Amanda James on Remembering What We Were Born Knowing

AmandaPlusOneAmanda and I were roommates back when she was vegan and not yet teaching yoga. Her dog, Jada, was a clever meat-lover who could open the fridge when we weren’t home, despite us blockading the door with furniture or duct taping it closed. One night when Amanda got home late from her job at the emergency vet clinic, she woke me up with shrieking. We turned on all the lights and there, under her pillow, was a raw chicken leg. Good times.

Tell us about your background in hip-hop dance and rap.

I grew up in the South, surrounded by a lot of hip-hop culture. I’ve been a dancer my whole life but I couldn’t really stick with jazz, tap and ballet. I wasn’t really feeling it. So I migrated to the hip-hop scene. And I was always interested in rap music. When I graduated college, I moved to Atlanta. I had always written poems and spoken word. I met one of my best friends and he had a little home studio, and we started playing around and making music in his closet. So I recorded my first rap song. I didn’t have as much drive or confidence then as I do now. I wish I did because I probably would’ve tried to push and go further and perform more. So Atlanta is where I shifted to hip-hop dance. I danced for an agent, Bloc South, and I did my rap on the side. My rap isn’t like radio rap. It’s more soulful.VeganBaby

How did your lyrics align with the yoga you do now?

It’s funny, I’ll read my old lyrics and think, “Oh, that’s what I meant.” I had no idea what I was writing about. I would write about colors and energy but I wasn’t conscious of what I was writing. It was just streaming through me. Now I realize that I already knew the metaphysics I’m studying now. I just didn’t know that I knew. We all know. We’re born knowing. We just forget.

 

How did you deal with drugs in the go-go dance world?

I was just telling my mom how I used to smoke pot before high school! I remember this one scene in Atlanta where I was looking around at a house, wondering how I got there. And somehow, miraculously, I always got home safe. When I would try drugs, I was always fully conscious of everything that was going on. So it was like they weren’t really working. I was searching for something but I couldn’t really get there. It wasn’t until I found yoga that I realized why I made it out alive all those times.

What is your daily yoga practice now?EncinitasBaby

I meditate with the light. We downray light through our higher selves into our centers. It takes anywhere from five minutes to an hour. Usually I go about 25 minutes every morning, at like 5:30am, before anyone wakes up. Otherwise I turn into a B-word in the afternoons. (laughs.)

What was it about giving birth that made you want to be a doula and teach Prenatal and Mommy & Me yoga?

I was planning a home birth and I didn’t take any birthing classes. I had a belief that women have been giving birth since the beginning of time so I didn’t need someone to tell me how to do it. My body would already know how to do it. I had been laboring for a full 24 hours, puking my guts out, the most intense cramp you can ever imagine. I was exhausted. I didn’t know the phases of labor and that at the beginning you should just be taking it easy. So I ended up in the hospital 2 days after YogaBabiesmy labor started and I got a C-section. That made me want to be there to support other women. So they would know from the start what to expect. My daughter, KayaMoon, was born at 4:44 which is the number that represents the presence of angels. So when I heard the doctor say “16:44” I thought, “It’s not for nothing! Give me my baby!”

What is your favorite part of yoga philosophy?

I like the physiology of it- bringing people from the sympathetic nervous system into the parasympathetic. Our culture and our world is just go-go-go, rushing around, and it feels really intense. Yoga is the most perfect way to shut all that down and to slow down the hamster wheel of thought.

How long have you been married?

We’ve been together about six years so probably married one or two years.

What advice do you have for people trying to make their relationship work?

Oh my gosh, I have a hard time. I have to force myself to have sex. Um, delete. (laughs.) I’m just exhausted. I didn’t sleep one night for two straight years. I’ve finally been sleeping for about a year and now [my dog] Jada gets up twice in the night. So I’m just exhausted. But when you make the one-on-one time with your partner, you remember how fun it is and why you’re together and all those little annoyances sorta slide to the back.

In those moments when you get a little aroused but you don’t follow up and tell your partner, you gotta follow up and tell your partner. Does that makes sense? So, I’m in the bed putting my daughter down and I think, “Oh, I could go do it right now.” Usually I’d just go pass out and go to sleep. But I should make myself get up and go do my husband.BabyOm

Relationships are hard. And you do always have that thought, “I wonder if the grass is greener.” But looking through spiritual and metaphysical eyes in regards to karma and what our souls have come here to do, generally we choose a partner that can bring out all these life lessons and spiritual lessons in us, that we need to overcome in order for our souls to evolve to the next level.

It’s so strange how much I try to pull [my husband] Brock into this spiritual yoga world and he just sorta stays on the outskirts. But he’s always dropping nuggets of wisdom on me. LIke his soul already knows. Like what I said in the beginning- we already know.

JadaWhat challenges you?

Remembering all the spiritual work that I’ve put in. Remembering to apply it to daily life. You can talk the talk, but walking the walk is the hardest part. And remembering that is a challenge. When I’m in alignment, I feel like I’m spiritually unshakable. I’m a nice person and loving. But it’s really easy to go back to the narrow pathways that had been set for years and years.

 

You can take Amanda’s classes at Soul of Yoga in Encinitas. If you’re not pregnant or a Mom, just look for her Hatha class on the schedule. Please express yourself in the Comments section below. We want your words to be well-preserved instead of lost in the shuffle of Facebook!

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One comment

  1. What a beautiful, honest and authentic interview. Thank you, Amanda and Rachel!

    Like

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