This week we're proud to share sisterhood member Lauren Cobb, a dedicated yoga practitioner for over ten years. As a natural teacher and purveyor of inspirational vibes, she strives to provide her students with a physically demanding vinyasa flow paired with uplifting messages that leave students feeling both physically and emotionally empowered. Take her classes locally at SOL Yoga or online via zoom. When she's not on the mat as a student or teacher, she can be found by the pool, on the boat, or enjoying time with her two amazing children that light up her life and her handsome husband in sunny South Florida.
Thank you for taking the time to chat with us Lauren. Tell us about becoming a yoga practitioner and what it means to you?
I have been a dedicated yoga practitioner for over ten years, I completed my yoga teaching certification in 2018, and haven’t looked back. I pride myself on providing my students with a physically demanding Vinyasa flow paired with uplifting messages that leave them feeling both physically and emotionally empowered. Since the onset of shutdowns from the COVID-19 pandemic, I took the bold step of live streaming a 60-minute yoga flow from my dock in Fort Lauderdale. Initially, I used Instagram to stream live, but I eventually switched to zoom. Bringing light, positivity, an amazing workout for the mind and body, and flexibility to people’s lives during this trying time has kept me and countless others going as we flowed from the safety of our own homes. My goal was to make yoga accessible to everyone even when times were tough, so participants can tune in, in order to tune out. I love flowing with friends new and old, from near and far; local friends join me on the dock and via zoom, yogis from all over the world, can join me, too. For many who are now back to work, they can access the prerecorded flows and flow on their own time via vimeo. Like life, yoga is a balance of holding on and letting go, so flow and let go in your own safe space with over 180 prerecorded yoga flows available.
What inspired you to do the work you’re doing?
I discovered yoga over a decade ago, initially as a form of exercise, but I quickly learned that yoga is so much more than a work out. It is a work in. And that is the point of spiritual practice; to make us teachable, to open up our hearts, and focus our awareness, so that we can know what we already know and be who we already are. Additionally, I always looked for the right physical outlet for myself as I never really connected with traditional exercise routines, and yoga offered me a way to challenge myself more than just physically, it’s a spiritual and mental workout which has ultimately opened me up to such a deeper understanding of myself.
How does surrendering play a part in yoga?
Sometimes, the best thing you can do is not think. Not wonder. Not imagine. Not obsess. Just breathe and flow with your body. And have faith that everything will work out for the best. This is yoga. The opportunity to breathe and move your life forward in the most amazing and profound ways. In today’s world that is defined by 24/7 multi-channel media and instant gratification, surrendering to my mat and my practice offers me a window back to when times were simpler, and a chance to slow down and enjoy my body, my breath and my surroundings.
What advice do you have for someone who struggles with letting go of control?
Surrender isn’t about giving up; it’s about letting go and it’s often misunderstood as a weakness. To surrender is the bravest thing you can do. When you let go of what was, you free yourself from the burden of a past you cannot change. This is the beauty of yoga. It is a dance between control and surrender, between pushing and letting go – and when to push and when to let go is part of the process of learning to release the need to be in constant control. Yoga teaches us that when you get tired, you rest. It’s not about giving up; it’s about giving in and honoring what your body needs in that moment. Letting go gives you freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. Yoga brings you back to the present moment with each breath you take and reminds you to let go of what you think your life is supposed to be and start celebrating it for everything that it is.
Can you give an example of a time you surrendered — and what the outcome was?
After years of yoga, I am slowly but surely learning to go with the flow. When things go wrong, which they often do, like when the music suddenly stops during a yoga class or logistical issues arise during a yoga retreat that I am hosting, I am finally able to surrender and truly trust that what’s meant to be, will be. I have redefined my narrative by often repeating this mantra: control the controllables. I may not be able to control the Wi-Fi or the Bluetooth connection or the weather, but I can always control my breath.
I will be forever grateful for the path that yoga has put me on, as it has helped to change and define my life in the best ways possible and it has compelled me to surrender, reminding me that I can’t control it all. When forced to choose between teaching at two studios, one of which had my roots, but the other my wings; I realized the universe was simply saying to me: one door is closing behind you as another opens in front of you. Embrace the new and keep moving forward. It is a privilege to teach and guide countless students and truly a humbling honor to share something that means so much to me with each student wherever I have a chance to meet them. Life is full of choices, so I have made the choice to live life not by chance. I continue to choose to be motivated, not manipulated; to make changes and not excuses; I strive everyday be useful, not used. Every choice that I make is a reminder to keep listening to my inner voice, to keep breathing, to keep being me!
You often use poems from Self Love Poetry for Thinkers & Feelers in your captions (thank you). How did you discover the book and how has it played a role in your self love journey?
