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The Zest – Liz Getman

We sat down with Liz Getman, an incredible yoga instructor and meditation leader. We learned so much from Liz about mindfulness, meditation, and consciousness. Watch the full interview and read the transcript below.

Teju: Hi, everyone. Welcome back to the Zest! I’m so excited for this episode. We have a powerhouse guest today.

I’m joined by Liz Getman, who is an incredible yoga instructor and meditation leader. She teaches really inspiring workshops, and she’s also a digital content creator. 

So, Liz is here to share her expertise, and talk about her journey and everything she’s done. She talks and writes a lot about self-love and acceptance, so I’m thrilled to dive in.

Welcome to the show, Liz. I’m so excited to have you.

Liz: Thank you, Teju. It’s an honor to be here. I appreciate it. 

Childhood, travel, teaching yoga

Teju: So, you’re up to so many incredible things: teaching yoga, leading meditation. I followed a lot of your work. I would love to know: How did you even get into the space? How did you get into yoga? How did you get into meditation?

Liz: I think it actually goes back to when I was a child. My dad is a spiritual teacher. And it’s funny because we often say we follow in our parents’ footsteps somehow, right? 

So, I became a spiritual teacher too. And my mom works in non-profits, and I also work in non-profits, so it kind of bridged both worlds. But I think I was inspired by that from a young age. And I had always been interested in yoga and meditation ever since college.

I had the opportunity during my master’s program to study abroad in Guatemala. And there I studied more about plant medicine and meditation and experimented with different levels of consciousness. 

Teju: Love it.

Liz: Yeah. And so when I came back from doing my research and learning there, I started leading meditations. And that was back in about 2014, 2015.

After that, I decided to pursue my yoga teacher training. So, I went back to Central America, did my yoga teacher training, and have been teaching ever since. It’s incredible.

Teju: What was that experience in Guatemala like? And if you feel comfortable, share some of the multiple levels of consciousness, some of the things that you try. Because for me, that stuff is endlessly fascinating.

Liz: Yeah. And it’s also hard to describe. But it’s fascinating for me, too. Yeah, so I started experimenting with plant medicines, and my research actually was in gender and development.

So, I was interviewing different women who unfortunately had been abused at the hands of their partners in Guatemala. Mayan women. And so it was interesting because I was studying meditation and actually using a plant medicine called cacao, which is the raw form of chocolate, which is traditional Mayan plant medicine.

And so cacao really works with the heart and opens up your heart and your mind, too. So different levels of consciousness, but it really helps us dive deeper into the heart space.

And so it was an interesting synchronistic experience because I was interviewing these women about really heavy topics, which was very humbling. 

But at the same time, I was sort of diving deeper into cacao and what it could do to open my heart and open their hearts for this shared experience.

It’ll be tough to describe any sort of experimentation with different levels of consciousness. But that was definitely something that stood out for me and something that I wanted to share in the world in a way that honored the culture.

So I’ve been trying to do that ever since. Cacao now serves as sort of a personal practice of mine. I don’t really share it with anyone anymore, but I do still teach yoga and meditation in the way that I can in this strange Zoom world.

Taking a break from teaching

Teju: I know. How has that been with COVID and adjusting to this Zoom world and everything being virtual? How has that shifted the way that you practice, the way that you teach, and how you engage with some of your students?

Liz: Yeah, actually, I took a break from teaching regularly. I had pre-COVID. I was living in Florida, where I had lived for eight years, and I was teaching 14 or 15 classes a week, which was a lot. And I was pretty emotionally and spiritually exhausted.

Teju: Yeah.

Liz: So I needed a break. Anyway, I ended up moving. I had some pretty big life changes, life transitions. I moved to North Carolina at the beginning of COVID.

I was forced to take a break from teaching anyway. I did teach some classes on Zoom, and I still have here and there and on Facebook Live, which is a very interesting experience.

You don’t really know what anyone else is doing or if anyone’s still there, but you’re just going with it. You’re like, “Are you with me, guys?”

It’s challenging. Zoom is definitely better, but it’s been good for me to take a break. I’m slowly easing back into teaching. I’ve been doing more meditations and leading meditations online, and that’s really where I feel most at home, guiding meditation and guiding more of a yin-based restorative yoga practice.

