grace of god and the divine guidance I’ve been blessed with along the journey, I would be another statistic like the other foster children who end up on drugs and welfare living in a trailer park with free cheese program like we had when we were kids. That life is not easy and it is the greatest accomplishment I can think of to rise above the most adverse conditions and circumstances and to be where I am now, living the life I am able to live now, I recognize it is miracle and a gift. But it was not magic, it took a lot of hard work, focus and determination. Now I love to teach other people who they can also do this. That is the foundation of my yoga school Pranashama Yoga Institute and what makes it so unique. We don’t only certify yoga teachers in the traditional sense, I train people to become the best they can be, to heal, transform and reprogram their consciousness to whatever they choose. This is a unique path, one of conscious co-creation, but it takes discipline and will power. I believe that anyone can do this with proper guidance, if they set their minds to it.

When did you realize that practicing yoga and assisting others to do the same was your calling?

When I went to my first yoga teacher training, I was not going to become a yoga teacher. I was going to heal my heart from a relationship that had ended and to find some inner peace. It was later after I was already certified and teaching yoga, that I learned about the power of yoga to heal the spine, which was a huge issue for me, after I was hit by a car when I was 18 years old and developed scoliosis. When I learned I could heal my spine with yoga, despite all the doctors telling me it was impossible, that was a huge turning point. Then i started training with many healers and masters and that is when yoga became the most crucial practice for me. But that was still just yoga as a practice for my own healing. I realized that teaching and sharing yoga was my calling when I was trying to offer my personal fitness clients sessions and they all only wanted to do yoga instead. And when I started to get so many private yoga clients that I was teaching full time within a few months of starting to teach. And when I was one of the first yoga teacher on YouTube and my videos went viral on there, and when I auditioned to have my own shown on the Oprah Winfrey Network and was voted to the top 1% out of 20,000 auditions for my yoga show concept, and so many other signs that have solidified that this is my purpose that it is impossible to ignore… every time I have ever tried to venture in another direction, it has always lead me back to yoga.

You’ve said that your mother was your first yoga teacher. What are your earliest memories of learning from her?

My mother and father both studied yoga in the 70s and 80s. My dad met Swami Muktananda when he first came to the USA in NYC and my parents met each other in a tee pee in a hippie commune in Oregon. The first few years of my life were very sweet. We lived in a rural area in a home that my parents built, and my mom grew our food in an organic garden and made all of our clothing and food from scratch and by hand with so much love. She showed us fun yoga poses like full wheel and head stand, without any structure to our training. She had alters all over the house, and was very spiritual. I feel my spiritual essence comes from my mother in those early years. She nick named me Chosen when I was six years old, and she always made sure I knew how important and special I was. She loved to take photos of my sisters and I, and documented our early years with adoration and love. When I was 7 years old, my mother developed schizophrenia, and was also addicted to drugs and alcohol. It was a very hard and strange time for us, and after that, my sisters and I were removed from my parents’ home, split up, and raised in foster homes.

Are there any elements of your mother’s teaching that you teach today?

The pose that makes me think of my mother is simple prayer pose. She prayed a lot and now I do feel prayer is the most crucial practice in my life. Communication with God has brought me great peace and clarity throughout my life. The elements that I bring to the yoga practice that my mother taught me more than anything are non attachment, a deep connection to spirit, and creative, liberated, soulful expression. She was highly expressive, and in some ways I feel that gave me a stronger voice. My voice is much more refined, though, with a message of hope for my students based on what I have learned. My mother taught me many things, but most importantly, I learned how not to live. She was self destructive, developed liver disease, and passed away 8 years ago in a fire. God rest her soul.

Many people are walking around in pain like you were in after your bicycle accident, and some have given up, stopped searching, and have decided to accept a life of pain. What advice would you offer, as someone who has lived that experience?

When I was hit by the car on my bike, it was devastating. At the same time, I realized that people may see you are in pain but unless they have been through something similar, they can’t truly understand. Since I have been through such incredible suffeirng in my life, I feel I can relate to almost anyone in any sort of pain imaginable. That is both a blessings and a huge responsibility. I have had to refine my approach how I can serve people, since there are so many people suffering and in pain now. I used to be a give-a-holic, which meant I didn’t have balance in my life. I was involved with charities and fund raisers and teaching yoga and making videos and social media for 10 years, and it almost burnt me out. Then I took a step back and reevaluated my approach. I have learned to find balance, while still continuing to create things, connect, and help people while still having an enjoyable life. I never feel guilty any more for enjoying my life because I know I have suffered enough. Life is too short, so now I feel happiness is the highest priority. When I teach and certify yoga teachers, I always emphasize this as well. Teachers and healers can be so much more effective if they are also living in balance, and happy in their own lives. For anyone suffering, I always offer people my story so they can feel a sense of hope. I remember how low it felt to feel hopeless, and I have been to the bottom of depression and despair many times, so I can offer some guidance for anyone dealing with negative energy, and lead them toward the light. I know that is my purpose.

I tell people start with the breath, and some movement and meditation. You have to drink enough water and focus on positive thoughts and get enough rest and cleanse the body. This is the path to wholeness. Self love is the foundation for all healing. Gratitude is the basis for all growth and happiness, and compassion, kindness, and generosity are the fundamentals for living a whole life that you can feel proud of, with purpose and intention. Everyone has the power to transform their lives from darkness and pain to light and love. I know this because I have done it myself, and with many of my students world wide for 10 years. Even after all these years, many of them still keep in touch, tell me about their progress and thank me today.

In closing, what is one suggestion that you can offer our audience that may help them incorporate gratitude into their daily lives?

Gratitude is like anything, you must practice in the beginning to get good and strong in this way of living, thinking and being. When you practice gratitude, you become more sensitive to the harsh world, as we become more tender in our hearts with the practice of gratitude, but this is a good thing. We want to be soft and tender and not hardened in our hearts. Let life be a blessing and a gift, the practice of gratitude shows us the way.

Start with a daily journal in the morning or just before bed (morning is best to start the day with this) and just write for 5-10 minutes everything you have in your life to be grateful for. If you want to take it to the next level, then write for 5 minutes but each thing on the list, stop and visualize it, feel it and meditate on each thing on the list. This will become a great practice and you will notice miracles to start to unfold in your life in ways you could not even believe. You can also incorporate it into your yoga practice or during the savasana at the end. That is my favorite time to do it, when I’m feeling fully open and alive.

“Self love is the foundation for all healing. Everyone has the power to transform their lives from darkness and pain to light and love.”