Interview with Stephanie Spence
The Yogi Press talks to Stephanie Spence about Life, Yoga and her upcoming book “YOGA Wisdom.”
Stephanie has been a yogi for 38 years. She is a certified yoga teacher and author. Today she speaks to “The Yogi Press” about her life and her upcoming book “Yoga Wisdom”.
“The longest and most wonderful journey you will ever make is from your head to your heart.” - Stephanie Spence
YP: How did you get into Yoga?
Stephanie: I was 19 and always suffering from back pain. Doctors handed me pain medication like candy. Thankfully a friend who was the trainer for the heavyweight boxing champion of the world at that time said to me, “What’s your plan? You can’t take that forever. Have you heard of Yoga?” It was 1980 and I was in Texas. I tried it and my pain reduced. The teacher only spoke in Sanskrit. No mirrors, no music. I was hooked. It was instant love. People thought I was in a cult. I didn’t care. No drugs, no pain, and I quickly realized everything in my life was getting better.
YP: How has yoga helped you specifically?
Stephanie: Yoga has been my healthiest lifelong companion. It has taught me self-awareness. I have learned to listen to and act on my intuition. It has fascinated me endlessly by illuminating my flaws, strengths, lessons to be learned and been my friend. It was there during the dark moments of my life and there with me to celebrate the peak moments as well. It was there physically with me through two pregnancies, training for a marathon, and reducing everyday stress while creating, growing and sustaining my own magazine publishing company. Emotionally it has showed me my weaknesses and then eventually taught me to love those parts of myself that are just as perfect as the part that can perform the rock star poses. Spiritually it has shown me that I am light and love and part of the vast and limitless consciousness that we are all a part of.
YP: Which practices helped you deal with vulnerable moments in life?
Stephanie: Great question. Stillness, daily quiet contemplation, and journaling to reflect and design my moments, and meditation. Even if you sit quietly, close your eyes and feel the energy in your hands or your feet it slows the mind down, the thoughts settle. The physical practice of yoga is my gateway to stillness. Shavasana is where I rest in awareness. All of these combined with the courage to work through my darkest moments is a daily practice. I show up. Every day is different. After almost 40 years of practice the list is long as to specific practices, including chakra work, Tonglen meditation, mudras, pranayama, etc. For me, it took everything, especially my understanding that once I made friends and got interested in how I could grow as a person by moving through uncomfortable and challenging times, issues, poses, and situations (and reflection on how I wanted to show up for myself as my best self) I shifted from reacting to life to designing my life. Accountability is scary at times but powerful! Vulnerability is my superpower. Truth is my sword. I became a spiritual warrior when I embraced my flaws and unique voice. Yoga held me like a loving and wise partner when I simply checked out of my life till I learned how to embrace all aspects of myself and love myself as is.
YP: Which are your most valued practices now?
Stephanie: Practicing gratitude. Practicing mindful presence. Practicing daily morning journaling combined with yoga – as a way to recognize limiting patterns, thoughts, or behaviors and design my day as my best self to live limitlessly.
YP: Could you state five yoga life lessons in 1 sentence each?
Stephanie: “This, too, shall pass: dwell in the peace of the moment by stopping, closing your eyes, and breathing.”
“We are all connected: be kind.”
“I am comfortable in my skin, I know who I am, and I love myself as is.”
“I am fiercely courageous and powerful beyond measure.”
“The longest and most wonderful journey you will ever make is from your head to your heart.”
YP: What would you tell a younger you?
Stephanie: I wrote a letter to a young Stephanie.
Hey, it’s me. I have stuff to tell you, so listen up.
I know it’s weird being the only person you know who leaves school early to drive to a job. Although it’s rough now thinking that everyone else is just having fun, the publishing house you’re working at will someday hang YOUR magazine from YOUR very own publishing house on their wall because they’re so proud of you. That same publishing house will be gone once your book comes out because they couldn’t progress with the times. Keep fluid, don’t resist change. Grow, change, keep taking risks but there is no failure, only lessons. They’ll be proud of you none-the-less. What’s more important is how proud of yourself you’ll be.
Your hard work ethic is going to make you a lot of money and get you a lot of respect when you’re older. The best part, though, is with that money and power you’ll be able to help a lot of people. You’ll work with over thirty charities and serve on numerous charitable boards. You’ll even serve on the board of a Film Office, which will be so much fun.
People may say now that you’re hyper, but they will rephrase that and describe you as “full of energy.” You’ll embrace being an athlete and compete in running events. You’ll be so strong you will be able to do any yoga posture you want to. So… let’s talk about yoga.
You will get to yoga because of competitive water skiing. Yes, I know that no one figured out you have scoliosis. Your back pain will be the greatest gift you ever got. It’s going to help you shape the life of your dreams – no… a life beyond anything you can imagine now. An epic adventure. Yoga will be your healthiest lifelong companion.
I know it’s hard hiding behind terrible things that happened to you. You’re wearing a mask. You have become a chameleon. The girl that is wearing headgear and braces and feels so much guilt and shame for almost everything will come into her beauty later in life. And the geeky, smart girl that is dumbing down will come to be proud of all of her unique feminine assets – especially her brain. That’s what ya got, kid. Time to make it work and carry on. Don’t buy into the drama and negativity and abuse that surrounds you.
You should listen to your own small, simple voice that tells you that you WILL travel the world, live at the beach and shine as a communicator. In fact, you’ll be thrilled you were in the band and symphony – and tried track, drill team and drama. You’ll quit playing small, trying to fit in.
Just so you know, you’re never going to fit in, and when you’re older, it just won’t matter anyway. Not fitting in will be your superpower – different will be good. You’re an original. When you’re in your computer class learning to program and code, later when the information age arrives you’ll be ahead of the curve. So, work on your writing. Hide that journal. You’ll make a career of that writing someday. You’ll be your own boss. You’ll surround yourself with exceptional people. You’ll inspire and share. You’ll live your dharma.
YP: What inspired you to write Yoga Wisdom?
Stephanie: My book was inspired by my 4,000 mile life-transforming Yoga Road Trip where I rediscovered and redefined my life while interviewing over 100 yoga teachers who share how they also use yoga to live a life of pure potential.
YP: How can your book help empower young people?
Stephanie: By illuminating the truth that it’s ok to not have it all figured out. By being positive and sharing thoughts and ideas that they can use now. To see that the universe is made up of interactions that stimulate the energy and growth within a community they are welcome and wanted in. By sharing our stories authentically and teaching it’s ok to make mistakes. By creating an environment that celebrates both successes and failures and that there is a tool – yoga, that will help them do just that for themselves.
Yoga Wisdom takes you on the road of life with people who are full of self-love and radiating balance, so you can create that for yourself. Once you meet these life instructors, you can manifest everything you need to make a difference in your life and the lives of those around you. Physically showing up on your yoga mat is just the beginning. The real secrets and power of yoga come with determination and patience.
“Believing that sanctuary is something we choose in the silent, private space of our hearts and create in the loud, colorful space of our togetherness, Stephanie has written a book about what we choose for ourselves and what we create together.”
–Rolf Gates, Author of Meditations From The Mat
“Stephanie Spence has contributed a book to the collective consciousness of the modern-day yoga movement in a time when strong, compassionate voices need to be heard. We know that whomever holds this book will be uplifted by its content and inspired to share with loved ones in their life.” –Claudine Lafond, Yoga Teacher