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Daily Inspiration: Meet Brittany Griffiths

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brittany Griffiths.

Hi Brittany, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
My yoga journey began back in college, I was a seventeen year old freshman at CSU Monterey Bay and was putting together my semesters schedule with an academic advisor. I needed to add an elective to my schedule and long story short, after browsing through the catalog which offered an incredibly wide range of activities and courses, I chose yoga. As an athlete, adding a course to my schedule that at the time I only viewed as a designated stretch time in the day, yoga seemed to be the best fit for me. Little did I know at the time, after taking my first class, my life would begin to change. That weekly yoga class at school supported me in developing a strong personal practice, which soon led me to seek classes outside of the school yoga class setting. What I began to discover is that not only did this practice offer me strength, freedom, peace and relaxation within my physical body, but the impact it had on my mind and overall well-being was something I had nothing ever experienced before in my life. From freshman year on, I stayed enrolled in yoga at CSUMB, as I entered my second year of school, I even had the opportunity to become my yoga teachers aid for some classes, helping demonstrate and guide practice for first year students who had chosen yoga as an elective just like me, a few years prior. How full circle is that!

Each year I continued to strengthen and deepen my personal practice, on and off the mat, becoming more and more clear in practice and in life what direction I wanted to go, what I wanted to manifest. This is when my vision of SOULSTOKED really started to come into formation and spread roots. During my third year at school, I decided to take it a step further and take my practice far beyond California. I will never forget, it was towards the beginning of my junior year and I had randomly walked by a classroom that was hosting a study abroad presentation. I heard the presenter list off a large list of countries that the school has relationships with host universities that students could study abroad in. I immediately was intrigued! Simply being in Monterey Bay, CA as a university student, living on my own, was essentially the biggest trip I had ever embarked on as an only child from San Diego, CA. So the idea of traveling abroad, living in a whole other country and still being able to complete my degree, yet alone possibly have financial aid cover the expenses, sounded like a complete dream! After the presentation ended I decided to stick around, keep in mind I didn’t even know at the time that this was going on, I had “randomly” come across it, but now as I reflect back on the day, I truly feel I was meant to be there that day. Once the room began to clear out, I remember walking up to meet the exchange coordinator, and express my interest in studying abroad! I asked her if there were programs available to students in SE Asia, because many of the countries she listed in her presentation seemed to be only in Europe and South America. She mentioned there were designated programs in Korea as well as Thailand, but the options for SE Asia were quite limited.

Due to time constraints, she asked me to drop by later in the week to meet her in her office to discuss my study abroad vision, which ended up being one of the best days of my life. During our meeting, she asked me what countries I would be interested in going to and why. Right away, I said INDIA! We chatted a lot about my yoga practice and deep interest in traveling to the homeland of the sacred and ancient practice that has continued to transform my life ever since I enrolled in the schools yoga class back when I was a freshman. Eager to get the ball rolling and sign the papers and go for it, I was immediately told that CSUMB had no relationships with host universities in India. BUT, she did mention that did not necessarily mean it wasn’t there. Long story short, after a few weeks I received an email from my study abroad coordinator asking to meet again. Here I was, thinking she was going to tell me that India was off the table and that I should explore interest in other countries where programs were already in place, but call in the huge plot twist! India is a go! Holly White, my study abroad coordiantor shared the most exciting news! After hearing my enthusiastic interest in traveling to India, she some how was able to establish a brand new connection with a host university Bangalore, India and together she and I would be spearheading an entirely new study abroad program at CSU Monterey Bay. There were no pamphlets, student feedback, testimonials, nothing. I would be the very first student at my school to study abroad in India, and I was SOULSTOKED!

Fast forward to the following semester and there I was, walking to school amidst the sounds of rickshaw drivers, dodging cows, engulfed in the smell of incense from the many colorful temples that lined the streets on my way to class in Bangalore, India. I was enrolled in a wide range of classes such as Women’s Studies, Introduction to Sanskrit, Eastern Religions and Philosophy, and of course, Yoga. After the semester ended, I decided to stay and explore a little longer. I spent the remainder of the year backpacking throughout the country, practicing, learning, growing, exploring… deepening my relationship not only with yoga, but with myself. Fast forward a year and I am back in the states, finishing up my Bachelor of Arts degree in Global Studies, fitting I know, and soon after my graduation, I am traveling with a one way ticket back to India, this time to embark on my first residential 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training course with Rishikesh Yog Peeth along the Ganges River in Rishikesh, India studying with teachers Roshan Singh and Deepti Kulshrestha . Upon the completion of the residential training, I once again decided to stay longer and explore. This time not only did I travel throughout India, but I also ventured to Sri Lanka and Indonesia. All along the way practicing yoga, and now this time as a certified instructor, also teaching in a wide range of environments along the way as well. Ranging from roof top hostel type settings in bustling cities, quiet beach practices right next to the Arabian Sea and even to foreign and Indian travelers in the Tharr Desert during Camel Expeditions.

