About Angela Attia

photo by Sara Harper-HudsonOnce upon a time, I thought happiness was simply a matter of will. If I fell short of success, the reason was that I wasn’t pushing myself hard enough. This idea was true for me whether in academics (I took the SAT five times) or in gymnastics (I couldn’t make it through a whole meal without doing a handstand).  Anything that wasn’t helping me get to my goals was clearly a waste of time. I bore my OCD with pride, because I was sure contentment was only a matter of determination.

My resolve did get me pretty far. I went to Stanford University and then became a professional trapeze artist. I started going to yoga not because I wanted to change anything, but simply to become an even better, stronger, more flexible performer.

However, my pursuit of perfection finally caught up to me in a torrent of pain.  I had to change my yoga practice; slow down and listen. I had to really look at how I was doing what I was doing and really be honest with myself regarding my alignment.

However, one’s patterns have a funny way of morphing themselves to fit the current situation. I thought if I just understood everything there was to know about alignment, I wouldn’t get injured. I got certified in Pilates and tried everything from Feldenkrais, to Alexander Technique to Rolfing. I worked closely with physical therapists and did a lot of research. I learned a tremendous amount and was having great success in helping my private yoga clients with everything from Parkinson’s to improving their golf game. And I was still being plagued by injuries.

When I took the Anusara Yoga teacher training course, I finally realized that although I’d been practicing regularly for almost 15 years, I was still trying to squeeze my body and mind into some vision of “right” . Instead of really listening to what an instruction might mean and letting my body guide me, I was always trying to impose what I thought it meant. Listening to that inner voice takes vigilance and patience. I believe my job as a yoga teacher is to help my clients listen to their own voices and bodies better.

And I still believe in challenges.  Listening can be quiet, but it can also be active and physically difficult. Through 16 years of working with clients, I have come to understand how to make these challenges exciting rather than treacherous, and what it means to develop a taste for the possible.

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