So, I’m slowly easing back in. But COVID has offered me the opportunity to take a break and pause and explore new avenues.

Teju: I think that’s something we’re all unpacking and discovering, and I call it a blessing in the curse myself too.

COVID has required me to slow down a ton and reflect on how I’m living and really live on purpose, live in a way of self-love and vulnerability, saying, like, hey, these things are no longer serving me.

It’s challenging, though, and I feel like you have to come from a place of vulnerability, which is something I love, that you talk about so much. You wrote such a beautiful article for Elephant Journal about your struggles in the past and really being vulnerable.

What has that journey been like for you? How have you been able to get to a place where you’re able to peel back the layers, be vulnerable, be authentic? And what were some of those hardest, darkest periods that led you to kind of shifting into the person that you are today?

Overcoming childhood trauma and anorexia

Liz: Yeah, well, thanks for reading my work and sharing that. I talk a lot about my past trauma, and I used to be somebody who would kind of suffocate everything, suppress everything. And actually, when I started studying meditation in yoga and plant medicine, I really came face to face with my inner junk, so to speak. 

And that’s really one of the gifts of the practice. Although it can really get ugly before it gets better. That’s often the case if you’re ready to dive in and explore.

And so I had trauma as a child, and as a result of that, I developed a nearly fatal eating disorder in college. I almost died of anorexia. I almost committed suicide a few times and have dealt with depression and anxiety off and on throughout my life.

I’m getting support for it now. And COVID is certainly a challenging time for those of us who struggle with these issues. But I’m at a place where I feel strong and healthy.

And I’ve also learned that sharing my story helps other people share theirs, and when I show up authentically, it inspires other people to show up authentically.

Sharing personal stories and helping others heal

Liz: That piece about vulnerability for Elephant Journal that I wrote was shared very widely. At first I was surprised, but then I realized, again, that the more I share, the more people are comfortable sharing their stories.

And so that inspires me to keep going, and that really revolved around my eating disorder and just not being connected to my body and not being connected to my emotions.

I had this sort of silly practice that I used to do during my recovery where I would stand in front of the mirror naked and repeat to myself, I love you, I love you, I love you. 

And at first, it didn’t feel like I really meant it. And there’s that idea of, like, fake it till you make it.

But more and more, I started to hear that affirmation. And I don’t know if I faked it until I made it or if something just clicked. Maybe it was all the practices I was doing that combined to create a space in which I could heal, in which I could share my story and really start to accept myself – and even love myself.

Teju: Thank you for sharing that. I’m just so humbled by your story. And I think that what I loved about your article is just that we live in a world where everyone puts their perfect selfie on Instagram and they’re like crushing it and in beast mode and all this other stuff. 

And behind everyone, there are insecurities or trauma or anxiety or depression. We all have things across a multitude of spectrums. And I think that when people can be vulnerable and authentic and share, it really helps to know that you’re not alone, whatever it is that you’re challenged by. So, I love your practice too.

Affirmations are powerful

Liz: I think that’s so powerful. I remember my dog would just kind of stare up at me with his head cocked as if to say, “What are you doing?”

But I do think affirmations are super important too and sometimes they click and sometimes we receive a message from a different messenger or some unexpected place.

So, maybe even from a product you’re selling or maybe from ourselves or from a social media post. I appreciate when we can be real and authentic and show that it’s not always rainbows and butterflies. But, it is important to share the highs.

Right? I mean, we can share the lows, but it’s good to share the highs just as long as we’re also being authentic about it – that it’s both and not either-or.

Teju: Exactly. I like that. Now, love is your approach to meditation. Walk us through some of the disciplines of practice.

Also, a lot of our viewers are beginners exploring meditation. I’d love some ideas on how they could get started. Sometimes it seems daunting to sit down and meditate. How do you get started?

Getting started in meditation

Liz: Yeah, well, I think the first thing to consider is that meditation is hard. So when you look at the limbs of yoga, meditation is pretty high up.

It’s a higher branch than say, Asana, the movement part of yoga that we see in most yoga studios. So, meditation is hard. It’s hard to just sit with your thoughts. And so first of all, try not to have expectations of what’s going to happen. You might hate it at first, and that’s totally okay.

Teju: I know I did. Yeah, it’s challenging.

