331: Exploring Nature Through Asana with Alison Zak

Spending time in nature can be a part of your yoga practice, but how can you find a deeper connection to nature through asana? Alison Zak is passionate about this topic and joins Shannon in this episode to share her perspective on how we can understand, respect, and learn from nature through our yoga practice.

Alison is an author, yoga teacher, wildlife conservationist, and (a self-described) animal. She loves to encourage her students to find connection with themselves, their fellow human and beyond-human beings, and with nature through yoga.

Alison shares how we can use our yoga practice to honor nature and connect with other beings and why it is so important to seek connection with other animals. She also shares a little more about how we can take inspiration from nature for our yoga teaching and personal practice. Alison offers some practical advice for finding your authentic teaching voice and also has a special surprise for one lucky podcast listener!

Key Takeaways:

[0:00] There’s a book giveaway in this episode!

[0:48] Shannon gives a shout out to sponsor, OfferingTree.

[3:44] Shannon introduces her guest for this episode – Alison Zak.

[6:18] What does Alison do and who does she do it for?

[9:14] Why is it important to bring in the connection between yoga and nature and animals? What benefits does it offer?

“How many hundreds or thousands of times have yoga practitioners and teachers practiced cobra pose? So many. But rarely ever [do they] think about the animal that it’s named after.” ~ Alison Zak 

[13:16] Many people experience fear or cognitive dissonance when dealing with different animals. Alison shares an example.

“We can just get curious about what that animal’s life is like and how they perceive the world. And then, that is the thing that helps us to just realize how connected we are to other beings.” ~ Alison Zak 

[14:49] Alison gives some examples of how she thinks about and reflects on different animals while doing her own yoga practice.

[18:28] What are Alison’s reflections on pigeon pose?

[22:44] How does Alison find that connection to animals in her yoga?

[26:45] Not everyone has the same access to nature to observe animals and wildlife. What does Alison recommend in those situations?

[30:39] Shannon has some news from the team at OfferingTree.

[32:11] What inspired Alison to share the book and who is it geared towards?

“I hope that that connection that we feel with other animals through a yoga practice, for example, leads to treating them with more compassion in our interactions with real live animals that we share the planet with.” ~ Alison Zak 

[35:18] What are some events Alison put together to promote the book?

[36:19] Some people may feel hesitant about making animal noises. Why is that, and how can we work with that?

[44:00] What was the most enlightening or hardest thing for Alison about writing a book?

[48:42] Alison is giving one of her books away to a podcast listener!

[49:20] What is one thing Alison wishes yoga teachers knew about connecting more with nature?

“I will go back to the importance of knowing that we are also animals. We’re not separate from the pigeon or the cobra or the scorpion. When we connect with these other animals, we are connecting with ourselves because we’re all interconnected.” ~ Alison Zak 

[50:02] Stay in touch with Alison via social media or her website.

[51:11] Shannon shares her biggest takeaway from this conversation with Alison.


Gratitude to our Sponsor, OfferingTree.

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