Following a year of travel during my second pilgrimage to India, I once again returned to California and continued flowing and growing on and off the mat. I began teaching yoga at my local rock climbing gym, big shout out to Sanctuary Rock Gym in Seaside, CA, for seeing me and inviting me to combine my passions of rock climbing and yoga all in one! The class became a huge hit in the climbing community, and it was apparent that yoga and rock climbing are very much intimately connected with the pathways that intertwine. Throughout the year my yoga for rock climbers class at the gym continued to grow and expand, which soon lead me to offer outdoor classes in locations around town ranging from local parks to peaks, taking students and friends on hikes and guiding yoga all along the way. Very fitting because fast forward to present day, where I actively lead/co-lead what I call soul adventure retreats, infusing my love for yoga and rock climbing, as well as hiking, camping and really just all things in communion with nature, all throughout California in some of my most favorite places such as Mt. Laguna, Joshua Tree, Eastern Sierras and soon to be announced, a new exciting international heart offering in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico for 2022!

By this time a couple years had passed since my second journey to India, and it was during this time when I began to shift into teaching as my full time thing. I was teaching a variety of classes almost every day of the week, and sometimes 3-4 in one day. While I loved my shift into full time teaching, I was beginning to feel a bit stagnant in some areas of my practice. Because I was teaching so much, I noticed that my personal practice was starting to be placed on the back burner and I was needing time to slow down, recharge and dive deep again. Before the next big leap across international borders, I was first being called to slow down, literally, in the style of yoga I was not only teaching but typically focusing on in practice. One of the best decisions of my entire life thus far was signing up for a Yin Yoga teacher training, and I am so grateful for my teachers here in San Diego, Kristi Kuttner and Kellie Martin from Trilogy Yoga Sanctuary, for creating an incredibly transformative offering and holding space in such a loving and gentle way. This was definitely a big turning point in my yoga practice, on but most importantly off the mat. This training reminded me to not be afraid of slow moments, rather embrace stillness and observe without judgement, without expectation, the constructs of the mind and learn new ways to navigate discomfort and lean in, rather then hide. This Yin training in San Diego had a profound impact on me not only as a teacher, but a student, a partner, a co-worker, a friend. It was an invitation to RELAX, and trust the process as it unfolds. Shortly after the training, I lovingly released most of my Power Vinyasa offerings, and eventually all of them as I created more space for slow, still and quiet on and off the mat. I adopted more Slow Flow and Gentle Vinyasa practices, and of course now my new favorite, Yin. With a new found passion for stillness/quiet practices, I once again packed by backpack and embarked on a third voyage to India. This time, I was making the journey to the motherland to embark on my 300 Hour advanced yoga teacher training journey with Trimurti Yoga under teachers Karo Sharma, Vamsi Krishna Gadwala, and Bruna Floc. This training was what I had been needing, it was not a vinyasa based training at all. It focused on traditional Hatha Yoga, with a special emphasis on Yin Yoga and it’s relationship to Traditional Chinese Medicine as well as the Five Elements. After spending a couple months in the foothills of the Himalaya with Trimurti Yoga, I soon returned to San Diego where I not only created, but lead my very first 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training with dear friends at Othentik Gym in La Mesa, CA. It was so incredible returning to the states and then shortly after having the opportunity to integrate all of the teachings new and old, into a training of my very own!.This was most definitely another big life changing experience for me, far beyond the mat,