Liz: It’s challenging. It definitely is a habit to cultivate. I mean, I think most people say, I’m going to start meditating and my life is going to get better.

Sometimes you start meditating and things start to feel worse because again, you’re looking at what’s inside like you’re really looking at your thought processes, your emotional patterns. And some of that might be kind of ugly. Right? 

But the trick is to stick with it as long as you feel safe and comfortable. If something comes up and you’ve experienced trauma in your life, then maybe meditation isn’t the best practice for you.

Maybe mindfulness (or mindful movement rather) is better than a seated meditation where you’re observing your thoughts and your emotional pattern.

So, that’s one thing to consider for people who’ve gone through deep trauma, that maybe a meditative movement might be better.

If you’re considering a seated meditative practice, the first thing you want to do is make sure you’re comfortable. And so if sitting on the floor hurts your hips or your back, use as many pillows as you need to sit as high as you need, or sit in a chair if that’s more accessible for you.

Let go of perfection and do what you can

If you can’t sit on the floor, lie down if that’s more accessible for you. There isn’t a perfect seated meditative practice, regardless of what we see on the internet and on social media.

Teju: I’m so glad you said that, actually. I went to a studio in San Diego, and I was sitting and tried to be my best. And I was like, “I’ve got to get this right!” And my back hurt. All I could think about was how much my back hurt.

Liz: Yeah, exactly. That’s all you’re going to be thinking about, right?

Teju: Exactly.

Liz: Yeah. I think there’s, like, a certain level of ego we have to dismantle first.

Yes, sit as high as you need. So, you want your hips to be in line with your knees or hips higher than your knees – again, if that’s available and accessible for your body. But you can lie down. I mean, that’s okay. 

And maybe try a guided practice first. Yeah, I mean, it’s good to stack your bones, so, like, shoulders over hips, but also stay relaxed. I think there’s a balance between relaxing your body and sitting up straight. I call myself a recovering type A, so I understand perfectionism. I’m in recovery for that as well. 

So, I give myself permission first to be a little messy and permission to be a little clunky. And it’s okay to not be “perfect” especially when you’re meditating. Perfection doesn’t even exist, right?

So, we’re trying to dismantle that idea first. But if you feel safe and comfortable, you can close your eyes and then start to just focus on your breath. If that feels challenging, you can do a sensory exercise that I often guide people through.

A sensory exercise to try

This is actually very good for people who’ve gone through trauma. So, whether your eyes are open or closed, you can go through your senses. This is good for people with anxiety, too. What do you hear? What’s the farthest sound away from you? So, maybe listen for something outside of your home. 

What’s the closest sound near you? Maybe the sound of your dog in the next room. What’s the taste on your tongue? Maybe that last sip of tea or coffee. What’s the smell in the air? Maybe coffee. And then what do you touch? Are you seated on the floor or do you feel your hand on your leg? Do you feel the air on your skin? 

A sensory exercise is a nice way to begin your meditation and mindfulness practice. Anxiety is really high in our world right now. And so this is a sensory practice you can do anytime. So you can do it with your eyes open or closed, even in the car. If you’re like me and you suffer a little bit from road rage, you can do it when you’re watching the news.

That’s a really good way to start. And then from there, maybe focus on how your breath moves through your body and just start there. Watch your thoughts come and go. Don’t believe everything you think because not every thought that passes is true. And just see what comes up and try to do it as non-judgmentally as possible.

How to deal with wandering thoughts

Teju: Now, one of the things when I first started meditating was dealing with those thoughts, like as you were saying, “Oh, I forgot to do __.”

Liz: I owe this person.

Teju: And it’s so easy to get in that spiral. How do you surrender those thoughts? I’ve heard some people say they kind of thank themselves for the thought and release it. Is that what you prefer and use to help you let those things go?

Liz: Especially when I teach or if I’m doing meditation, I’m talking to myself or thinking to myself, and I’ll often just come back as many times as needed. Your mind is going to wander. That’s what the mind is designed to do, right? 

So, let’s just get that clear first. This is what my mind is designed to do. So, okay, I’m starting to think about what I have to do in the next hour.

Let me come back to my breath or let me come back to notice how my seat feels on the floor. Something that I learned from another teacher is to actually think in my head that I’m thinking. So, this is weird, but I’m seated in meditation and I’m breathing.

