An interview with Liz Sostre
What skills do you bring to your job at the front desk at Integral Yoga?
The skills I bring to my workplace at the front desk are warmth, loving-kindness, and ahimsa (nonviolence), the first limb of Patanjali’s eightfold path, commencing with myself, staff, and ending with everyone who walks through the front door.
I do realize that warmth, loving-kindness, and compassion are not necessarily skills, but gifts I embody and have embraced long before I was conceived. (Like all of us).
It is my belief that effective listening is one of the most important skills of all. It is a skill that takes time to learn and process. I am mindful of it and practice daily, though some days are certainly ambitious! (chuckling)
Effective listening is not an easy skill since my conditioning has been to react, misinterpret, and make up my own narrative. However, when I began spiritual practices, personal development, and transformational work, I had to learn to listen to silence… in silence. I worked on deconstructing my past to allow me to live in the present and that is how I am able to stand in front of the boat looking forward, rather than over my shoulder.
Once I began that process, I learned the benefits of effective listening, which also afforded me the ability to communicate more effectively. What a win!!! Interestingly enough, these practices became an aid for me during my yoga journey – being still, listening in silence, and meditating – helped me pick up alert signals within my mind, body, breath, and spirit.
It is imperative that those I encounter are made to not only feel but experience me as someone who is interested in what they have to say, share, and ready to be of service.
Other important skills I bring to my workplace are integrity and team player spirit. Long ago, I made a commitment to live my life in integrity and gratitude, and with this came an awake-ness. An example is learning to trust myself and acknowledge daily blessings from the moment I awake and to operate from another level of consciousness. To me, it is more important to be cognizant of how I am being, rather than what I am doing.
Having a team player spirit affords you the opportunity to be supportive and carry out an amicable and professional buddy system. Ultimately, you learn about each other and end up caring about the person you work with. I make observations, but refrain from judgments that are not the practice of loving-kindness.
You also teach a Level I class. What do you hope your students will experience in your class?
I teach a Level I class to my private clients, as well as at the yearly yoga/wellness retreats that I facilitate. However, since I have been at Integral Yoga Institute, I now teach an Integral Yoga inspired class. I have made the shift from Vinyasa flow to Hatha Level I. What a different experience for my students! They get to learn what movement is and how to allow their body to absorb and settle into each asana. My hope is that my students will experience the feeling of being in a safe place where they can trust my guidance, and acknowledge where they are without judgment, but with self-love and self-compassion; and to experience their body as a temple and learn how to better care for it.
A human body is like a body of water. It flows gracefully and at times with a little intensity. It is supple, fluid, and adaptable to its surrounding environment. My hope for my students is to let them learn as much as possible about their body/temple, in a way that they have not explored, to see and feel grace, and the suppleness and strength within their temple. They get to acknowledge the value of their body as a whole system of love, pain, freedom, expression, and vitality.
Swami Satchidananda states in his book, To Know Your Self, “If you lose peace, you won’t be able to help anyone else, let alone yourself. A spiritual seeker is like a tender young tree that needs the protection of a fence around it while it is growing. It is easily disturbed and affected. After it has grown, it becomes a great, strong tree, offering fruits and shade for all and nothing can disturb it. So, know your own strength now and avoid disturbances to your peace of mind. Choose your company wisely. After all, what is the most precious thing? Peace of mind.” How beautiful, profound, and true this is!! The one commonality that stands out, that we experience as teachers and students, is a kind of practice that encompasses the mind, body, and spirit…the path to peace, enlightenment, and joy. We are all trees growing in different spurts and places – seeking, experiencing growth and strength, and finally embracing the blessing of bearing fruit to share with others.
I live my life purpose – with unconditional love, enthusiasm, and gratitude. Being of service to others allows me to witness and experience my student’s growth and transformation in mind, body, and spirit.
What do you love about Integral Yoga?
There certainly is a lot to love about Integral Yoga, starting with the Shop on the ground floor. From the moment you walk in there is warmth and peacefulness that has an inviting ambiance. For example, the lighting, the aroma of Palo Santo incense, the soothing music, and recent addition of organic herbal teas are all delightful to one’s senses and palate. The assortment of books and categories makes for stimulating conversations. Once curiosity is sparked the mind becomes a ribbon of colors and all you want to do is experience and explore this haven that truly embodies the mind, body, breath, and spirit.
I love the accessibility to the myriad of healing workshops and classes, commencing with the practice of Hatha, Restorative, Yin, Gentle Yoga, that lead to an inner path within the body for one’s blood to flow fluidly, freeing one’s body from pain, stress, discomforts, and/or trauma, and bringing one’s temple back to a place where they can retreat with conscious breath.
In addition, I love the healing gong bath, provided by Subrah, a devoted and passionate teacher who offers all students and visitors a replenishing, resetting, and energetic realignment that frees the body from physical burdens and attachments.
I love that I am in an environment that I feel safe in and affords me the kind of support that is uplifting, compassionate, kind, and loving. The funny thing is that I have practiced yoga here at Integral on and off for several years and in the recent year or two, I took a few classes and became a Karma Yogi. I left Integral three times for personal reasons and found myself returning, again, and again and again! My husband said to me, “I think this is your place, Sweetie-Pie.” I chuckled and remarked, “I concur. I believe I found my community.” Much thanks to Pune Dracker and Radha, our Executive Director, I am now happily employed here.
Liz Sostre returned to her love for yoga and writing during the time she took ill with Stage 3 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, in 2009. Upon learning she could not return to her career as an educator for the Department of Education, she took time to rediscover herself. As she continued her new journey, she developed interest in several healing modalities, which led her to becoming a Reiki master, yoga teacher, yoga/wellness retreat coordinator, life and holistic health coach, and a transformational trainer.
She wrote her first workshop, “Living Towards Wholeness” in 2019, which she continues to facilitate and promote, as her belief is that personal growth is born through the process of both spiritual and transformative work, springing one into a state of awareness, breakthrough, and application. Her vision for the world is connection – to connect in a space of respect, love, compassion, and peace. She has a BA in English Literature/Creative Writing and went to Graduate school for Clinical Counseling. Liz is currently writing a book, Deconstructing Your Past To Live In The Present.