Fast forward to today, there are no more Power Vinyasa classes on my schedule yet alone a schedule where I teach 12-16 classes a week, YIKES! However, every once in a blue moon I will feel the fire burning and answer the call by subbing a few here and there which I always find fun. Over the past two years, really ever since I returned from that third trip to India and following my 300 hour training, my focus and intention has shifted from the weekly classes and invited me to really share my passion and energy through more in-depth and intimate offerings such as retreats. I am so incredibly grateful, immensely humbled to have the opportunity to hold space for others in such a unique way, sharing tools and sacred practices with community, supporting others along their journey to deeper self-realization and authentic expression. Even right now, just in the past two weekends I have been in the mountains, sharing yoga, breath work, meditation tools, mindfulness practices and so much more with some truly inspiring humans. From co-leading an all women’s rock climbing and yoga adventure retreat in the Eastern Sierras near Mammoth Lakes to teaching yoga for mountain bikers in the local San Diego mountains near Mt. Laguna, I am feeling immensely inspired and a term that I have dubbed, SOULSTOKED, beyond belief by each and every person I have had an opportunity to meet. As Baba Ram Dass said, “We are all just walking each other home”, for I feel that I learn just as much from each person as they do from me. With this mantra scribed in my heart, the current vision for my business, my practice, my life, is to continue creating and offering unique experiences, particularly outside in nature, that invite myself and others to go deeper. My intention is to continue to share with others these sacred and ancient practices with community in an approachable and accessible way, and in doing so may I be of service and support as these transformational teachings and practices are integrated into day to day life far beyond the studio, making waves far beyond the mat.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Oh my, smooth…certainly not! But honestly, would not have it any other way : )

Questions like this somehow always bring me back to my Yin Yoga practice and all that has and continues to teach me time and time again. And that would be, BREATHE INTO THE DISCOMFORT, LEAN IN. If things were always smooth sailing, easy, effortless, where and how would we actually GROW and TRANSFORM? It is through the discomfort, the challenges, whole journey infused with ebbs and flows, where we are invited full force to go deeper, to listen and to learn.

Throughout the years I have encountered many hurdles in my teaching/yoga business career. However, I truly believe that what at the time I considered to be an obstacle, actually was a blessing in disguise and became an asset to my growth and spiritual transformation. One big one that just stands out the most, which I am sure for many was the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Right before the pandemic hit, I was flowing and elevating in my teaching, practice and offerings. I had a SOLD OUT international women’s yoga retreat in Bali, Indonesia on the calendar (Which has now been postponed three times because of Covid) and had just a couple months prior to the pandemic, signed a nine month contract with my yoga school in India to join the teaching team in the Himalaya, helping to guide a full season of yoga teacher trainings…which was my dream job offer. and then….well you all know. Life changed BIG TIME. Retreats canceled, trainings cancelled, it all just came to a big halt. For someone whose income specifically relied on creating community offerings where people come together to share space and literally, breath…. I was presented with one of the biggest challenges of my life. However, reflecting back on it now, while it most definitely sucked at the time, financially and beyond, I am honestly truly grateful.

Recently while co-facilitating a women’s climbing and yoga retreat in the mountains, I was sharing with students my mantra from the past two years, which is “Trust the detour”. Oh my, can’t say that enough. While many of my projects, offerings, retreats have been detoured and some just completely cancelled, my yoga practice has been what continues to remind me to lean into the discomfort of the unknown, release expectation, practice non-attachment and truly trust that whatever is meant for me will find me. I know, it sounds cliche and it is certainly by no means easy. But as I mentioned previously, if it was easy, if it was effortless, how would I grow? Just as I share with students, I remind myself daily that our practice is a dynamic blend of what’s called in Sanskrit ~ Sthira “Effort” and Sukha ~ “Ease”. We are constantly being invited to restore balance, to re-unify, and channel in a loving and honest way the two energies, embracing not just the Yin but also the Yang. If Covid never happened happened and my retreat and teacher training had gone as planned, I believe that I wouldn’t have met my life partner and cultivated the relationship that I knew I deserved and have been calling in…. nor would I have found my sweet fur baby, Sukha (fitting name right, remember in Sanskrit it means “Ease”), my now eleven month year old Blue Heeler/Mini Aussie puppy… who has quickly become my adventure partner and one of my best friends. If nothing had been cancelled, and things had gone exactly to plan, I would still be living and teaching in India, which I am sure would have been absolutely amazing, but I would not have had the opportunity to grow and expand my offerings in the way that I have within the past year two years. In this time, I have become clearer in my intention not only as a teacher/facilitator but as a practitioner on and off the mat. I have deepened my relationship with myself far beyond the physical postures and have been invited in the most beautiful way to show up for myself and love myself that much more.