And then my thoughts go to what I’m going to make for dinner. I’ll say to myself in my head, you’re thinking again. And that brings me back to this moment.

But sometimes people will do that in a harsher way, like, Oh, you’re thinking again. Damn it, let me come back to the present moment. But if you can do it in a softer voice in your mind, like, Oh, Liz, you’re thinking again, that’s okay.

Come back to your breath. Another trick that another teacher taught me is that you can just say to yourself, I am inhaling. I am exhaling. I am inhaling. I am exhaling. So, oh, what am I going to make for dinner? Liz, you’re thinking again. I am inhaling. I am exhaling. 

It seems simple, and it might even seem a little bit silly, but those are practices that really help me.

Teju: Yes. I am inhaling. I’m going to use that.

Liz: I still do it.

Meditation struggles

Teju: I meditate every day, but I still struggle after five years.

Liz: Me too. And I think if we’re not struggling, maybe we’re dead! But really, it’s going to be a struggle. We’re here living this human experience.

And so it’s going to be hard, and it’s going to be beautiful, but things are going to continue to come up, and we just learn from them and grow from them. I think accepting that it’s going to be kind of hard and a little uncomfortable and ugly at first – and maybe always – is really the first step.

Teju: Absolutely. And being willing to take that first step, I think.

Liz: Oh, absolutely. Yeah, you’re right. Saying, “I’m going to do this, and maybe it’s going to be ugly. It’s going to be messy, and I’m here for it.”

Teju: We’re going to figure this one out.

Liz: Yeah, exactly.

Getting started with yoga

Teju: And I think one of the things I get asked about, too, is yoga. Now, I do practice regularly, but what I get asked all the time is, “How do I get started practicing yoga? What are some simple moves? What should I look for?” 

Walk us through that. How could someone get started, even if it’s just a few minutes a day?

Liz: There are certainly poses you can do on your own, but I find that it’s easier to find a teacher online. So, I always recommend YouTube, like the channel Yoga with Adrienne.

I recommended it to my mom when she was starting yoga, and now she practices regularly. And there’s actually a 30-day series you can do, and she starts from the very beginning. It’s a great course and a great channel. 

Teju: Okay. We’ll have a link up to that in the show notes after.

Liz: Yeah, definitely put it in the show notes. She’s not a sponsor of mine. She doesn’t pay me. I just like to share the love. But now there are a lot of studios that are offering Zoom classes and things like that. Even, like I said, Facebook lives and free classes. I guess the important thing is that you’re moving in a way that feels good for your body. Right? There’s no perfection in yoga. 

I’m a big proponent of accessible yoga. And so accessible yoga means it’s yoga and movement for all bodies.

So, for everybody and every body, right? Which is something I like to say. I hope my classes instill that sense of empowerment in people. Yoga should offer a sense of agency for you. 

So, you’re moving and you’re choosing to move in a way that feels good for you. That’s first and foremost. If someone’s encouraging you to do something that doesn’t feel good, don’t do it.

We already have enough pain and suffering in the world. Why do we want to bring it into yoga, right?

Teju: Exactly.

Liz: Yeah. So, start with gentle movement and whatever feels good for you. So, maybe you learn a sun salutation online. That’s great! But maybe your sun salutation looks different than mine. Maybe mine is on the knees. Or you can even do sun salutations on your back if that’s what’s accessible for you.

And so you really want to find what works best for your body and start gently. I think we look at, like, hot yoga and sweaty yoga, and… I love high yoga. I do. But starting with that may or may not be the best course of action for somebody, especially if you’re starting out. And you’ve never tried yoga before, right?

Teju: My first class ever was a bucheroan class I took with my sister.

Liz: Mine too, actually. Mine too.

Yoga comes in different forms

I often introduce practices to people, and I used to bring them to my home studio when I taught in Florida, and they’d be like, I don’t want to do a vinyasa-style class. I don’t want to do a flow-style class.

You can try yin or restorative, but if you introduce somebody first to hot yoga or vinyasa, they might be like, “I’m done. I never want to come back.” 

I think it’s important to just know that there are options and that, actually, meditation is a form of yoga. So if meditating is your form of yoga, that’s beautiful. You don’t have to even move your body right now.

