Yoga Black Belt

Name: Lisa A. Tyler
Location: Ellijay, GA, USA
Occupation: Kripalu yoga teacher, life coach, artisan, organic farmer & more

Photo attritubed to Flickr user carderel.

They say when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. In 1995, I was a newly divorced Mom, jaded by love and life, burning out from a 50-hour-a-week marketing job. The one outlet I had for stress relief was a martial arts class. Punching and kicking practice bags, then pulling on gloves to spar with big bouncer type guys, I was always scared but determined to stand up for myself. I kept getting winded (and wounded) during the sparring sessions, and heard that yoga had something to do with breathing. So I signed up for a class in order to become a better warrior.

The instructor, Margo, floated in wearing white gauzy cotton and a serene smile. In contrast, I was decked out in black lace spandex, wearing an inch of makeup, jewelry, and an attitude. Just beneath the surface, I wore a full suit of armor to cover my heart and emotions. She led us through Warrior 1 and 2, familiar martial arts stances that I cockily used to compare myself to the other students. Some of them appeared to be struggling . . . weaklings!

At the end of class, Margo invited us to go home and sit in silence for five minutes or so, just to see what might happen. I set my egg timer for exactly five minutes and sat cross-legged in front of my patio window. Closed my eyes. Took a deep breath. And started sobbing. It was the first time in years, maybe decades, that I’d allowed myself space to feel. To connect. To just be.

A voice came from inside me – not from my head where I usually talk to myself, but from the depths of my Being. It said “You are on the path. And it is the right one.” The floodgates really opened then, as old wounds broke open and tears washed everything cleaner. The guilt I’d felt about divorcing lessened. Compassion took its place. I knew that I was on the right path. And this knowing has carried me ever since. I left that job and that city, and became a healer using massage therapy, energy work, and coaching to help others move through their wounded places.

Margo and I remain good friends, and I eventually became certified to teach yoga and meditation in addition to martial arts. She told me once, “I knew from that first day that you were a yoga teacher.” I asked in amazement, “How did you ever see through my disguise?”

Lisa A. Tyler, a long-time Kripalu yoga & meditation teacher, practices in the serene forests of Northern Georgia. Her inspirational blog Overtly Simple is dedicated to folks who also wish for a simpler, more sustainable way of life. Living in a 285 sq. ft. cabin, Lisa repurposes materials into hand-crafted items such as crocheted yoga mat bags. She offers life coaching to yoga teachers and students. To learn more, contact

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