I first met Christine Burke about 5 years ago. She had taken over Liberation Yoga, a stunning neighborhood studio close to my home in Los Angeles. I was immediately struck by her very unique teaching style. Unlike the somewhat cookie cutter teachers that abound in LA, Christine’s style was very much her own. And she spoke to my heart. The more I got to know Christine, the more I realized that she was more than a standard yoga teacher in another respect too – I realized she was a healer of sorts. No wonder she’s just authored her first book, The Yoga Healer! Christine’s studio, Liberation, is very refreshing because of its low-key, cozy vibe. You get the feeling that you’ve come home when you walk into Liberation. No fancy yoga clothes needed. You just bring along your raw, vulnerable, and often hurting self – and Christine, with her stable of outstanding teachers, will begin your healing journey with yoga.
I invited Christine to teach on my recent Hello Gorgeous wellness retreat. I wanted the best, and there is no better! So, just before the retreat we sat down to chat over a cup of Chai Tea.
Sophie Uliano: What made you want to become a yoga teacher?
Christine Burke: I was an actress (and former dancer) living in New York in my early 20’s and I felt a need for something that would center and connect me. I wanted something to ease the bumpy internal rollercoaster of life that I was on, though I am not sure that I was completely consciously aware of that need. My body had always been a big part of my life as I used it in many ways to express myself, so yoga appealed to me because it was using the body, but in a way that was new to me. After my first class I felt like a window to something much bigger than a new way to move had opened up for me. I experienced a deep peace and grounding as well as a lightness of being. I was glowing and I wanted more of that. My life style was hectic, dramatic, exciting, stressful, alternating between healthy and depleting. I was more into extremes than balance at the time, but when I found yoga I began a journey toward balance and presence that has engaged me ever since.
I actually began to dream about teaching and create themes and classes in my imagination – I was drawn in more intuitively and organically more than deciding upon it. But what was clear and conscious was the desire to connect with people and share the very REALNESS of life. Since the age of 8 I have been awed by the specialness of life and the power of the present moment. However, I spent many years trying to find my center and spinning to future and past bouncing between fear and love, doubt and certainty. I still have those moments but my practice and the teaching have altered my experience dramatically for the better. I think the drive to teach is the drive to share – to find oneness and togetherness and to be of service.
SU: How did you train?
CB: I took a 200 Hour Yoga Alliance Certification Course at Center For Yoga back when it was the largest, oldest and most respected independent studio in the country. It was right when Yoga Alliance was forming and the process to become a teacher was intensified and organized in the United States. I began teaching before I finished and upon graduating launched into a very busy teaching schedule, which was very fortunate. I continued to study with senior teachers through immersions, workshops and eventually more trainings until I became a 500 and then 800 Hour RYT (Registered Yoga Teacher). At this point I have taught thousands of students publicly, privately and within the school system.
SU: You now teach and certify hundreds of teachers? Is this your passion?
CB: My passion is definitely to share this practice with as many people as show up to me in any way. I relish and am passionate about teaching people to teach because they are so hungry for it, so transformed by it, and so willing to dive deep. This brings about incredibly life changing, mind and body altering experiences for us all. It allows me to share the philosophy and the power of yoga in a way that isn’t always possible in a class setting as we have time to develop with and through each other. But my passion for yoga extends in all directions and most recently into writing.
SU: How is yoga a healing practice?
CB: Our natural state is one of harmony, ease, well being, and health. But it is also possible that we come into this life with physical, mental and emotional challenges. As life unrolls our (mostly) balanced eco systems can get disrupted and disorganized as we accumulate physical and emotional baggage. Additionally even the most balanced being is privy to a constant barrage of personal and world events that cause reactions which have an affect on our health and ability to enjoy life. If we don’t have a mechanism, tool kit, belief system or skill set to release, empty or manage this influx we get overwhelmed in every way and the whole system can experience life as though under siege or in danger. This ravages the immune system, can prematurely age us and suck the pleasure out of life even as we seek to engage in the wonder of living. Yoga is an art and a science that weaves together the hard evidence of the benefits the practice has on every aspect of the body and mind along with developing the art of living with less suffering and more presence, and more light. It allows us to manipulate and play with our vital life force and to be collaborators in our wellness rather than operate from a defensive posture. Yoga expands our capacity to experience what is it’s ultimate goal – Liberation – from that which compresses the spirit , diminishes the body and clouds the mind. We are then left to experience the perfection of our being which was there all along. This is healing.
SU: 3 poses you recommend everyday?
CB: This is a bit difficult for me to say as it truly depends on where one begins and what one needs.
But if you were to choose only one pose – MEDITATE.
SU: What is your elevator pitch?
CB: Yoga is for everyone regardless of age, shape or fitness level. Yoga will meet you where you are and take you where you want to be. Yoga is living an examined life which will, if you are consistent, access in you unlimited possibilities and freedom. What is there to lose in trying? Liberate yourself and the world will follow.
SU: What are some of your favorite quotes?
CB:My favorite quotes are:
Be humble for you are of the earth.
Be noble for you are of the stars.
“You can’t cross the sea merely by staring at the water”
Pick up a copy of The Yoga Healer – it’s a prescriptive yoga book, and one to treasure.