Teju: What are some other meditation forms that people can explore as they’re maybe starting to incorporate meditation into their daily lives?

Meta and So Hum meditations

Liz: My favorite form of meditation, besides simple mindfulness meditation, watching my thoughts and watching the breath – which can also be a form of Zen meditation – is what’s called meta. I find this to be really helpful when I’m feeling angry or frustrated or disconnected from the world, as many of us are right now. 

And so a meta meditation is repeating mantras, repeating affirmations to yourself as you’re seated or lying down, or again, even if you’re in the car, hopefully with eyes open, if you’re driving. And so you first send loving kindness to yourself. And so you’re repeating these affirmations, and it goes like this: May I be happy, may I be peaceful, may I be free. 

You can repeat that as many times as you need. And then you start to think about people who are close to you, people you love. So your friends, your family, and you repeat to yourself, May they be happy, may they be peaceful, may they be free. You start to expand your circle, maybe to your coworkers, your neighbors, maybe to people you struggle to love.

Liz: So if I’m struggling to have compassion or to connect with someone, I repeat to myself, may they be happy, may they be peaceful, may they be free. From there you can expand to the whole world and repeat to yourself, may all beings be happy, may all beings be peaceful, may all beings be free. 

So mantra meditation is actually one of the easiest types of meditation. You can use that one. My other favorite meditation is to simply repeat I am so. There are no qualifiers or descriptions, I’m simply seated as I am. So I inhale on “I,” exhale on “am,” and I repeat it as many times as I need as I’m breathing.

Teju: Inhale on “I”, “so” I exhale.

Liz: You can also use the Sanskrit form of that, which is So Hum. So Hum means I am. And again, you’re not describing yourself as anything. I’m not saying, “I’m beautiful,” “I’m strong,” which are also great affirmations, but I’m just simply resting in this human body, in this spirit body. I am So Hum.

Teju: I am So Hum. I love that. That’s beautiful. Especially given everything that we’re doing, just having even just the scripts, having the mantra self and mind yourself, I think that’s so beautiful. I love it.

Liz: I was going to say, when your mind wanders, you can come back to your breath, you can come back to your senses, or you can come back to whatever mantra or affirmation you’ve chosen for yourself. So use as many tools as you can, keeping it as simple as you can, but don’t expect to sit down and levitate right away, right? Keep using the tools and keep experimenting with what tools work best for you.

Teju: And I think it’s experimentation. I think a lot of times, especially in the Wellness space, there’s a prescriptive. These are the things that are hot right now, and everyone tries to do them, and it’s like, wait, this is not working for me. I don’t understand.

And it’s saying we’re all different. And different things resonate with you just based on your own experiences, where you are in your journey, and having enough tools to be able to pull from the toolbox and figure out what’s resonating with you at the time.

Liz: And just knowing that what resonates with you one day might not resonate the next day and what resonates for you might not resonate for me. I think we talk a lot about yoga oneness and this idea of unity, and that is the goal, right? Liberation for all beings, for all people.

But there’s different paths to get there. And so just acknowledging that one path might not be the path for you is okay. Give yourself permission to try something else. 

Teju: Love it. Now with all of the tools, I feel like we live in such abundance in terms of developments in the Wellness space, and there are so many new things.

As I was talking about, what is your approach to healthy living? Like, what are the things, maybe five things that you can’t live without, maybe tools, practices, products, or whatever it may be that you really love and help on your journey.

Tools and practices for a healthier lifestyle

Liz: I don’t know if I can think of five, but meditation for sure. And when I don’t meditate and when I don’t move my body, whether that’s yoga in class, whether that’s like a fitness class or going running or even on a walk or a hike, I notice it right away. 

I don’t just feel it in my body, but I noticed it first and foremost in my mind. I’m crankier, I have a shorter fuse. I’m not as compassionate. I have trouble connecting to people. 

So, the practices we’ve been talking about, are first and foremost music for me, and dance is high up there for me as well. I also love to cook, and this is something I’ve recently discovered.

I’ve been vegan-ish for about 13 to 14 years, and I’ve also recently become gluten-free since finding out I have a gluten intolerance this past summer. So, I’ve had to get creative in the way that I cook.

