I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Suzanna Bryant, yoga teacher, filmmaker and wellness coach. I came across her documentary, Yoga Is: A Transformational Journey, and was immediately intrigued. Suzanna is hosting an upcoming online conference, YOGA IS, from April 30-May 3, which I will definitely be tuning in to. I’m looking forward to seeing the interviews with yoga icons like Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman, Baron Baptiste, Shiva Rea, and Seanne Corn, and hearing from health and wellness experts who have adopted a mindfulness practice. Plus every day there will be unique yoga classes to try.
- You went from modeling in Armani photo shoots to being a full-time yogi. What inspired you to make this change?
Modeling for me was something I did part-time to fund my true passion—traveling the world. I have always felt like an old soul and came into this life with a ravenous appreciation for travel, meeting people and experiencing various cultures. One time when I was traveling in Bali, I was practicing alone doing my yoga and meditation class outside in nature, with all the beautiful vibrant green rice fields and flowers surrounding me, and I felt this tremendous sense of peace, this unbelievable state of satisfaction for being completely present with no thoughts of past or future—just fully present in the moment.
And as a long-time anxiety sufferer, I had an ‘ah ha’ moment when one day my anxiety seemingly eased; I didn’t wake up in dread of feeling anxious; I discovered I had learned to control my mind through yoga and meditation, and over time, healed it. I knew I wanted to dedicate my life to this practice and help others from suffering.
- How does your work help people overcome adversity and find happiness?
I love helping people unravel all the perceived stresses of their lives and connect with their true nature, which is happiness, love and ease of being. One important thing to remember is that you are not alone—this is the journey of life. Each of us are placed with certain obstacles in our path in order to grow. Through my work, I help people reconnect to their soul.
A lot of suffering happens with the emotions of fear or getting stuck in something that “happened to us”. The truth is we will all suffer in life and have unbelievable obstacles and circumstances that make us feel not in control and fearful of the unknown. In these moments, we have two choices: to stay in being a victim of circumstance or to go on a journey into the unknown that requires faith, which is where the magic lies. When we trust life, it’s amazing what happens: people and opportunities come in to your life that you never could have imagined. My passion is to help people move through their obstacles and connect back to a state of happiness and self-compassion.
- Your film, YOGA IS, tells a story about personal transformation and how yoga helped you heal. What inspired this inner shift and positive change?
In my journey, such as losing my mother to cancer, I turned to yoga and what I found was this incredible practice that gave me strength to heal and move forward in my life. I know that no matter what life brings me, I have this valuable tool that I can turn to again and again to feel a source of comfort, peace of mind and empowerment. When we have something like this in our lives, we have the trust to go after our dreams or find a way to move through any obstacle and that is where the true transformation happens and healing begins.
- You’ve accomplished so much in your modeling career and your career as a life coach and wellness expert. When was the moment you decided to tell your story?
After the loss of my 57-year-old mother to breast cancer, I was outside practicing yoga under the trees and I had this huge rush of gratitude for this practice that brought me to tears. During her illness, my sisters and I were there every day to take care of her and the one thing that got me through this difficult time was yoga. I reflected on all the obstacles in my life that yoga has helped me through, such as my chronic anxiety. I realized how we all have suffering and this practice is something that I wanted everyone to have the opportunity to experience.
It was in that moment that the film idea came about. Since the film’s release, I have received thousands of emails from people sharing how this film has healed them and transformed their lives.. It is has been an inspiration for me to create the largest online yoga conference in the world that begins April 30th, but is an evergreen product that you can watch again and again for years to come.
- You’ve been very open with your own struggle with anxiety and overcoming grief. What is your advice for people going through the same situation?
First, have self-compassion and understand everyone’s journey is different. And know that you will get through this moment and don’t be afraid of it. Look for the lessons that are being revealed. We each enter this life with its beautiful mystery to discover. If we had all the answers and life was always safe, it would be boring. Know that you are being tested and you are growing by this unwanted feeling or change in life. Feel the emotions; don’t hide them, because by feeling, we heal. Have faith that you are being led into a new world, one that you could not have imaged would be your life in a better way that before. And be in service of others, it takes to focus off ourselves and reminds us that we are part of something larger than ourselves.