Video Podcast with Fiji McAlpine: Forging Your Yoga Journey

Written by Heather Burkart

I'm passionate about helping women unlock their greatest potential to experience the energy, focus, and mood that they deserve.
Watch the video podcast and meet Fiji!

Video Podcast with Fiji

Forge your yoga journey! Below is the video podcast transcript (summarized) about how Fiji McAlpine forged her own yoga journey and how you can do the same.

HEATHER: Welcome to the Her Well Being Podcast where women can be embraced and empowered by the sister sciences of Ayurveda and Yoga to unlock their greatest potential. My guest today is yoga teacher Fiji McAlpine E-RYT of DoYogaWithMe.com. Welcome, Fiji!

FIJI: Thank you so much, Heather, for having me here today and having this conversation with me.

Heather: I’m so glad you’re here, Fiji. I think we have a lot to talk about.

First, I want to give you the opportunity to add to the bio I just offered.

FIJI: I’ve been practicing Yoga for over 20 years and teaching for 20 years as well. I started in California and now I live in British Columbia, Canada. This is sort of my hub where I teach from home. I teach online a lot. Then I get to go out into the world and meet people in different countries and share this phenomenon and practice of yoga that is so universal and is so healing for all of us.

It doesn’t matter where we are, we can all come together, come onto the same mat and share our experiences and grow together through yoga. I just feel so lucky that the thing that is my passion and that I absolutely love and live every day is also the thing that I get to go out and do in the world. So, I’m excited to talk all things yoga, Ayurveda, growth, self-learning in our conversation today.

HEATHER: That’s great. And yes, we will dive into those topics shortly. But first, I would love to know what it was that brought you to yoga.

A Personal Story of Injury & Recovery with Yoga

FIJI: Yeah, it’s always such a fun conversation when you meet another yogi to be asking that question. For me, it’s quite an uncommon story of an injury. At an uncommon time of my life, actually. I was in my early 20’s and got a fairly significant back injury that was causing me chronic pain and wasn’t going away and was pretty much all day long.

I was pretty desperate and willing to try anything. I did physiotherapy. I did chiropractic, I did everything that Western doctors told me to do, and nothing was really working. And finally, a physio that I had been seeing for some time suggested that I try yoga and thought that it might be beneficial.

I went to relieve the pain in my back, which did end of up happening and found so much more, which I think is also something that’s quite common with most people is they go for whatever the reason is. There’s just some reason that you get dragged in that door the first time, and then you have an experience.

I had a [yoga] experience that helped heal me physically, but at that point in my life, it also helped to heal more than just my physical body.

It helped, I think, really to heal my mind, my thinking, some emotional turmoil that I was going through at that pivotal time in my own life and my own growth. And I think it really shifted and changed the trajectory of my life. That if I didn’t have that back injury and didn’t end up becoming so devoted to yoga, initially in a dependence for the pain relief, I think my life would have gone a very different way.

My life is all about yoga now, and it wasn’t heading that way. It was very academically focused, sort of achievement driven. I think I would be a very different person sitting here. So, it’s interesting to reflect back on what brought me to yoga and how to roads forked, I think, that day.

HEATHER: Yes, and if you don’t mind me saying, I think that is not a mistake and I think it’s very telling about yoga’s transformative power. Yes, there’s usually a hook. And once you’re drawn in and you have an experience, that not everyone has, but those of us who are lucky enough to have had a yoga experience, we get pulled in for even more. Sometimes it’s more than we signed up for. This brings me to my next question about personal growth.

Yoga and Opportunity for Personal Growth

I firmly believe that yoga is a wonderful tool for personal growth. And maybe you can speak to that a little bit. How you talked about how it helped you on the path of recovery. So, how might you weave in personal growth or even overcoming obstacles into that story?

FIJI:

I think the real impact of yoga on my life and most people is that it changes your self-perception over time in a good way. Human beings can do pretty amazing things. We can build skyscrapers, we can move mountains, but to change our self-perception of ourselves is an immense feat or accomplishment.

And, rarely done I think in this day and age but is very possible and we learned that through yoga it is possible within a single lifestyle to have this inner evolvement. You can go from you know insecurity to having a sense of inner security and from fear into love and from bashing yourself or degrading yourself constantly to having compassion for yourself regularly.

And this happens through what I call, when I’m teaching, I can them little millimeter miracles. So, your poses rarely go from one stage to this optimal level overnight. It’s a really slow progression to get from not being able to do it at all to kind of being able to do this new pose.

It’s in those tiny millimeter miracles that you’re making all of these inner changes when you’re confronting resistance or self-doubt or again, that self-criticizing, you know, or why am I achieving, or the ego rising up? So you’re meeting these different resistant points all throughout that journey as you move towards getting more into that pose.

