Meet Jivani Lisa, a dedicated yoga purist, spiritual guide, and mental health counselor whose journey into wellness seamlessly blends traditional Indian yoga with profound spiritual wisdom. In her exclusive MysticMag interview, Jivani Lisa shares insights into her holistic approach to yoga, spiritual coaching, and her mission to help individuals find healing and personal growth across all levels of their being.
Who is Jivani Lisa? What can you tell me about your professional journey?
Thanks for asking about me and my journey. My childhood was filled with the love of Spirit found in nature, especially trees, water, and campfires. After years of taking dance lessons and choreographing my own dances as a child, I started off teaching group fitness classes when my older sister invited me to help with her classes while she was away. This evolved into a career in the fitness industry as a personal trainer, group fitness instructor for all ages of adults, and coach for those new to the fitness/wellness experience. Then, in 2000, I attended my first weekend yoga teacher training and fell in love with yoga.
Over time, I found myself teaching more yoga and less other formats and realized I truly loved the mental and spiritual aspects of yoga. I completed a two-year program in spiritual direction in the Christian tradition after spending over seven months living in a hermitage dedicated to prayer. As I continued teaching yoga, particularly in a university setting, I noticed that students often talked to me about their deepest personal issues and concerns about the future. This led me to study and earn a master’s degree in mental health counseling. After advanced training through Integral Yoga, I requested a spiritual name from one of their senior teachers. She asked me to write a few sentences for her about what I envision as my mission in the world. I wrote that, as a fitness/yoga teacher, mental health counselor, and spiritual guide, I see my mission as helping people find healing and personal growth on all levels: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. After praying over what I had written, the senior teacher gave me the name Jivani which means “vivifying” or “enlivening.” This name is perfect for me and highlights my dharma in this world.
What do your Yoga classes look like?
My yoga classes are meant to help people look deeply within themselves. I call myself “a yoga purist,” meaning I focus on the traditional Indian way of sharing yoga rather than on some of the newer, commercialized ways of teaching. For example, the Sanskrit word “Yoga” can be a noun meaning “union” or a verb meaning “to yoke” or “to bring things together.” I invite students to ponder this as they practice. According to The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Yoga is about mastering the mind, so I offer classes that are introspective and meditative for students. My classes are beginner-friendly because I believe yoga is for everyone, not only people who can easily contort their bodies into complicated poses. My classes begin with a period of centering into the body and the breath. That is followed by a gradual warm-up for the whole body which then progresses into more complex poses and practices offered with a variety of options so each student can find what works best for them. Classes finish with deeper stretching and guided relaxation. Overall, the practice brings balance to body/mind/spirit.
What ideas and principles are your spiritual coaching based on?
Although I learned the techniques of spiritual guidance in the Christian tradition, my goal is to be present to the person in front of me no matter what the person brings to the session. My work with clients is based on respect, compassion, and a genuine interest in what is happening in the person’s spiritual life. I help clients connect to something higher than themselves regardless of what they might call that something: God, Father, Mother, Love, Higher Power, Consciousness, etc. I assist clients with developing deeper relationships with themselves, God, other people, and nature in whatever ways are most appropriate for each person. The traditional paths of yoga are very helpful here, too: Raja (mastery of the mind), Bhakti (devotion), Karma (selfless service), and Jnana (knowledge of the True Self). As a trained counselor, I come from a person-centered stance with clients.
Can you share some success stories?
Students or clients of mine have been “successful” in many ways. For example, some feel they are able to manage their stress levels much more easily. Others have used yoga and/or spiritual guidance to work through grief, anxiety, and depression. One of my students wanted to start a family but was having trouble conceiving due to her work schedule and stress levels. She credits yoga with helping her conceive her beautiful son! She now has two children. Another client underwent extensive surgery for cancer and used the practices of yoga to help her heal physically and mentally. My university students often remark that they had no idea how much yoga had to offer; they thought they were just signing up for a simple class on stretching! They see how powerful the practices of pranayama (breath/energy work) and meditation can be in everyday life.
What sets you apart from your colleagues?
I think the main thing that sets me apart from my colleagues is my deliberate choice to work holistically with students (even in group settings) and clients (even in spiritual guidance). I truly believe that we cannot simply focus on the body or focus on the spirit. Every layer of our being is interconnected within us. For example, Yoga uses the concept of the five koshas (layers/sheaths) of our bodies.
Everything we do in daily life is either enhancing the koshas or diminishing them in some way. Even when a student believes they are taking a yoga class purely to help the body become more flexible, they are also training the mind to be more focused and centered and connecting into the deeper levels of their spirit. Ultimately, yoga means union of our lower self (the person we THINK we are) with our Higher Self (the Divine).
Is there anything else about your work that you’d like to share that we haven’t covered?
Students attend my classes at recreation centers and gyms. Clients meet me privately over Zoom or in my home. Everyone deserves to enjoy the benefits of yoga and spiritual guidance.
To learn more about Jivani and her work, you can visit holistichealthjivani.com