How yoga healed Jamaica's original yogi, Sharon Feanny
After being uprooted from her comfortable country childhood in Jamaica, Sharon Feanny was sent away to boarding school at 14. The experience led Sharon to feel disconnected and unsettled.
"I was quite the lost soul," she says.
It was yoga that helped Sharon heal and find inner peace for the first time.
"My best friend’s mom took me to my first yoga class and I fell in love."
Sharon continued practicing yoga on and off throughout high school and college until she moved to Hawaii at 21 where she studied a course called Strong Stretched and Centered that introduced her yoga, meditation, Tai Chi and raw food.
"It was a game changer, I knew that this is what I wanted to share with the world."
In 1995, Sharon farewelled the corporate world conveyor belt to embark on a journey to become a certified Kripalu yoga instructor and share the healing power of yoga with her island home, Jamaica. Sharon is touted as the soul responsible for introducing yoga to Jamaica. Sharon chats with us some more:
How does teaching yoga make you feel?
When I first started out teaching yoga, I used to spend hours writing out my class format. Now I simply sit quietly before practice and just ask the universe to guide me. What comes through me is simply pure spirit and from a very authentic place.
What is an 'Ah Ha!' moment you've meditated on recently?
Last year I had the privilege of working with a shaman, it was during the U.S. November elections, and I asked her what is the thing we need to know most about this turbulent time on earth. She answered, “We have to become a conduit of love and light, from Mother Earth to Father Sky.” I meditated on this for days and then one day it just became absolutely clear that what the world needs now is for all of us to become conduits of love and light and that’s enough.
It seems very much in line with living consciously. For you, what does that mean?
When I think about living consciously, I think about the message in the word Namaste. For me Namaste means not just the light in me bows to the light in you, but that it is my responsibility to keep my light shining bright, so that I can inspire you to remember to shine yours too. How do I keep my light shining bright? By continuously raising my vibration through yoga, mediation, and conscious breathing, eating a plant based diet, spending time in nature and surrounding myself with like-minded people. I truly believe your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe!
How can individual mindfulness inspire mass change?
When we are mindful we react differently to people, circumstances and changes in our life. Instead of being reactive, we consciously communicate our thoughts and feelings. When we are not fully present with each other or with a situation or a decision that we have to make, we usually react in an unconscious way. By learning to be present on the mat, we learn to be the observer and the witness, to our thoughts and to our relationships, and are able to make better decisions for our lives.
You've travelled a lot. What has that experience taught you?
I love, love, LOVE to travel and I have done some crazy stuff over the years, like hitchhiking from Florida to Alaska when I was 21 and traveling across India all by myself. That was before I had three kids!! Now I’m just so grateful that I live in this beautiful island of Jamaica. My favorite place to travel here is Treasure Beach. We have a little three-bedroom villa on the beach called Shakti Home. And it is truly my Om away from home.
Can you share with us your fondest travel memory?
I have some amazing travel memories but my most recent one was biking through Provence with my husband. Nothing beats biking with red wine. Actually, yoga and red wine is pretty good too!