Words by C. J. Thomas
Her name is C.J. Thomas. At 27, she is an accomplished enough yoga enthusist to master a 200 hour Hatha yoga course. Seeking to apply what she had learned to heal herself and others, she is busy in the Ashland community. How busy? She has lived here for two years and is has provided public offerings for the past 18 months.
What attracted you to yoga?
I started doing yoga when I was 16. I saw a flyer in my high school and from then on I was hooked. It helps me to find emotional balance and was my first introduction to a spiritual practice that I could actually resonate with.
Throughout the years, it became a powerful anchor I could come back to that would help me move through some of the most challenging times in my life.
It helped me to deal with death, struggles around finances, finding a sense of home, and emotional issues that lead to imbalanced health. It soon became the pathway through which I am able to be of service to the world. All of this keeps me constantly in love with the practice of yoga.
How do you navigate the New Age issues/community here in Ashland/Rogue Valley?
I try to stay grounded in my own truth and always come back to the fact that while we have these beautiful examples of culture that comes from other lineages, culture is something that is created, and therefore it doesn’t have to be taken, or copied. I constantly look for ways that I can honor the origins of what I have learned and share it in a way that is non-stealing, or harmful to others. I always try to learn as much as I can about something and never share it as my own if it is not something I created.
I also deeply honor every aspect of life and realize the harmful effect spiritual bypassing has on myself and others. I believe in seeing life through a joyful lense, but I try not to dismiss the “negative” and see it as an assignment to change my perspective or relate to others on a deeply human level. I believe everything we go through is an important opportunity for growth and transformation and should be fully experienced until we get the lessons we need.
How do you promote yourself?
I promote myself through my online presence and face to face presence with people in the community under my brand Life by the Moon Yoga.
I co-host a bi-weekly meditation group with Kokayi Nosakhere that is accessible online through zoom. The group is called Radical Self Love Meditations.
I also teach a Sunday afternoon yoga class at the Dragon Gongfu Teahouse and hold workshops.
I’m constantly working on new offerings and ways in which I can share what I’ve learned, be of service, and support myself in the process.
How are you received by Black persons?
Since I could never speak for someone else perspective, I don’t have an answer to this question. I believe that the way I see others can create a mirror for how they see me, so I will flip this question.
I will say that the way I receive other black people in my community is with love and respect for the light they are shining. I see so many black people subtly wielding their powerful magic in this world, and I honor every bit of it!
What good feedback loops do you receive from the work you are doing?
I’ve had people share with me how inspiring the work I do is for them. I find so much joy in this because it is my intention to inspire others to action around finding balance and deep self-care practices that they can implement into their daily lives. Whenever I administer a yoni steam that relieves someone’s cramps, share the teachings of Ayurveda that inspires someone to change their routine, or teach a yoga and meditation that enhances one’s inner glow, and they share this feedback with me, I am grateful to be able to share the gifts spirit has given me.
What is self-love to you nowadays?
Self-love to me is feeling fully whole within myself. It is a deep commitment to my practices, and my yes’s and no’s.
I take pride in taking care of myself on the levels of mind, body, and spirit so that I can better show up for my work in the world.
Have people changed the way they respond to you as you have lost weight and/or become more proficient at yoga?
Losing weight was not truly about the pounds or my image, and my yoga practice has never been based on my proficiency because it differs from day to day. Instead, all of this has allowed me to tap into my spirituality and remove energetic blocks that have kept me from feeling fully safe to be open and shine my light in the world.
When I do the work to release my fears and energetic blocks, I am able to share myself more generously with the world, and as a result, I have cultivated deeper and sweeter connections with a lot of people in my community. I have also learned lessons on boundaries and how important it is to honor what feels right for me and what doesn’t and this has allowed me to create more authentic relationships.