What is an empowering woman? Immediate words that often come to mind are attributes like strong, courageous, genuine, and influential. But when you look up the actual definition of 'empower,' it means to make someone else stronger and more confident; to give power to another. That is what an empowering woman does above all else - she instills power, strength, and confidence in others.
We are surrounded by so many incredible woman at KiraGrace, and we want to share a piece of their stories and characters with YOU in the hope that they will empower you the same way they've done for us. We will be highlighting different women who inspire us, challenge stereotypes, and are just, well, fabulous!
We are so excited to present the fourth issue of our empowering women series with someone that has been with the KiraGrace community from the start. Our Global Ambassador Desirée Rumbaugh is an inspiration to so many, as the compassionate lessons she imparts on her students not only expand their practice, but also go beyond yoga class and help to improve lives off the mat.
Desirée has been practicing yoga for over three decades. She is a yoga teacher who spreads her practice through innovative and transformative workshops as she travels the world full-time. Her teaching style balances humor with authenticity, and she is known for deepening the most new to the most seasoned practices. For Desirée, yoga goes beyond just a lifestyle; it has helped her to recover from deep grief as a bereaved parent. She believes that through teaching yoga, she has been sent on a healing mission to share what she has learned about regaining joy after tremendous loss.
Desirée leads a life full of many different pursuits, including producing a DVD series entitled “Yoga to the Rescue”, regularly contributing to Yoga Journal, and supporting nonprofits like the Art of Yoga Project that serves teenage girls in the juvenile justice system. She recently co-authored a book with Michelle Marchildon called Fearless After Fifty: How to Thrive with Grace, Grit and Yoga. Desirée is also featured in a new book called S.H.E. Share-Heal-Empower, which is a collection of inspiring stories from women all over the world written by Shannon Hogan Cohen. If you’d like to practice with Desirée, check her website to see her extensive schedule. She also has online classes available through Tint Yoga, Yoga Download, Shri TV, OMstars and Gaia. Desirée and her husband Andrew Rivin are both certified Anusara teachers who currently live in Southern California, where they spend plenty of time with their adorable granddaughter and grandson. Check out her site.
We’re so excited to be able to feature Desirée in our Empowering Women series, and we loved learning more about what inspires her both in her yoga practice and her daily life . . .
KG - If you could describe yoga in three words, what would you say?
DR - Curiosity, transformation, understanding. The practice of yoga demands of us the willingness to know ourselves on a very deep level, to be courageous enough to weather the transformation process of evolving and the ability to accept and understand life from an ever-expanding vantage point.
KG - Could you describe your teaching “Love is Stronger than Fear”?
DR - "Love is Stronger than Fear" continues to describe the message that I both teach and aim to live. My goal is to nurture and encourage the potential I see in myself and my students. Rather than fearing our real and perceived limitations, I suggest that whenever we perceive something as a problem or experience suffering in any way, we look for possibilities and creative solutions rather than avoiding or trying to escape. One of my all-time favorite TV shows was MacGyver!
KG - What has challenged you the most in your yoga practice?
DR - The delicate balance of seeking outside guidance and then following someone else’s suggestions while simultaneously listening to my own inner wisdom. It’s a very interesting dance and it continues to keep me in the seat of the student. In my opinion, the practice of yoga teaches both.
KG - What do you want your students to take away from their practice with you?
DR - I definitely want them to leave my workshops inspired and uplifted, ready to take on the world. I hope they find helpful suggestions that encourage them to do whatever is necessary to heal their physical bodies and to work to let go of their emotional pain. Finally, I hope they experience the play as well as the work involved in this journey. I hope that I model a person who is dedicated and disciplined, but not so serious. We laugh a lot in my workshops.
KG - What was the inspiration behind Fearless After Fifty: How to Thrive with Grace, Grit and Yoga?
DR - Michelle Marchildon and I wanted to create a book that put this message of fearlessness out to the community of yogis in mid-life and beyond. In the book we acknowledge that there are real problems that older bodies face in this journey, yet we also offer inspiration to encourage people to seek help and move past fear that may be keeping them stuck in body or mind. Fear is easier to sell, but Michelle and I believe in our message. We are doing our own work and we are very open about the ups and the downs and the reality that we and many others we know are experiencing with the aging process. As I approach my 60th birthday I can say that I am beginning to truly understand that “aging is not for sissies” while simultaneously getting that “life is short."
KG - What is your favorite destination you’ve ever travelled to?
DR - I truly enjoy and appreciate my travels everywhere, because I always learn new things and meet new friends. I am especially drawn to places in the developing world such as India, Thailand, Peru, Bali and South America. I appreciate the sights, sounds, colors, food and the people in these rich cultures that are so different from my own.
KG - What is an essential part of your day?
DR - I love mornings! They are my best time for meditation, self-care, including exercise of all kinds, and communication with people all over the world. I am fortunate to have a work schedule that allows me to have three or four very spacious mornings per week.
KG - What is your favorite yoga pose of the moment?
DR - My favorite yoga pose of the moment continues to be baddha konasana. It immediately tells just how much freedom I have in my lower back and hips. And now that I have learned how to free those areas when they feel tight this pose is helpful as both a warm-up and then a re-check.
KG - Can you describe what Wisdom Warriors is?
DR - Wisdom Warriors™ is a name I like for people over the age of 50 who are willing to work steadily and safely to remain strong and vital in their body, their mind and their practice. We don’t shy away from anything out of fear. Instead we persist in seeking answers and assistance for whatever condition we are dealing with at any given moment. We consider our obstacles to be the journey rather than an obstruction blocking us from our path. It’s more about an attitude than any kind of attainment. Wisdom Warriors know deep in their soul that life is short and every moment is precious. They are very lovingly disciplined people who know how to work hard and also how play joyfully. Every year we are lucky to be in our body gives us greater perspective and more wisdom so we are proud of our age and sometimes we even lie UP by five or ten years! Try doing that next time someone asks how old you are.
KG - What accomplishment or aspect of your work are you most proud of?
DR - I am proud of the connections and true friendships I have made and continue to make along the way as I travel and teach. I am incredibly delighted to still be hanging out with friends and students from twenty years ago and beyond. Sometimes I meet people who haven’t studied with me in over ten years and I am quite honored that they still come back to see what I am up to now—even if their first time in my class was a bit scary. That definitely tickles me.
KG - What makes you feel empowered?
DR - When I can do the work to feel my emotions deeply and then transform my mental state from one of negativity, including fear, sadness, despair or guilt, back to a lighter place of courage, joy, hope or acceptance, I feel empowered. I also feel a bit empowered when occasionally I can find my balance in a handstand.
KG - And last, but definitely not least, what is your favorite KiraGrace piece that you own?
DR - Right now I am really digging KiraGrace solid color leggings and matching tops of all designs. The monochrome look appeals to me for it’s elegance and simplicity and these clothes are so well made that they never fail to flatter and support me. This includes the crop tops that I dare to wear-- now that I work out regularly in the weight room.
Thank you Desirée!
If you enjoyed this blog, check out our others like: "Empowering Women Series: Sianna Sherman," "Empowering Women Series: Octavia Raheem," “Empowering Women Series: Christina Sell", and "The Art of Aging Gracefully: Issue 2."