Denise and I first met when I stumbled into one of her open classes in Bali. After several years at the helm of her own studios in Portland, she came to share her talents and inspiration with the community in Ubud. I was quickly drawn to her clear and direct practice with all of its challenges and rewards. She offers ways of laughing with and enjoying hard work… something we all benefit from.
Her depth of practice with the chakra system, her constant reminders of ground, bandhas and breath and her lightness have been key factors in understanding my participation as a creator with life.
You’ve been teaching for many years in many places. What are the top 3 recurring lessons that come up in all these different places and times- for your students and/or yourself?
I don’t think they are lessons, per se. Recurring reminders are that
1) We can always do more than we think we can.
2) What happens to us happens for us.
3) People can change.
What scares you? Do you have any specific practices when fear arises?
That’s a good question, Kevin. I do have fears, where to begin…
Fear is when I know 2 things for sure: that I’m alive and that it’s time to get to work. Clean the kitchen, organize my closet, balance my budget, then get on the mat and sweat. Usually in that order, and works every time.
Effort vs. surrender. Which one, when and why?
You can’t have one without the other. The effort is where everything begins. Any new thing we learn always starts with the physical and effort is involved. With a lot of practice, and an allowance and understanding of the process of learning, we get to the stage of surrender. This might happen quickly with some and take more time with others. Effort is often underrated and given some negative connotations. Embrace the effort and know that surrender is coming.
Where does expression come from?
Expression comes from the culmination of all our experiences, whether blissful or traumatic, as they make their way up from the ground floor of the physical body and spew out in whatever form through the 5th chakra. The 2nd chakra is often thought of as the chakra of creativity, but it is the pleasure center. Expression/creativity is all about Vishuddha.
What is art and how does it play in your life?
Art, to me, is the process, not the outcome. Everything we do can be done artistically. The exciting and new to the mundane and tedious. This moment is the only one we know we have for sure, so if you’re bagging groceries, painting a mural, dancing, doing asana, etc… when the energy is free and flowing then art is in progress. Art can’t hurt you.
One thing you wish more people knew…
That it’s not what you do, it’s what you think about what you do that matters.