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Yoga Can Change the World

by Jarrod Denson

Photography by Erik Asla

On the mat, Seane Corn is an internationally acclaimed yoga practitioner and teacher. How she takes her practice off the mat is another story.

What does a green lifestyle mean to you?

It means living mindfully, looking at the big holistic picture, seeing how everything connects, then making sure I’m in alignment with that connection and not part of a push-back.  It also means living sustainably because the personal choices I make impact the planet. I own 14 acres of land in Topanga, California. Eventually I’m going to build a house on it. My current home is seven minutes away, but in the meantime, I put up a 700-square-foot yurt as an experiment—because I’d rather make mistakes on a small scale. The yurt has decks that are made of recycled Coca-Cola bottles. The floor is bamboo and the wood is dark, not because it has been stained, but because the sugar inside the bamboo turns it into a very rich color. It’s all insulated with organic material and has a rain cachement system but no electricity.  Eventually I’ll put in solar panels and hook up water.

Will you have yoga classes there?

It would be a really nice place for yoga classes, because it overlooks the ocean. If I take out all the furniture it can hold 35 yoga mats. But that would be down the line. Right now it’s just a place where my friends and I gather, and where I can go to get a little quiet and respite from my travels.

You do service work through your organization Off the Mat, into the World (offthematintotheworld.org). This February you will be in Calcutta working with victims of human trafficking.  How do you keep your emotions in check so you can serve best?

My advice to myself and to anyone who is going to be standing in the presence of any kind of struggle is to breathe, keep your heart open and to ask yourself always, again and again and again:What do I need to heal so that I can be an instrument?

You co-founded YogaVotes, which encourages yogis in the U.S. to vote, and Oasis, a collaboration with Huffington Post that brought yoga to both political conventions last summer.  Politics is so polarized today and, true to form, opinions were not all favorable. How did that make you feel?

Everything I do is an extension of knowing my purpose. I’m very committed and feel guided to do certain things. There have been challenges and mistakes along the way. But I don’t allow public opinion or perception to get in the way of what I know in my soul is right and true for my path and my own personal development. I try not to let my limited beliefs or my own insecurity get in the way of a bigger purpose that I’m only a part of. I’m used, in a sense, to fulfill a larger vision. If I let my limited beliefs dictate my choices I’d be frozen in fear and insecurity.

What do you do to fend off those beasts?

I have tools I use every day: yoga, meditation, prayer and therapy. It doesn’t mean that I don’t get my feelings hurt, or feel misunderstood and enraged at times. But if I have a big feeling around something, I can’t help but think that maybe there’s some truth there. I take responsibility for the choices, take the time to learn from it and see it as an opportunity for growth. I deal with my feelings, process as much as I can, and then I activate. My hope and dream—and I fail at this all the time—is to approach every situation from a place of compassion and love.

We’re in the season of New Year’s resolutions. What are yours?

Each year I try to step up my game in terms of how I love people in my life more, to apply the same compassion to the people in my personal life that I do to students, to people I don’t know as well, or that I’m not as emotionally invested in.

Do you have any tips on how others can formulate resolutions that work?

Give yourself the resolution of self-forgiveness every single day. Forgive yourself for not living up to whatever expectation or goal you set for yourself and instead resolve that you will live in absolute gratitude for where you are.

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