Inspiring People: Q&A with Yoga Teacher Amanda Webster

Amanda Sunrise header image

People who pursue their passion inspire me. With their courage, determination and faith, they’re blazing the trail for other dreamers to follow their dreams.

In the past, I’ve had the opportunity to interview a celebrity designer, successful author, Olympic medalist, and my favorite design bloggers.

Today, I’m featuring someone who I’ve admired for a long time. Amanda Webster is a yoga teacher and co-owner of Yoga Adventures Hawaii in Kailua, a business that offers yoga workshops and retreats. As a student in several of her classes,  I know she lives by what she teaches and I’m honored to have her here sharing her wisdom and path she took to follow her dreams.

Amanda Webster

Please describe what you do.

I teach heart-centered yoga classes, workshops and private sessions that range from upbeat to serious, restorative to powerful, and everything-in-between. I believe yoga helps us to identify the intentions, habits, and limiting beliefs about ourselves and others, and to recognize the value of consistent self-inquiry, growth, and expansion of universal awareness both on the mat and off. My strength as a teacher is building community and meeting people where they are by teaching from the idea of “vinyasa krama,” the breakdown of yoga into manageable steps to explore the gradual unfolding of the self in a way that reflects the intelligent unfolding of nature’s inherent rhythm. This is an awareness that benefits you off of the mat, too, which is where the real power of yoga exists.

I am also fortunate to co-host yoga retreats with my business partner Michael Graney. We make a great team, inspiring people to expand their boundaries and constricting beliefs, and to recognize how yoga can improve their welfare beyond the yoga mat!

Can you describe the journey that led you to where you are today?

I always felt a quiet pull towards yoga, but growing up in the Midwest, yoga was something that was just catching on in the celebrity realm. In college I ended up switching majors from pre-medicine to community health to behavioral psychology, eventually working as a behavioral therapist and case manager for autistic children. In 2008, after moving to Hawaii from Los Angeles and giving birth to my oldest son, I took my first class at the Windward YMCA and IMMEDIATELY knew yoga was “my thing.”

As an introvert, I hated speaking in front of people, though I recognized that this work would require me to make many essential shifts that could only make my life and relationships better. I often joke that diving deep into the yoga practice is like jumping into a rabbit hole, meaning it is exhilarating and terrifying at the same time and once you jump there is no turning back! For me, as a student and teacher of yoga, that exploration is the journey….

What was the greatest obstacle/challenge that you had to overcome to get to where you are?

The most challenging part of this work, both past-tense and currently, is finding a balance between the finances/marketing side of yoga as a business and the philosophical components of yoga. This includes marketing events without feeling like a salesperson and earning enough money to make ends meet while allowing yoga to be accessible and affordable to your clients…all while upholding the heart of yoga as a non-dogmatic practice characterized by self-inquiry and unity through adherence to the eight limbs of yoga.

It’s like this: Yoga students often see great value in their practices and have much appreciation for their teachers. An amazing yoga experience is like the satisfaction you feel after eating a delicious, well-prepared 5-star meal. However, students would prefer to only pay fast-food prices for that meal, they only want consider the final product. For teachers, often the work is the reward, but we cannot sustain the 5-star quality on a fast food budget. Many of us who teach yoga as a living are like the fast-food employees making minimum wage and struggling to cover basic living expenses; we need to be paid for the work that goes into preparation in addition to the final product.

Basically, if yoga (or anything) is such an important component of your life, the amount of resources you devote to the development of your practice should proportionally reflect the value it has on your life. It feels taboo to even approach this subject, but there are some really inspirational people in the wellness industry beginning to intelligently bridge that gap. I’m still working on it!

What do you love most about you’re doing?

When we establish a practice (such as yoga) that routinely brings us to the state of connectivity through quiet mind, we see, speak, act and relate with more awareness, intention and love…experiencing this huge shift as an individual and developing a community as people practice together, THAT is why I love what I am doing.

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A True American Dream Fulfilled

I love having the opportunity to write about truly inspiring people. Small business owner Elsa Talavera is one of them. She’s not only uber successful, but she’s one of the sweetest people I’ve met:

“Elsa Talavera has a knack for achieving what she sets her mind to. Born and raised in the Philippines, she says, “When I was there, I used to think, ‘I’d love to go to America.’ ” In 1980, following her grandparents’ lead, she made a life-changing decision to immigrate to Hawaii.

She worked as a registered nurse on Oahu for several years before she accomplished her next dream: owning her own business. But it was no small feat.”

You can read more about her on the Hawaii Business magazine website here

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People Who Inspire Me

2013 has already started with a few unexpected surprises.

One started with this little comment I wrote for O magazine. It was the second Q&A comment that got selected in the past few years only this time I was writing from Kailua instead of San Jose. And that’s not the only thing that was different. The first piece got a sweet compliment from my mom who generously bought a copy. But not much else.

This time, however, I was overwhelmingly surprised.

When it got published, I didn’t even know it made it to the January issue. In Hawaii, magazines take longer since they got to come all this way to a little island. It was the comment from a stranger, someone named Jan who left me this comment on my writing site:

“I am reading the current “O” mag and if you are the Brandi-Ann on page 20, I’d just like to say that your wish for a superpower that would allow you to respond to any situation with complete compassion had me saying “YES”, that’s the one I have been looking for also. Thanks for putting it so beautifully.”

