Yogini You Should Know: Hala Khouri
Hala Khouri, M.A., E-RYT, has been teaching the movement arts for over 20 years. Her roots are in Ashtanga and Iyengar yoga, dance, Somatic Psychology, and the juicy mystery of Life itself. Creative movement and honest self-exploration has always been a source of tremendous healing for Hala, and her calling to share this with others has been clear to her since she began teaching at the age of 16.
Hala earned her B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Religion from Columbia University and has a Master's degree Counseling Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute. She wrote her thesis on using yoga and other complementary disciplines such as eco-psychology and somatics for self-empowerment to inspire a global shift towards peaceful and sustainable living. She is also trained in Somatic Experiencing a technique which focuses on trauma's impact on the body-mind and ways to resolve it.
Hala is one of the creators of Off the Mat, Into the World, along with Seane Corn and Suzanne Sterling. This is a yoga and activism initiative that aims to get yogis to take their practice outside of the yoga studio and to touch the lives of others.
Hala has taught yoga and the movement arts to a wide variety of people ranging from schizophrenics and at-risk youth to mommies and rock stars. Teaching is her absolute favorite thing to do! She currently lives in Venice, California with her husband Paul and their two sons.
Recently, I had a chance to talk to Hala over the phone. Check out what she had to say below about Off The Mat, Into The World, her life in yoga, and more.
Tell us about your teaching style and your preference of practice.
My style is very psychological - I'm fascinated by the mind-body connection and how our unconscious shows up on our mat. I use music to create a mood- and sometimes we flow, sometimes we are more still in the poses. Yoga is a powerful medicine and I like to explore a dynamic style of practice that relates to real life and how we can show up with less judgment and more joy.
What's next for Off The Mat, Into The World?
We have grown so fast in the last few years. This year is about maintaining what we have initiated, growing our existing leaders so that they can shine, and developing an advanced leadership training to address social justice and diversity issues. We have 20 people going to South Africa in Febraury, and our Los Angeles Immersion training in April.
In 2009, you answered the age-old question "If I Were President". A year later and things have changed, what would you do?
Not too much. I think that the foundation of conscious leadership is unrelenting self- honesty and self-awareness. The piece I would add is critical thinking about some of our established ideas of right and wrong.
What is your favorite yoga pose?
Right now it is supported bridge pose. After all the slumping over I do breastfeeding and carrying a toddler, that pose is the perfect antidote!
What is the most compromising/precarious place you've ever practiced yoga?
I'm not sure how precarious it was, but it was at about 13,000 feet in Peru, where the clouds were below us.
What is one thing that we (and everyone else) don't know about you?
That's a tough one - I'm very open about myself (probably too open, my husband calls it "over share" which I do a lot of). One thing lots of folks may not know is that I used to be an aerobic instructor. I started when I was 16 before I'd heard of yoga. I loved teaching, getting people inspired and in their bodies.
Thanks for your time Hala!