Liz: And so cooking and experimenting with new recipes is really important to me. And that’s also been helpful for me to recover from my eating disorder as well, to really develop a deeper relationship to food. 

As far as products, like most yoga teachers these days, I love essential oils, so lavender oil. At night, it’s helpful for me to sleep. My dog Waldo, who is actually here behind me, is my emotional support animal for sure. He came into my life at a tough time and has been with me ever since. 

Teju: He’s so relaxed. Waldo, I want to be you.

Liz: Waldo and I are kindred spirits. We both suffer from anxiety, but also, I think, can hit our meditative position sometimes quickly if we have, again, all the tools available. So, yeah, Waldo is definitely my kindred spirit and my support. 

I don’t know if I really have a lot of products necessarily, but those are the tools. But I think first and foremost for me, as far as healthy living is concerned, if I have good health, meaning I’m not sick, I don’t have broken bones, that’s my ideal. I broke a bone last year, and that was a nightmare as a yoga teacher. And my mental health is in good shape. My emotional health is in good shape, and so is that of my family members and my loved ones. I think for me, that’s the most important thing to a healthy, happy life. And trying to simplify. I’m always trying to simplify.

Teju: I think that helps too. I’m a big fan of radical editing.


That’s good too.

And one of the things I do as a content creator is I edit websites and press releases and all that. But if you hire me, just know I’m a radical editor. 

Teju: You do a lot of philanthropic work, too. So walk us through what you’re doing. You’re up to so many cool things. What are some of the other things that you’re working on?

Bringing yoga to the homeless with Yoga Loca

Liz: Again, I think my life’s goal is to have a simpler life. But I’ve also come to terms with the fact that I don’t think I’ll ever have a simple life because I like to do a lot of things, and that’s just who I am.

I think my biggest goal as a yoga teacher, but also as a human being, is to create equity and wellness. And that’s really important to me, that we amplify marginalized voices and uplift communities that have been oppressed. And this is key in wellness and in yoga. 

I mean, we see the whitewashing of wellness and of yoga especially, acknowledging that I am a thin, able-bodied white woman.

I want to use that privilege to create more equity in wellness so that other people have the opportunity to use these tools for their liberation, for their freedom, whatever that means, in their body: Spiritually, emotionally, and psychologically.

And so Yoga Loca was born, actually through one of my best friends and collaborators. She had an idea to bring yoga to people who are currently homeless. And so she’s often the vision person, and I’m the doer. 

We burst this program together in Gainesville, Florida, and it actually spread to different states, to different countries. And basically we started teaching yoga and mindful movement and some meditation as was appropriate for people’s trauma to homeless populations.

From there, we took yoga into jails. And I actually taught in a jail in Florida for a while, and it was my favorite place to teach, hands down.

Yeah, we taught women who were survivors of domestic violence and their children, and people with mental illnesses. So a lot of different populations. And all free, right? In community-based classes as well, in spaces that maybe aren’t as intimidating as a yoga studio.

So you don’t have to wear your tight leggings to come to Yoga Loca classes. You can show up as you are. 

Any class I’m teaching, come as you are, pay what you can, and maybe your payment is an energetic exchange, right? Maybe it’s your presence. And so that’s really the goal behind Yoga Logo. Of course, things have transformed with COVID. And when I moved, I sort of stepped away a little bit.

Launching a podcast to uplift marginalized voices

I know we’re going to talk about this briefly, but I’m actually launching a new podcast. So I was the host of another podcast, and I’m launching a new podcast called Stretched with an online wellness company called Core Decor. And really the goal is to create equity and wellness to uplift marginalized voices, to continue this work that was born out of Yoga Loca to help educate and empower people.

Teju: I love that. What was the experience like teaching at a jail? Any conversations that you had that you could share? That must have been so cool.

Teaching yoga in jails

Liz: I think the most intimidating part was not even the people who were in the jail. I don’t like to use the word inmates, but it wasn’t even the inmates. It was like the police and the process of getting in the jail that was the most intimidating part. 

What I loved about teaching in a jail or in a homeless shelter is that it’s just raw. It’s real. What you see is what you get. I mean, you’re not wearing, again, your fancy Lulum and yoga clothes, right? 

