Each time I feature another yogi in the Yogis of Color series, I smile with my entire heart. There are so many people out there touching the world with yoga. They are unique but share an enormous ability to give. Sometimes it’s classes in their local community. Sometimes it’s inspiring others with service. And in this case, it’s the gift of the time they give to share their own journey. Yoga is for everyone.
Meet Tracee Stanley…
When did yoga enter your life? When did you decide to teach? Why do you teach the kind of yoga that you teach?
I took my first Kundalini yoga class in 1995. I had an energetic experience in that class that kept me coming back 5 times a week for two years. During that time I discovered Ashtanga Vinyasa and continued to practice both consistently. When I read a translation of the Yoga Sutra’s I decided to search for a teacher who could lead me towards the full promise of yoga as outlined in the Sutra’s and it was then that I met Yogarupa. I immediately resonated with his Para Yoga style because it is sourced from an authentic lineage. The practice had power and true transformative effects. Once I saw the changes in my own life I wanted to share the teachings. In the film business a lot of the people I knew had plenty of money but they were spiritually bankrupt and miserable. I knew that yoga and specifically meditation practice could change lives, so I opened a donation-based studio to make yoga available to everyone.
What do you love most about teaching yoga?
I love when people have huge realizations about their worldview and how it limits them. I love seeing people make real changes in their lives because they have dedicated themselves to the practice, self study and transformation. I love seeing how they want to share what they have experienced. I love seeing how this spreads exponentially.
What does your personal practice look like? Who were/are your yoga inspirations?
My personal practice is daily early morning japa meditation practice. Yoga nidra 3 times a week. My asana practice is done twice a week at my local studio and twice a week at home.
My inspirations are my teacher Yogarupa Rod Stryker, Pandit Rajmani Tiguniat and Swami Rama. And of course I am always inspired by the teachers who are out there teaching, really doing the practice- sharing and thriving.
Do you think the face of yoga has become more inclusive?
Well that depends on what you mean by the “face” of yoga. I believe that the face of yoga is currently seen to be Yoga Journal and the various yoga festivals and conferences that are popping up everywhere. Yoga Journal has always managed to put a person of color on the cover at least once a year. But in my opinion we need to see more women and men of color inside the magazine and representing at conferences. I know they have a scholarship program for conferences but it should be marketed to underserved communities. Maybe they are already working on this but I just attended the YJ conference in San Diego a few months ago and I was literally one of about 5 Black people in attendance. As far as festivals go I have seen more than a few festivals where there is not a single teacher of color on the roster. So my answer is that while I see more people of color teaching in their own communities and practicing I don’t really see that reflected in advertising, yoga magazines and the people who are being elevated to teaching at national level.
How is yoga a part of your life?
Yoga at my life’s philosophical core. It is not retractable from my everyday experience. Since I am far from perfect I am always trying to refine and learn about my own limitations and move beyond them.
Is yoga physical for you? Or spiritual? Or both?
Because I practice asana it is physical. But I use asana coupled with other techniques to bring me to a spiritual experience in practice.
What is the most important piece of advice you would give to someone just starting yoga?
First, it would be that if you can breathe you can do yoga. It is not dependent on you being flexible. It does not require you to stand on your head. It is not dependent on you believing in some other religion. If you have a desire to live to your fullest potential and inspire others around you or be an agent of change in the world then yoga is for you. Find a teacher who resonates with you and start with a gentle practice like yin, viniyoga , yoga nidra or restorative. Then work your way from there.
Do you think there is something political about yoga? Do you follow the 8-fold path of yoga?
I think the business of yoga can be very political. As can hierarchy’s within certain yoga systems. But mostly I think is we all practiced mediation we’d have a lot more discernment and clarity about what is going on in the world. We would have less fear and anger and be able to move more skillfully through any situation that life presents.
I try to incorporate the 8 limbs in everything I do, whether it is business, relationships or my own practice. I am not always successful but I am trying every day to live my yoga.
Tracee Stanley began her yoga journey in 1995. Although she was fully entrenched in a career as a film producer she was inspired to share her understanding of yoga when she met her teacher Yogarupa Rod Stryker and was initiated by him into the Sri Vidya lineage. She cofounded and owned the Divine Motion Yoga studio chain from 2004-2012 and is currently developing an online advanced training program. Tracee has appeared in many magazines including Yoga Journal and is featured in YJ’s Yoga as Medicine by Dr. Timothy McCall. She collaborates with renowned spiritual teacher Marianne Williamson by bringing yoga to her Course in Weight Loss retreats and the upcoming Sister Giant event. She teaches workshops and retreats internationally and is on the weekend faculty of the Omega Institute for 2013. She continues to produce films and transformational content through her shingle Kundali Entertainment.
You can find out more about Tracee at her website
Tracee also has a link to a yoga nidra via her podcast.
Below is a 5-7 minute yoga chair practice for beginners. You can find lots of other videos on her YouTube channel Tracee Stanley Yoga