The big pause, the unknown presented by the pandemic, really invited me to go deeper, it honestly called me out in the most loving and kind way. It prompted me to reflect upon questions such as “Why do I teach, what do I offer, how can I learn + grow, where am I holding tension, where do I need to create space?” While at times some of the questions that would pop up brought a bit and sometimes a lot of discomfort, uncertainty, and even irritation, I have found that these were the moments where I actually grew, expanded and elevated the most. The discomfort, the detour, the re-route, the unknown…has and continues to be my greatest teacher, and for this I am incredibly humbled and infinitely grateful.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I am passionate about creating and offering unique transformational healing and soul nourishing experiences on and off the mat locally and far beyond. Whether it be a weekly studio class here in San Diego, a 3-5 month yoga teacher training or a retreat in the mountains, my intention is to offer students/community experiences that invite them to go deeper and serve as a heart space invitation from themselves to themselves to know themselves that much more. I consider myself to be an outdoor enthusiast and steward of the Earth. My personal practice as well as my teachings are highly influenced by nature and I believe that nature has been one of my most profound teachers.

Therefore, I would say that a unique specialization of mine would be that I offer experiences and practices for students that invite them outside, immersed in all of the elements. From yoga + rock climbing retreats, to half day adventures hiking and flowing in the mountains, to international offerings with a schedule infused with activities beyond the mat practice such as mountain biking, swimming with whale sharks, camping in the backcountry to summiting 14,000 foot peaks, I would say I am passionate about offering uniquely curated experiences influenced/immersed in nature, that invite others to step out of their comfort zone and invite them to show up for themselves in ways they may have never imagined. Rock climbing especially, has been one of the activities I have had the opportunity to genuinely witness time and time again, some of the most profound and transformational breakthroughs experienced by another person. There are so many beautiful messages and incredibly potent lessons deeply embedded within activities such as rock climbing and mountain climbing. These experiences in nature with nature, invite us back to our true nature and serve as a humble reminder of how incredibly strong, resilient, loved, and supported we truly are.

I am grateful for the opportunity to support others and join them on their journey of self discovery. Humbled by the opportunity to share these ancient and sacred practices from the East, that have and continue to transform my life in the most amazing ways. My intention is to share them with others in an approachable, relatable and less intimidating way typically through outdoor experiences in nature that invite them to journey far beyond the constructs of the mat and studio setting, guiding them to dig deep into the inner body and practice there. A statement that I have found myself repeating a lot lately has been “Going outside, to go deeper within”. I feel that this statement has been my practice for quite sometime and is reflected in the type of offerings I create and share with my community.

Nature is a humble and beautiful reminder that our true nature, our deepest essence and most authentic expression is peace. I really love the quote by Chinese Philosopher, Lao Tzu that says “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished”. This reminds us that we are nature ourselves, comprised of all the elements, and when we learn to slow down we find that everything gets accomplished. However most of the time, we feel as if we are too busy, constantly moving and in a hurry, too distracted to even listen, never hearing its call. This is what drives me, this is my motivation right there. My intention is to offer experiences, to hold space for others that serve as a reminder, just as I am constantly reminding myself, that our true nature, our pure essence is peace. This is why I love creating and offering experiences that invite others into union with nature, because I find that doing so, that guides them into union with themselves.

How do you define success?
For this question, rather than defining the word success, I am going to define another word, that I feel is not only interchangeable with success but takes it that much deeper. Those of you that know me well, know right away that this word is SOULSTOKED.

SOULSTOKED is a term that manifested from deep within the heart space about six years ago. It’s used to describe an innate soulful feeling. It expresses and serves as a reflection of the embodiment of ones personal truth and freedom of creative + authentic expression. It is the art of living, loving and embracing life fully. A loving reminder to always honor that which makes your soul truly happy. It is the way in which your soul speaks and expresses itself through you in human form. To be SOULSTOKED means that you are flowing from an honest and authentic place, embodying your truth in all that you do. It describes the intimate connection with your highest self, supported by deep loving awareness, a personal invitation from yourself to yourself, to truly LIVE YOUR DHARMA.

Therefore, when you hear the statement “I am SOULSTOKED”, you will know that it describes success beyond measure, reflects a celebration of ones true nature and radiates the loving awareness of boundless pure love that we truly are.

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Image Credits:

Morgan Ellis Ali Kaukas Joey Cobbs, Kylie Clarke (for the main photo)

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