You’re either in a prison uniform or, if you’re homeless, you’re wearing maybe jeans and a sweatshirt or whatever you have on your body. We just put all that aside, all of that ego around what we look like.

Most of it gets pushed to the side when you’re in those areas, or a lot of it. And so I think people have to overcome that first. Like you and I were speaking earlier, it was really hard for us to sit up perfectly in meditation to start. That doesn’t necessarily happen when you’re teaching in a jail.

Liz: People are just trying to survive. People are just trying to get through the day. And so it’s a very authentic experience. It can be difficult as far as connecting to the women there. It was for me at first.

But again, we’re offering a lot of room for people to move based on their comfort level instead of instructing them, like, “Place your foot here, do this, do that” which they’re hearing all day in a jail or a prison already. 

So we’re not there to enforce this movement practice. We’re there to offer space for them to heal in whatever capacity they can. Something that was challenging but also a great growth opportunity was putting aside my judgments about what these people did in their past to end up there.

And so I think that’s one of the biggest lessons for me as a yoga practitioner and teacher, is to try to judge who’s coming into your space. Everyone’s welcome, and we’re all after the same goal. We may have very different ways of getting there, but hopefully, this practice can help move us forward so that we can become better human beings and spiritual beings.

Teju: Right. I love that talk about surrendering, just being in the moment with people and sharing that. I love what you said about sharing space.

Liz: Yeah. That’s really what it is.

Teju: Yeah, I love that. Now, you’re such an incredible teacher. I know that we were talking earlier about some things that you wanted to show our audience. So, I’d be honored to be your guinea pig if you can lead us through a little bit of a demonstration.

Breathwork exercises

Liz: I was thinking we could do some equal parts breath, which is a nice way to start a meditated practice and a mindfulness practice.

So, whoever’s out there, if you want to find a comfortable seated position or lying down position, feel free. If it feels safe and comfortable for you, you can close your eyes, but you can also keep a soft gaze and focused on one point with your eyelids at half-mast if that’s more comfortable today. 

Let’s start with a couple of cleansing breaths. I invite you to inhale through your nose. Part your lips, and exhale through your mouth. Do that two more times. Inhale through your nose, exhale through your mouth. This time I invite you to inhale through your nose. Pause at the top if that’s comfortable. Sip in a little more air and then part your lips. Exhale out of your mouth.

Teju: Let it go.

Liz: Just stay in that more relaxed position with your jaw. Allow your top and bottom teeth to separate. Let your tongue fall away from the roof of your mouth. Feel your eyebrows fall apart. Let your shoulders soften away from your ears.

Just take a moment to notice your seat and how you’re connected to the earth, to your chair, and to the floor. Feel your spine grow tall. Maybe lift the crown of your head a little higher. Let your hands rest comfortably. I welcome you as you are and invite you to welcome yourself as you are. There’s no right way to be or breathe as you are. No such thing as perfection here. 

Take another cleansing breath. Inhale through your nose, exhale through your mouth. Inhale for a count of one, two, three, and pause. Exhale. Three, two, one, pause. One more time. Inhale. One, two, three, pause. Exhale. Three, two, one, pause.

 Notice how you’re feeling now. And if and when you’re ready, you can blink your eyes open and come back.

Teju: That was amazing.

Liz: I’m glad you’re enjoying it.

Teju: I feel so energized. That was awesome. Wow. You realize how much stress and tension you hold in your shoulders. It’s just amazing. So, that’s something that people can do during the day. At any point, anytime, just pause. And you have such a soothing and incredible energy too. That is just you.

Liz: Oh yeah, my pleasure. Thank you.

Teju: Well, I know you’re busy. Before you go, what are the best places to connect with you?

Connect with or follow Liz Getman

Liz: I try to keep things simple. You can find me under my name. So,, or @lizgetman on Instagram and Facebook. I mostly use Instagram and my website for different things, but any writing I have, any interviews I have, I always put on my website.

So, you can find all those there. I do have guided meditations on the app Insight Timer

It’s a free app, so you can listen to guided meditations there. But you can also connect to them from my website. 

Teju: Perfect. Thanks for teaching and for your energy and for just being such an inspirational individual. I love everything you’re doing, and you’re such a light in the world, so thank you. It was an honor to chat with you.

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