And, in doing so, you’re actually changing your inner anatomy. You’re changing your own neurology in the way that you think about things by allowing yourself to constantly rub up against that resistance. I think that really you find out who you are through yoga and then begin to mold more into who you want to be, what you want to reveal about yourself. I think it’s about a deeper understanding of course of who you are in the moment and where you’re going and what you’re growing into.

And so the personal growth piece for me isn’t about being able to do handstand or the splits. The personal growth is what happens in the journey of trying to work towards that. And it’s one of the reasons when I teach, I don’t often adjust very much. I don’t want to fast forward anyone’s journey towards a pose. I kind of want them to struggle in the weeds for a while to learn their own way and to realize that it’s in those moments of discomfort that we often grow the most. And so I really believe that there is personal growth that takes place when we change the way we think about ourselves. When we change the we also we think about the world that we think of outside of ourselves.

When we look at that pose like handstand and we say, that’s impossible. There’s no way I’m ever going to do that. Then one day, if you find yourself doing handstand, what does that mean? It means that the impossible just became possible.

That’s just changed the way that I see that I view life now and I see it in my students as well. It’s the cool thing about being a teacher, which I’m sure you get to witness is when you work with people over time.

You get to watch the magic happen. You get to watch students change, their self-perception change. You get to see the growth, not just in their practice or their body, but you see the growth in their mind. And that’s what’s so affirming and exciting about yoga.

HEATHER: I agree with you that it’s the little steps that help us get to where we are going. Sometimes when we take those really large steps that maybe we’re not ready for that’s where injury might happen. This is when we’re not possibly being true to ourselves or maybe not being as mindful. That first tenet of yoga being Ahimsa and having compassion. For a lot of people, it might not be handstand. It might be a fare simpler pose that can be quite difficult.

I think every pose has an opportunity buried within it, as you say, as you’re getting to know that pose, you’re getting to know yourself.

video podcast with Fiji McAlpine forging your yoga journey and where to start
Source: Fijimcalpine.com

And so, I do agree that it is a self-discovery journey. We might see obstacles as unsurmountable, but they may seem a little bit more realistic as we can see ourselves progressing. And you’re right, the mind is very much involved because if we can’t think we can do something then most likely we can’t. Yoga really helps stretch, big pun there, like you said, it really does help us stretch into what’s possible.

Yoga became established here first and has since exploded here in the West. however, Ayurveda has slowly followed behind. But before we get into that, how do people choose? How do people choose where to start?

FIJI: Yeah, I think it’s really interesting too that you made that point about how the asana practice is just hit the ground running here and then Ayurveda comes along. It’s almost like people are just not paying attention, more now so thank goodness. And that is really telling about the sort of universal mind of the West, our collective mind so to speak, and how the attention here seems to work.

It’s very much focused on the big, shiny things, right? So, the things that are physical the things that are visible so that’s really where our attention goes. And so, for me, it’s not surprising how popular asana practice is in the West. The cool thing is, it’s like a gateway. It’s a gateway drug in a good way, is that it opens the gateway to all of the other things to come in. So, we kind of have to, we have to meet this population where it is.

And thank goodness there is a meeting place and people are more open to this. They might just step in and that very superficial level of just want my physical body to feel a little better, to be a bit healthier, to be a little more flexible or strong. They might come in what that really superficial desire and then other things begin to start to follow. So where do we start? Because like you said there is every style of yoga and everyday there seems to be a new, emerging style.

The First Steps: How to Start Your Yoga Journey?

I think about first finding out what’s your intention. What is your intention for wanting to start the practice and getting really clear on that and be super honest about it. Is it because of flexibility? Do I really want to start because I need to calm my nervous system down? I want to start this because I want to develop physical strength in my body. I think if you get really clear on what your intention is, it does help to focus a little bit more into what style might be a good starting place.

Then what I really recommend people to do is be that annoying person at the ice cream stand who wants to sample every single flavor before they decide which cone they’re going to get. So, I think too many people try going to yoga once and they say, I tried that, and it wasn’t for me. I didn’t like it. I can tell you I have gone to a couple dozen yoga classes in my life that didn’t really float my boat and didn’t really enjoy them. I’m really happy they weren’t my first classes. I wouldn’t have gone back. They weren’t terrible by any means, but they definitely didn’t inspire me to go again. If that had been my first experience or my only experience, I might not be on this path.

Be open to getting a broad sample before you decide whether or not yoga is something that you can really pursue.

Give yourself the opportunity to try a vinyasa style class, a Hatha class, a restorative class. Go and try a few different styles and also the important thing is trying a lot of different teachers. I am one source of teaching yoga. Heather, you are one source of teaching it. We’re all sharing from the same amazing source. Each of us teaching it doesn’t make the other source any less amazing. So really go and find teh one that resonates with you.

