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Life and Work with Yana Kazbekova

Today we’d like to introduce you to Yana Kazbekova.

Yana, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My yogic career is focused on Emotional and Stress Management, Anxiety and Panic Attacks. Besides teaching regular classes, I created and now lead a breathing practicum that I called “Making Peace with Anxiety”. This professional direction is a result of a series of life events that now I am profoundly grateful for.

Back in 2000, I had a terrifying experience that came with a set of completely unfamiliar physical symptoms, along with total loss of control and profound fear. Back then, I was a single mom. I was going through a tough divorce, preceded by 10 years of a devastating marriage. Ambulance came and left without any clear diagnosis. That was how my history of panic attacks began. But it didn’t start out of blue. In those years, I was a young woman who was completely unsatisfied with myself, very unhappy with how my life was unfolding. I was a pleaser and, at the same time, in my own eyes, I was not enough: not good enough, not smart enough, not strong enough, not beautiful enough. Thus, I was making important life decisions out of survival, out of fear of rejection, of judgment, of solitude. My choices back then took me to the best life lessons ever. In those years, I went from sporadic worries to repetitive panic attacks, from a quarter of a psychiatric pill a day to a handful of those pills three times a day, from somatization to a diagnosed mini-stroke. I went from a self-sufficient woman to a shade of a woman, on a wheelchair, who could not hold her head upright. My entire life was shrinking: my activities, my drive, my posture, everything inside and around me was collapsing. I was living with constant body pain, tremors, foggy mind, and terrible insomnia.

One day, I went to my doctor to ask him help me to rid me from those symptoms and end the hell I was living in. I was sitting in front of him on the wheelchair, fidgety, with the non-stop involuntary movements, begging for more prescription drugs. He went through my blood tests, looked at me and said: “Before being a doctor, I am a human being. You are experiencing a strong prescription drug addiction; your blood chemistry is completely messed. If I give you any additional chemical, it could kill you. You have two choices, whether continue your current regimen or quit all meds cold turkey. But know that it would mean a minimum of two weeks of hell, a tough withdrawal that very few humans come sane out of. There is a high risk in there, but there is also a chance… to survive.” I looked at him and said: “I already lost my life force. So, I guess I have nothing else to lose.” And I went for it. I asked my daughter’s father to take her, so she doesn’t witness my withdrawal; I locked my door, and I spent the darkest two weeks of my life. I heard voices and had hallucinations. I didn’t eat or drink and I was vomiting the air I was breathing. I couldn’t even walk to the bathroom, so I peed in my pants in bed. I was not sleeping at all, instead, I was having panic attacks over and over again. The only live being with me back then was my cat, who passed away just a few days ago.

In those weeks, while my body was crumbling and my Ego was powerless, I learned what true faith and surrender mean. I learned about probably the only valuable thing we can rely on – our BREATHING.

After that experience, I devoured tons of books and studies on anxiety. I met a great number of teachers from all over the world, who taught me meditation and breathing techniques. And now I can surely state that breathing is the only way for us to truly reconnect to our self. Back then, I came to a quite revolutionary realization for me: If my state of mind and my emotions affect my breathing, that means I can reverse it and make my breathing shift my emotions and my state of mind. That was a complete new perspective on breathing and it’s new role as a REGULATOR. Given the fact that every emotion has its chemical element in our body, then breathing that changes my emotions, actually changes my whole inner chemistry! That was an AHA moment for me. But that was just half of a thing. The other half was to learn to skillfully use my breathing to help myself in certain life situations. So, I learned… and practiced, practiced, practiced. My life experience was a blessing in disguise, cause it gave a whole new direction to my professional career. All those years, between my first panic attack and my revelation, built a road to what today I call BeingYogaBreathAndColors – my business, my baby, my life purpose. And that’s how my “Making Peace with Anxiety” practicum was born. What initially started as an idea of a practicum, became a whole mission for me – Speak Up Anxiety – raising awareness about non-invasive ways of approaching this condition. I’m taking my message around the globe, collaborating with yoga studios, touching lives, sharing my expertise and experience to motivate my students to shift from the mentality of fear to the mentality of LOVE.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It was quite a bumpy road, that took me from my ashes to being a strong woman who now is helping others on a similar journey, to find and acknowledge their Power, by reconnecting and embracing they’re ‘within’.
I think, my journey began way before my first panic attack. It started when I first felt not fitting in and adopted a belief that I had to deserve being loved. My fear of being judged by others came from not accepting myself when I looked at the mirror and saw the scars on my body. From there, I learned to love what I first wanted to hide. I learned to love that what is under my dress – my physical body, my vessel, my home.

I learned to love what doesn’t fit in the society’s parameters of beauty, what others consider ugly.
Dear girls, wherever you are on your journey of self-acceptance, know that true beauty is not the one that is pleasant to the eye, but the one that shifts paradigms in a most graceful way.

Please tell us about Being Yoga Breath and Colors.
I am a yoga specialist for Anxiety and Panic disorders, creator of ‘Making Peace with Anxiety’ breathing practicum and founder of ‘Balance for Life’ Program for Seniors.

Over the 12 years of my professional practice, I turned my classes into a playful non-dogmatic physical experience, combined with humor, emotional release and lifestyle recommendations.

I think every skilled teacher has a lot under their belt. Over the years we develop a capacity to “read” every student and naturally offer them a safe “no harm” experience. So, maybe what makes me stand out is my multicultural life and professional background. I am Russian originally, lived in both extremes of my humongous country; crossed the ocean for 15 years of complete Mexican and nearly 13 years of Californian immersion. I have an opportunity to teach in three languages and work with a multifaceted American, folkloric South American and Eastern European cultures. I elaborated my proper friendly and tactful, yet delicately strict approach, which does not provoke cultural shock.

I remember my first classes in front of the group. I was standing with closed eyes and my whole face twitching from being nervous about leading a group. One of those days, a statement came to me: “God, I am an instrument in your hands. Thank you for choosing me to be a conduit for your love; for using me to touch my student’s lives and help them heal. I am humbled and grateful to be your messenger”. After that moment, the twitching ceased and I started flowing. Ever since, every class became channeling – a joyful opportunity to be free and create.

There’s a wealth of academic research that suggests that a lack of mentors and networking opportunities for women has materially affected the number of women in leadership roles. Smart organizations and industry leaders are working to change this, but in the meantime, do you have any advice for finding a mentor and building a network?
My advice on that would be: Never stop learning. Take as many classes as you can. Collaborate. Share. Every teacher is a world, regardless. So, take the best of every received experience, honor the foundations and create your own perspective of yoga, “write your own chronicle” in every class you teach.

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Image Credit:
Leena Hannonen, Lana Igor Dovbenko

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