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Selena Isles

Often called the Urban Yogi, I am a Yoga teacher, international DJ, Seriousblack and solo mother. 

After 25 years on and off the mat, I still refer to myself as student.

My journey officially started when in 1995, after a traumatic injury in the 4×400 relay ended my athletic career in 4 seconds.  I went from rising track star to injured athletic “has been”, spiralled into self despair, depression and negative connotations, losing scholarships, friends and everything that I “thought” I was. 

While recovering I found a copy of Autobiography of a Yogi which then led me to discover my mother’s copies of Light on Yoga, The Yoga Sutras, Malcolm X, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying and The Bhagavad Gita. I spent hours in the basement of my parents home, reading and healing and listening to a LOT of music and silence.

 

My mother was my first teacher and guru; it was through her guidance and teachings that I realized that Yoga had been weaving in and out of my childhood and adolescence and I ran from it at every turn.  I used to think yoga something my mom and elders did to keep cool, calm and collected in the face of us children. Yoga brought me back or at least lit the way out of the poor me spiral I was on.

It also forced me to rewrite my whole story, and what I believed to be true of myself; in essence before Brene Brown coined the term I had to lean in to the hard stuff and touch the face of vulnerability. I vowed at 19, to commit myself to some sort of path, so I moved to Thailand with no “real” yoga practice other than the asana and meditation I practiced at home with my mom a devote Iyengar student. I was like a fish out of water for the first time. I had to learn to lean in again and be vulnerable - this would be the first of many times.

 

While there I lived in a small ascetic village which affected my practice greatly, it was rugged day to day monastery living, offering oneself up to serve and being humbled in the most painfully extraordinary ways, this was learning about my dharma. We practiced no asana for the first year only mediation, a strict vow of silence and karma/Bhakti yoga. This dismantled me from the inside out – meditation or hours of it on the cold floor did the rest. When we did touch asana I was astounded at the simplicity the practice (again). I learned the original 84 asana that Shiva stated were “appropriate” for men to learn in this age. I believed stillness would uncover everything there was to know and so I practiced this asana according to the Hatha tenants, and meditation in silence and stillness until I could no longer trace the lines of fluidity in the stillness. It was around that time that I started to link the poses to breath, and practice Ashtanga Vinyasa, then I really began to see the microcosm in the macro and vice versa.

 

I thought to myself and questioned my teachers many times over ”why can we not have a practice that integrates both movement and stillness, alignment and precision with breath and flow”. Many raised eyebrows and what seemed like a million years later I developed my style that integrates the breath based flow of Ashtanga and the precision of Iyengar into a deep, sweaty and integrative mind/body experience, all the while dropping ancient texts and wisdom, using urban vernacular. That is the simple secret to my practice finding the threads or sutras of the macrocosm and bringing it to everyone. I believe strongly in yoga for everybody and all bodies, and so my practices develop and emanate from this place of stillness juxtaposed against movement and meditation. Being a single mother, and international DJ touring and teaching all year round I am in deep need of my yoga practice; it healed my broken body and mind two decades ago and now keeps my soul intact on a daily basis.