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View from the Sub's Mat
View from the Sub's Mat

Not only that, but the way I personally have designed my life, I am working toward financial independence. Which means I do my very best to diversify myself, and how I make money. That means I don’t just show up to class, lead you through some poses, count how many classes I teach, or how many people are in my class. I would die a slow death if I did that. No, there is much more going on behind the scenes. I don’t go home and plan out my sequencing and make a detailed layout of my playlist. I wish! I used to do that but now there is MUCH more happening.

I mean, most yogis I know, myself included, have a bigger message than how to lengthen your hamstrings, although, to be fair and honest, we ALL have to start somewhere. When I first started out, I never left my mat. Literally! I would teach the entire class and never step off my mat! Not only that, but I completely focused on the physical practice. There was really nothing spiritual about my teaching. I was just trying to get through class and remember what I was going to teach next!

But as I grew into myself and continue to grow into my Self, my teaching has changed and it will continue to change I guess, because we all know that if we’re still here, we’re supposed to be evolving!

So I finally got “off” my mat: I walked around the room, traveled to other studios, wrote workshops and trainings, filmed online videos, wrote a book, and began speaking to hundreds of people at a time about whatever I thought was important at the time. That’s diversifying myself to make money while I sleep and reach all kinds of people. This takes courage and humility.

To bring your message out into the world, whatever it is, takes a ton of courage and humility. What you have to say is important and only you know what it is and how you’re going to do it. But you must know that each of has an important message and we must share it.

In order for me to step forth courageously (sometimes feeling like I might pee my pants), there is most likely someone, stepping in for me while I am away. In the yoga world, we call them “subs”. These subs are doing just what we are doing while we are away. Stepping out courageously and humbly to live their passion and hoping you will show up for class in our absence.

They are not going to try and teach like us, be like us, or model us. They are going to show up as themselves and we can’t really expect anything else.

I remember the very first time I subbed for my dear friend Fran Olinger in Vancouver, Washington at … what the heck was the name of that tennis club …. I think Green Mountain. Anyway, I walked in to sub for her, scared to death, unable to eat I was so nervous, and three people rolled up their mats and left before I even had a chance to start class.

Inside I was DEVASTATED. All the scripts of not being good enough played out in my mind and the voices inside my head screamed at me while I fumbled through class. I knew I was being judged and it sucked! For two weeks I really sat with this whole yoga thing and pondered if it was for me or not.

I realized it was for one reason: I needed to grow beyond the “I’m not good enough” tapes and do my best no matter what people thought.

But this is why I’m sharing this….

Go ahead and judge the sub if you want. I know it’s hard… you carve out this time for yourself and crap… it’s not “your teacher”. But guess what … this person who is there, is there because they love what they do and they want to share it with YOU! Not only that, but if you allow your mind to go on and on about what they are doing “wrong” or “different” you are going to miss the message you are supposed to hear. Trust me.

And know this … we have ALL been there. We have all been in the awkward position of stepping into our own, at one point or another in our lives. Everyone needs to elevate themselves to the next level of their being. Everyone.

Personally, I believe that if we ALL embraced each other where we were at, the world would be a very different place. And it would be nice if we all supported each other in becoming just that, our best … no matter what we think or what we expect.

When I first took yoga training, some 13 years ago, the rules were: let go of judgment, expectation and competition. I still use those words every, single day. We all have a place and that place shifts and grows with us. Nothing stays the same … we might as well love what shows up right?

By Dana Damara


“My passion on the mat is proper alignment, powerful breath and effortless flow so you feel that off your mat. Your practice becomes sacred space where you arrive to find more meaning, depth, authenticity and integrity in your life."

- Dana Damara: mother, author, yoga instructor, speaker and yogini.

Visit for more inspiration from Dana.

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Hearts Wide Open 

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