"My goal is to help people wake up to the power that is in their bodies and their own ability to access that power."
Adriana Rizzolo is a New York based yoga & meditation teacher, healer, and student of spirituality - she has studied with David Harshada Wagner AND Ram Dass!
What first caught my attention about Adriana was her incredibly honest writing. She writes about her own transformational journey, freedom, radical aloneness, and the trials and tribulations of being on a path. I found myself checking her blog for posts that I could relate to in a sometimes uncanny synchronicity kind of way while Jess and I were driving around America filming Ways Of Living in 2014.
Adriana also leads consciousness workshops in yoga & the art of loving, and she is co-founder of Awakened Feminine - a community supporting women who are seeking transformation and enlightenment.
How did you find yourself teaching yoga? What is unique about the way you teach yoga?
I found myself teaching yoga before I was even technically a yoga teacher. I had been practicing for some years and just thought I'd give teaching it a shot. So I got a gig at a studio in my neighborhood. I have always started doing things before I really knew how. I soon realized that I didn't. Know how, that is. I went searching for a training to learn more about teaching. That's where I met my current teacher.
"I have always started doing things before I really knew how."
I have a lot of personal experience with transformation and healing through yoga. That's what qualifies me more than anything else. I want people to feel seen, and have an experience of love working with me. My goal is to help people wake up to the power that is in their bodies and their own ability to access that power. Then live and create from there. I would say what is most unique about what I offer is a deep and authentic spiritual connection and ability to share that with others.
How did Awakened Feminine come to be? What are its priorities?
Awakened Feminine will turn three this year, and began as a women's group in my living room in Brooklyn. It really came from a deep soul connection I had come into with my AF partner, Taryn Longo. We met right in the midst of some serious transformation we were both going through and formed this bond that was super positive and loving and unlike any friendship we ever had with any other woman before.
One of AF's main priorities is to serve Women and support them on their individual and unique paths of transformation. To provide a place where women can get a hit of connection to a part of themselves that maybe isn't nourished in other relationships they have. The name just came to us and it really represents who we are and what we stand for.
Awakened Feminine prioritizes living really true and having each others backs in deep ways. We help each other grow and transform and take our paths very seriously. AND we aren't afraid to love each other and consciously practice being intimate and JOYOUS with each other through connection and conversation. It's such a beautiful way to live and grow together.
What does "feminine energy" / "the divine feminine" mean to you? What role does feminine energy play in your life?
It's actually a deep thing and I just recently wrote a whole post about (that you can read here). To be connected to my feminine energy means to be able to relate heart to heart to other men and women in their power, while I'm in mine. In a super non sexy practical way it's about being mature, being an adult. In the spiritual sense but also in my life.
A connection to feminine energy and sharing from that place is a HUGE part of my purpose and mission in life. It's about knowing the power I hold as a woman, being fearless, softening to it, and embracing it. To be a way-shower for what is possible in terms of connection and love and what happens when we live from the power and wisdom we hold inside.
"To be connected to my feminine energy means to be able to relate heart to heart to other men and women in their power, while I'm in mine."
What and/or who inspires you?
I will say what really inspires and gets me off is Truth and the power of transformation. And anyone that is willing to share it, take it, or live it. Whether it's in an AA meeting I'll attend from time to time, or Ram Dass on The Truth About Love, the great Mystics that sang and wrote about the Truth of our existence and being, or my teacher who is all about living true and loving hard.
Love is also and ultimately what keeps me going. As cliche as that sounds coming from a yoga teacher, I was hell bent on experiencing the love within. My heart's longing is a never ending place to quench my thirst for truth and love. Since I was little I remember wanting to know and learn all about it. The energy and power of Love has helped me heal so much, shift big patterns in my family and create a life free from habitual tendencies. Or at least begin to at this point.
My teacher Harshada and his connection and energy is not only inspiring but transformative to me. Same with my Awakened Feminine partner, Taryn. Nikki Costello and Bobby Clennell are incredibly skillful and loving yoga asana teachers that inspires such a cool opening in my body.
What is it about (your spiritual mentor) David Harshada Wagner's teachings that most resonate with you?
His no bullshit approach but more than that there is an intensity to him that I really Love. I never felt allowed to feel as intense as I knew I was inside until I started working with him. His teachings come from his practice and living them. They come from his own experience, so it's not just intellectual knowledge. It's wisdom. That has helped me to get in touch with my own power, gave me a connection to my own wisdom. He's the most loving teacher I've ever met, but he also isn't afraid to say things you may not want to hear that will help you get free from what's holding you back from being happy and on track with your purpose in life. That is rare to find in teachers these days. We all would rather be liked. I've also seen him help so many people transform their lives for good. That is what inspires me. And we have a sweet connection that resonates on a soul level.
"I never felt allowed to feel as intense as I knew I was inside until I started working with him."
Can you talk a bit about your experience with Ram Dass?
The retreat I went on with Ram Dass was a trip. It was in a super powerful and beautiful spot in Maui and there were 300 people there. After assisting Harshada on retreats all these years, I have become very sensitive to the subtle aspects of transformation and peoples' processes. Part of what I do is support that process for others. Anyway I was there to receive healing and love, and to move into a new phase of my life.
This was different because I was out of my comfort zone with my people and my soul family. Ram Dass has been doing sadhana for a long time, so it was beautiful and deep to meet him and give respect to someone that has inspired and connected me to my own heart through his books and teachings. To think back to swimming with him in the ocean with his sunglasses on while we all chanted "Oh Joy" over and over can really put things into perspective. Not sure what kind, but a different one for sure...
What has your path to here been like? When and how did you find yourself on this path? Did it require transformation?
This is a question that deserves a book to answer perhaps, one day. I will just say yes, my path has required a ton of steadfastness and devotion to transformation. I have been interested in spirituality since I was young, my grandmother was really into mysticism and gave me a lot of books when I was a teenager. And having an addict for a father, and growing up around a lot of crazy people, helped too.
I had my first big awakening around four years ago and got sober a year after that, and that's when I started experiencing fast and big shifts in my life. I had been practicing yoga since college and the physical practice helped keep my head above water so to speak. My father passed when I was 24, and after a couple years of being pretty depressed and suppressing it all with a lot of weed, I found myself super unhappy and about to become a yoga teacher. I knew I needed help, and it came to me in the form of a teacher. That's when the big transformation started. And has been going strong ever since.
What are some of the challenges that come with your lifestyle?
One challenge, I would say, is when you are committed to your truth, you are going to hurt people's feelings and in turn yours will get hurt too. When you are dedicated to living an awakened life, you have to feel everything. There's a certain pain that you feel when you are awake that you can get away with not experiencing when you're not. It's why a connection to spirit, to what holds all of it, is so important. To just be with my emotions as they come and not hold on to them too tightly, either. That's been a challenge for me up until now. You can't just ignore your heart anymore, which is a beautiful thing, but is not always easy. You have to change and let go of people and relationships and so many things when you choose to constantly evolve. There's a discomfort sometimes too, when you are a spiritual warrior, and being awake to life sometimes just totally sucks. We just learn how to navigate it all differently. I try to keep what's sacred to me at the center of my life, and that really helps.
"There's a certain pain that you feel when you are awake that you can get away with not experiencing when you're not."
How do you handle conflict or opposition when it comes to your beliefs/priorities?
A good balance of speaking my truth and practicing healthy detachment. If I'm really taking care of myself and keeping my priorities in check then the conflicts come and go pretty quickly. But they definitely come, that's for sure. I also feel like one of the reasons I love being a teacher is to provide a space for people to have their own experience. That's so important. I'm not about putting my beliefs on anyone or anything, but I am about fearlessly sharing my experience and giving space for others to do the same. Then we're relating heart to heart. Conflicts come from our minds.
What's one easy way you would advise anyone to change the world?
Get to know the power of your own heart.
Do you have a quote or mantra that you try to live by?
'Love Hard Live True' is one of Harshada's mottos that I live by for sure. 'Love and Serve' is a good one if I am having a hard time, to take me out of being self absorbed. And the mantra 'YES' just fucking wakes me up. But that stuff only works if you have some experience of it, I've found.
What are some of your goals for 2015?
Some goals for 2015 are to travel more, teaching. To sing more Kirtan and really help women come into a deeper connection with their authenticity and fearlessness with sharing their gifts. To spread my message with AF and Awakened Feminine Yoga. I want to move out of the city sometime in 2015 and have more space to write and start working on some different projects. Create more space for family. Creating my life from this new space of happiness and love I have recently come into. To continue supporting the people I love so much in my life.
Are you optimistic about the future?