The idea that this person took the time out to find me on the internet to leave me a note like that brought tears to my eyes. It meant that someone actually read what I wrote. But not just that. It meant that someone got what I was trying to say and was affected by it. As a writer, you couldn’t ask for a better response. I was so grateful for Jan, the random stranger who made my day!

And then yesterday, I got another love bomb. A personal card came to me via snail mail. It was written by a woman who also read my short letter. She wrote about how reading it was an “ah ha” moment for her and how it changed the way she saw her business. This was my favorite part:

Thank you card thank you card inside

“Thank you for the courage to be open enough to share with the rest of the world your innermost thoughts…Thank you again for helping change my life!”

I don’t know if the short paragraph I compiled for O really had that much of an impact on the lives of these two women. But I know this for sure. Their letters changed my life. I wish I could thank them the way they took the time to thank me. It reminded me why I write and it inspired me to keep going.

Has anyone inspired you lately?

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Trying to Inspire Others? Look Within

I’ve always been obsessed with inspiring people. Hence, this blog and the ones before it. It’s why I seek out inspirational people for interviews, why I can’t stop reading inspiring books and the reason for my Twitter name @2inspired and Facebook page. You can say it’s my passion. I live to be inspired by others.

But in my quest to be inspired, I’d never expect to be an inspiration to others.

Well, sure I want to inspire others to change. But like this famous couple said, they live an “inspired life” versus an “inspiring one.”

It’s a subtle, but meaningful difference. It’s not just about being humble and sincere. But the belief that we’re just ordinary people, with extraordinary lives or something along those lines.

I feel the same exact way. There’s nothing really inspiring about me. Or is there?

It’s a question I’ve been contemplating lately after I got an email from someone who wanted to interview me. After passing it off as spam (because why would anyone want to talk with me about being inspiring?) a second email finally hit me. It’s real!

It reminded me of a friend who once told me I didn’t realize how inspiring I was and that there were people who wished they had my life. It got me thinking:

HOW MANY OF YOU ARE OUT THERE DOING THE SAME THING?

You’re afraid of taking a leap and falling heart first into your dreams. And what’s keeping you from doing so is that you don’t truly believe you have anything unique to offer the world. So you give your business half-ass attention instead of a kick-ass one.

Symptom:

You get stuck on a certain project your working on. You can’t finish your about us page or you give up on applying for a job you really really want. You have a business, but you can’t seem to inspire others to take the steps toward a call to action.

Solution:

Imagine you are the person who inspires you most. If you’re a writer, write a bio for your client (yourself). If you’re an artist, create something hero worthy. As a teenager when test anxiety hit, I’d pretend I was someone really smart and confident and then I’d ace the test. See yourself the way you see the people you admire most and you may discover your own inspiration within yourself.

For me to do the interview (which I am doing and will give you the details soon!), I needed to step outside my own situation and remember who I was and where I came from. When we get too caught up in where we have yet to travel, instead of where we have already been, we lose sight of the valuable lessons along the way.

I’m constantly surprised when the writer’s group that I started generously commends me for the writing that I have had published. I could easily and have pushed those compliments aside. After all, I have so much more I need to do and am far from my writing goals. But then I remember how far I have come in a year and in my lifetime and then I can embrace where I have been and have compassion for all those who are attempting to travel on that same road.

Like you. Are you there too?  Look within for the answers.

Hi there! Glad you stopped by!

You’ve found one of my blogs on everything inspiring.  I also have one on writing and freelancing tips for new writers and entrepreneurs here. If you are in search of a writer to get all of your words in order, I’d love to work with you!

I am a published writer, blogger, and copywriter that can help you with all of your writing needs. You can find out more about me here.

You can also sign up for my RSS feed, join in the conversation on Facebook or tweet me @2inspired. I’d love to hear from you! Thanks for finding me!

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What’s Up With You Lately and How You Can Use It to Inspire Others

Ah there’s something amiss. Did you see it? Have you felt it?

It’s you.

Covered under a wave of insecurity and oblivion. Too busy to notice the “you” that’s in process.

I was watching Oprah the other day and admiring the women who courageously put themselves on the line to start change in life. It was so inspiring that I almost forgot myself in the process.

Have you ever done that? And are you doing that now?

Bypassed the triumphs, celebrations, and obstacles you’ve overcame because you were too busy and obsessed with what others have done?

It’s easy to overlook your own successes when, for example, you think about how far you are from where you want to go. Or when you look over your shoulder and sit in the shadow of someone else’s grandeur.

It’s easy and understandable, but if this post reminds you to stop doing so, then that’s a good thing. Because remembering what makes you unique and embracing your own journey can only help lift you higher and get your business going farther, if you do so.

Next time you catch yourself looking over your brother’s shoulder, smile, be happy for him, then take a bow. Because something tells me that if you’re reading this, you too have come along way from the difficulties and adversity in your own life. And for that you need to celebrate, be grateful, cherish who you are and be proud of sharing your obstacles with others.

That’s how you become inspiring. And that’s how you transform where you are into the dream you have for yourself.

So good luck, my friends! And standing ovation for you all.

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How to Live an Inspiring Life: Advice from the Professionals

I’ve always been fascinated by inspiring people. You know those that go beyond the ordinary, heart first into the extraordinary.

They’ve done things that most people wouldn’t dare do, let alone dream.

They are the people that motivate and inspire me.

So when attempting to be inspiring, I thought I’d go straight to the source and asked everyone from inspiring blogger Sherry Petersik from my favorite home decor site Young House Love to social media superstar Annabel Candy this question:

How do you live an inspiring life? Continue reading →

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