Lee Skunes (yoga teacher/dancer) on the tremendous life we have

There's no better time to release this episode than Valentines Day. What is a relationship? What is love? Do we need to have everything all figured out? Join my special guest Lee Skunes today. Standing at 6'9'', he's legitimately 2 inches taller than Tony Robbins. :)

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To prepare for my podcast with Lee, I wrote down a series of nouns, verbs, adjectives to reflect upon the impact he's had on my life in the past year as a yoga teacher:

  • Compassion, joy, beauty, balance, authenticity, integration (yoga, dancing, singing), connection, exploration.
  • Cheerful, hopeful, possible, vocal, visceral, enthusiastic, peaceful, transparent, optimistic
  • Energize, activate/motivate, enable, transform

"Don't let perfectionism be in the way of where you get the value from. Perhaps your best isn't always your best, your worst isn't always your worst. The drive to better, faster, more, bigger seem to perpetuate through generations. But perhaps we should take a step back and realize how silly this notion is." - Lee Skunes

In this 2-part interview with Lee, he reminded me that true wisdom often comes from the messy stuff in life. As an incredibly talented and aspiring yoga teacher, Lee believes in walking the walk by doing the work. He values his students as much as they value him.

"My students project positive energy onto me. It's cyclical. Students seldom realize the significant impact they have on my life." Lee Skunes.

For those of you who are interested in becoming a yoga teacher and perhaps have contemplated the idea for a while, Lee offers the most transparent answers to evaluating whether this could be path for you.

There is a very big entrepreneur part of being a yoga teacher including but not limited to self promotion, marketing, personal taxes, etc. You have to be willing to take on these responsibilities or find someone who can free you from these tasks.

"Work is like play for me." says Lee, "You have be grounded among transitions, as well as the depth and capacity needed in order to be a full time teacher."

Lee had a unique pathway to yoga before becoming a full time teacher. He worked at Lululemon and was able to connect with people who were already in this field.

"You have to trust that there are plenty of people who can benefit form yoga. Yoga is a career that's on-going and a path for you to continue to grow and develop. Some jobs don't offer this value. It's a gift and a privilege to be a teacher." - Lee Skunes.

Make sure to give yourself the space and freedom to explore what you love. Don't let finance or the outside world get in the way of your passion. It is simple, but not easy. For Lee, his passion goes much beyond yoga. He is dancer, singer, writer, personal trainer, leadership and development practitioner. He loves writing little vignette stories that are "so in the moment". Why? As much as we want to recreate the moment, we can't.

"I love watching people lit up over what they do. We should all appreciate the tremendous life that we have." - Lee Skunes.

Intrigued by why so many people latch onto Lee's teaching and belief, I often wondered how he got here, effortlessly, as it appears on the outside. Learn more about Lee as a 19, 20-year old in Part 1.

In part 2, Lee talks about his yoga workshops, focusing on the 3rd and 5th Chakra. (If you are new to this concept, chakra represents each of the centers of spiritual power in the human body, usually considered to be seven in number). Lee loves creating a forum that fosters healthy dialogues, evoking reactions to help people reflect upon the assumptions and choices they make. It is fascinating when people start to confront and connect, the conversations that arise out of this exercise can be very powerful.

Lee also addresses the importance of not seeking for constant approvals and agreements. He says, "Knots are not bad things. Frictions and disagreements are ok. It's not either, or, but a house with different rooms." Nature made the gun and nurture pulled the trigger. I asked Lee if he believes that openness and curiosity are something people are born with.

There are, of course, things you are not born with that already chosen for you. Lee shares his stories of revealing his sexuality to his sister and parents, a sweet little tale that involved a Post-It note.

"We think we know ourselves and other people. The privilege is not knowing and being in / exploring the unknown." - Lee Skunes

Another fantastic yoga teacher, Rachel Bairstow at Coolidge Corner Yoga, asked her students in one Forrest Yoga class as some (myself included) began to struggle with challenging poses after a long day at work: "What if this is all the strength you have today? Can you be ok with that?" I found this approach to be exceptionally powerful but not sure why these questions had such profound impact on me.

"Acceptance and forgiveness are two superpowers. Both acceptance and appreciation allow you to come from a baseline of where you are at, and forgiveness fosters new connections." - Lee Skunes

To learn more about Lee Skunes, please follow and connect with him via FacebookTwitter, or perhaps treat yourself to his wonderful vinyasa and core flow classes at Coolidge Corner Yoga in Brookline, MA.

Do you enjoy this podcast? If so, please leave your comment below and share the podcast with your family and friends. Your support will keep me on track and bring many other unsung heroes to this podcast.

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Show Notes: 

  • What is our expectation and understanding of relationships?
  • The world of perfectionism - do we have to be "better" every time, and in everything we do?
  • What has Lee learned through the tragic deaths of his friends and how they shaped him to be who he is today?
  • What is it really like to be a yoga teacher? (What you should know before becoming one)
  • Why is self-development a compliment to every walk of life?
  • Did Lee always had his way - supported by family and friends? Or what was the epiphany for change?
  • I often wondered how Lee got here, effortlessly, as it appears on the outside. Learn more about Lee as a 19, 20-year old.
  • How does Lee conduct his popular yoga workshops focusing on the 3rd and the 5th chakras?
  • Are qualities such as openness and curiosity something people are born with?
  • The privilege of not knowing
  • Acceptance and forgiveness are two superpowers

Organizations mentioned: