Using Fear to Your Advantage: An Interview with Yoga Instructor, Lisa Bermudez
One of the key traits of the incredible women I interview here on Gutsy Girl Living is that they all choose to live life to the fullest. Yoga instructor, skydiver, and full-on adventurer Lisa Bermudez is no exception. In fact, in an interview response below, she can't pick just one of her bravest moments. Nope, Lisa has four!
Please meet Lisa Bermudez:
How did you discover what you are pursuing now?
Right now, I'm focusing on two amazing pursuits: teaching yoga and skydiving.
Even though I've been teaching yoga full time since 2009, I believe teaching is an art that's always growing and evolving and it's important for me to always be a seeker of deeper knowledge. There's so much to learn and the practice is so deep, with tons and tons of different paths to take. It's not something you just stop working on and there isn't a day that eventually comes where you can say, "Ok, I've finally learned and mastered everything there is to learn" - which is what I love so much about it.
I discovered yoga through the dance program at the college I attended in NYC, but I decided I wanted to become a teacher while I was in grad school on Long Island. I'd been awarded a fellowship, which completely fell though, and the school gave me a fraction of the money I was supposed to receive. Instead of getting too angry about it, I took it all as a sign and used the money to cover my first yoga teacher training.
As far as skydiving goes, I discovered that the way most people do: a friend who wanted to go was trying to get a group of us together so we could all do our first tandem skydives (on a tandem, you're attached to the tandem master). It was August 2015, and it was probably the scariest, wildest, most beautiful experience I'd ever intentionally put myself into. The second we landed, I wanted to go right back up. If you've never experienced it, there's really no other experience that you can compare it to, so it's difficult to explain. I booked a second tandem skydive the next week and knew that it was something I had to explore. This past May 2016, I began my student program at Skydive The Ranch in Gardiner, NY and got my "A" license in July. I'm currently pursuing everything I can safely pursue as a new skydiver in the sport. It's one of those sports where once you learn something and you think you've got something down, about ten more doors open and you realize just how much more there is to learn. I love when that happens in life.
What is your boldest personal goal?
About six years ago, I began studying Bhakti Yoga. If you're not familiar with Bhakti, I like to explain it like this:
For a lot of us, when we wake up in the morning, we jump into the day thinking, "What does this awesome day have to offer me?" But through Bhakti, we begin to wake up thinking, "What do I have to offer this awesome day? How can my abilities, my talents, and everything I think I'm good at make life on this earth just a little bit better?"
My boldest personal goal is to continue to do my best to align my life with the philosophy and spiritual teachings of this practice, to stay connected to God through my work and experiences and adventures here on earth, and to work (really work) on using everything I study and practice to be the best friend, teacher, daughter, family member, girlfriend, etc I could possible be.
In fact, right around the time that I'd gotten sick and tired of hearing about yoga retreats to resorts (those are great for some, but they never were for me), and I began to get fed up with trying to align my goals with my job, I connected with Jordan Katz, founder of Souljourn Yoga, a nonprofit that arranges yoga retreats around the world to developing countries. In each country, Jordan teams up with an organization that specializes in somehow supporting girls education and a portion of everyone's retreat fee goes directly to the organization. It's fantastic, and I'm actually co-leading the May 2017 retreat to Peru with Joanne Silver: http://www.souljournyoga.com/
It's amazing what manifests when you tell the universe exactly what you want.
What does it mean to be gutsy?
To me, "gutsy" means to acknowledge that I'm about to do something that takes way more than good judgement, preparation, skill, study, and training. To do something "gutsy" means that you've already acknowledged that it's potentially very dangerous and probably not for the majority. It means that you're actively using the more extreme emotions, like fear, to your advantage and not letting those emotions overcome you. "Gutsy" means that you're summoning up something deep inside of yourself that moves you into the unknown and you know you can't ever turn away.
Please Share your bravest, gutsiest, Or craziest moment!
I don't know if I can only pick one - how about one for all three of those adjectives?
My bravest moment was definitely teaching my first yoga class. I'd imagine it's how any teacher feels during their first time teaching anything. There is a room of people looking at you, trusting you, and expecting you to move them in some way. Then there's you, fresh out of a training with so many new feelings and emotions. It was the first time I ever had to fully trust my knowledge and trust myself to deliver that knowledge in an honest way. It was pretty amazing.
My gutsiest moment was the whole entire series of moments that made up the jumps I had to complete to get my "A" License to skydive on my own. When you're standing in the door of a plane, which is roughly about 13,500 feet above the earth, it's pretty magical how much you can feel and how much you can learn about yourself in only a few seconds.
My craziest moments (sorry, I'm picking two!) were traveling to India and completing the Boiling Lake Hike in Dominica. I traveled to India for a few weeks in 2011, and even though I'd traveled to various parts of the world on my own before, that was the first time I was truly seeking out something spiritual.
I also co-led a yoga retreat to Dominica in 2015 with my colleague Joanne Silver, and we decided to take a group of yogis/adventurers on The Boiling Lake Hike. It was about 8-10 miles of extreme terrain, probably the most extreme I'd ever been on. The Boiling Lake is actually a flooded fumarole, a crack through which gases escape from the molten lava below, rather than a volcanic crater. It is 200 feet across, and its present depth is unknown. The water seeps through the bottom to the hot lava below where it is trapped and heated to boiling point. It was nuts. It was also pouring rain for the first 2-3 hours of the hike. And this hike was in the jungle, so the usual trails were washed out. We had to really mentally check-in. It was outstanding.
So, my dear reader, have you ever discovered a hobby that opened up new and exciting doors in your life? Let us know in the comments below, and please send Lisa some extra love!