Find the person who makes you feel like you want to be back in their presence. So it’s the style and also the connection with your teacher that will help you create a sense of consistency and openness to personal growth. I always tell people, if I’m your first ever teacher, I want you to go out into the world and try some other teachers, too. Finding a resource where you can go to a studio and sample many different teachers or styles like the website I teach on, DoYogaWithMe.com. I think we have 32 teachers on there and all different styles of yoga.

HEATHER: Yes, that’s what’s so beautiful about yoga is that yoga expresses itself differently through all of us, all the teachers and students. I even think, just find a teacher that you like. The approach might not matter as much as long as you like it and find it doable. I’d say connect with a teacher because that human connection may keep you coming back.

The Two Sister Sciences Reunited: Ayurveda & Yoga in the West

I mentioned Ayurveda before, the sister science of Yoga. Maybe you can tell me a little bit about how you weave Ayurveda into your yoga teaching. What are you offering to people, whether they know about Ayurveda or not?

FIJI: That’s the great thing I love about yoga, too, is that you don’t need to know where your Third Chakra is to still receive the benefits that this practice is doing for you. Same with Ayurveda. You don’t necessarily have to understand all the underpinnings to still be able to receive the benefits if you’re doing the practices.

So, with Ayurveda, the reasons that I love that overlap, of course, Ayurveda looks at the human being as a multi-layered being and acknowledges that while we may have many layers to ourselves, they are all also one. So, there is unique attributes to each of the koshas that we are, but they’re all one. There’s five Koshas but you add them all together and it equals one instead of five.

I look at yoga the same way. It’s this reuniting of the different aspects of ourselves, the physical aspect, the energetic aspect, the mental aspects of ourselves. We see it all where it overlaps in the subtle body and the merging of that. And so I try to bring some of that into the teaching to introduce it slightly, giving people that foundation and then also expand up on that in yoga helps us to get to know ourselves better and then be able to take care of ourselves better. The better you know yourself, the better you can care for yourself.

Ayurveda allows us to find the instruction manual for ourselves and everyone’s different. So the instruction manual for me is different than yours. So yoga, helps to reinforce that each of us are incomparable, unique beings.

So, we shouldn’t be comparing ourselves to others because that would be a waste to time. And Ayurveda has the same principle of we’re not comparing you to someone else to you, we’re comparing you to you. How is you today doing in comparison to how well you could be doing today if you understand your inner workings a little better.

Read the blog post Ayurveda & Yoga: Better Together

We might start with understanding what is my composition, what’s happening inside my body? What are my body’s energetic tendencies? If you know those basic foundations, then it might inform you as to how you navigate food or energetically or behaviorally in your life, bringing in a little bit of that inner constitution.

I also love to teach a seasonal approach. I teach a program called Yoga Year and it is a tie-in together of yoga and Ayurveda. I like to bring in the seasons because it’s constant reminder that everything is in cycle, everything is in process, including us. How do the energies and the elements change every season? How does that impact my body?

What can I do to allow myself to be the best version of yourself now with that new information? I find yoga is a practice of expanding mindfulness and consideration. We can extend past how we move into how we’re thinking, what is the impact of that, how we’re speaking or how we’re acting. Also, how am I eating? What are the behaviors that we’re doing and how is that impacting my body?

What should I be doing more of? What should I be doing less of? Ayurveda is also looking at maintaining healthy balances which is what we learn in yoga, too. How to maintain and create those healthy balances. They are one in the same for me, but they’re unique aspects of that wholeness that we see.

Listen to the full video podcast here.

Fiji McAlpine is an ERYT 500 yoga instructor and is one of the founding yoga teachers featured on DoYogaWithMe.com. Her online popularity has grown significantly over the years, giving her global reach in the online platform, and has allowed her to offer frequent guidance to thousands of students each week. Fiji is now devoting more time and energy into bringing a personal experience to those who have practiced with her for so long. She has been offering retreats and workshops around the world to connect with her global yoga family and to share her love for this practice.

Check out Fiji’s classes on DoYogaWithMe.com

Learn more about Fiji.

Check out Her Well Being’s YouTube Channel for the latest yoga video with Heather! Explore yoga practices that support reproductive health.

Her Well Being Ayurveda & Yoga – YouTube

Learn more about Heather here.

Thanks for listening!

~ Heather

Ayurveda practitioner for women

Learn more about me.

Heather R. Burkart

Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner

Founder, Her Well Being Ayurveda & Yoga

Please be advised that the content on this website is for education and information purposes only and does not replace advice from a medical professional.

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