Instagram not only connects me to the rest of the world, it connected me to you. I am so thankful for this platform that connects like-minded people and I have learned that the things that excite you are not random, they are connected to your purpose; follow them. Melody’s poems connect with my soul and the Fred and Far community that you have created is truly a magical movement, because it’s true, self-love fuels all love. And in the wise words of, Melody Godfed, “when everything feels like simply too much remember this: there are parts of you that were designed to handle precisely these moments.” Technology is evolution, so as we continue to be thinkers and feelers in this fast-paced world, let’s stay connected as we all keep on keeping on!
Can you give us a story that exemplifies why you get fulfillment out of the work you do?
Yoga unites our hearts, mind, body and spirit, and it unites us with the people around us. Every time I teach a class, I lovingly acknowledge this connection that we are all collectively creating on our mats with each other, while also deepening the sense of connection with ourselves. I remind students almost daily to simply start where you are, use what you have, and do what you can, and if it ever becomes too much, simply drop back down into child’s pose, at any point, on or off of your mat. As long as you are breathing, you are doing it right, but is pretty miraculous to witness first-hand the transformation that occurs while watching my students move on their mats. From seeing the excitement of someone finally touching their toes to watching someone experience that feeling of weightlessness when they find their center of gravity trying an inversion, it is hard to describe, because yoga does not just change the way we see things, it transforms the person who sees.
Is there a roadblock you had to overcome to get where you are today? How did you do it?
Sometimes yoga poses can act as metaphors for life. When I struggle with a pose or struggle to find my balance, I am forced to literally take a big inhale and then let it all go. As I sigh it all out, I start to loosen up. To lighten up. I can only then find the rhythm of my breath and begin to find the balance between my body, mind and soul. Allowing me to fine-tune myself to a point where everything functions beautifully from within and the best of my abilities start to naturally flow out of me.
For example, Pincha Mayurasana pose or forearm balance was a posture I struggled with, for years. I couldn’t figure it out. A teacher once said to me, Lauren, stay on your mat, but what did she mean? I was literally on my mat, trying my hardest. But in hindsight, I now realize, I was energetically all over the place, flailing around, trying too hard for all the wrong reasons. My ego was in control. Being a type A person, relinquishing that control was hard. I had to surrender. I had to release the need to master the pose. As soon as I stopped trying. It happened, effortlessly. I’ll never forget that class. I just floated up into forearm stand. I felt weightless and free. Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t. Simply said, when you own your breath, no one can steal your peace. When I came back to my breath and I found that sense of peace, I relinquished the need to be control, I let things go, if only for the fact that they felt heavy and I needed to find that place of peace.
Is there something you consider yourself an expert in? What has it taught you?
I feel that I have a great ability to connect with people. I have been told in the past that I am empath, but empathy is simply listening, holding space, withholding judgement and connecting with someone else; reminding them that they are not alone. I do not consider myself an expert, but I do believe in my ability and that stems from my sincere desire to help people find a deeper connection with themselves. It’s truly inspiring to watch my students, both in person and online, find a deeper connection with themselves, on and off their mats. I am lucky enough to live a beautiful life and I believe wholeheartedly that it is because you get what you give and when you give good, you get good. It’s not a job, it’s my purpose. To share my yoga with the world as a means to connect and hopefully inspire those in need because if you are lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it.
When was the last time you had to be super brave?
Following my heart and leaving the Yoga Joint where I first taught.
Jumping off a 30’ cliff in the Bahamas.
Becoming a full-time 3rd and 4th grade elementary school teacher during the COVID lockdowns.
Skiing out of bounds on the back side of Aspen Mountain this past winter.
Being a Mama, today and every day.
What does choosing yourself mean to you?
It means focusing on your mental and physical health first, so that you have more to offer others. So much of what we do as a society now is about showing others what we are doing on social media or just keeping up with the constant rat race and choosing yourself is an important choice when it comes to mental and physical health. It’s all connected. Your gifts, your circumstances, your purpose, your imperfections, your journey, your destiny. It’s molding you, embrace it.
How do you practice self love and care on a daily/weekly basis?
Like I tell my students on the mat, when you get tired, take a break. I have learned to rest, to listen to my body and honor what it needs; whether it’s to take a child’s pose or take a bath. When I get stuck or tangled up, I have learned to stop trying to force the solution, to slow down, I mean really slow down and love myself a little more. I love a good bath, soaking in a warm tub always me to slow down and shift inward, it’s a gentle reminder to soak in the healing energy of the world around me. It’s only when I back off and take time for me that the answers naturally emerge from that place of peace and natural instinct within.
When you were a child, what made you the happiest?
Looking back, I was probably happiest when I made my family proud, and if I’m honest that is still true to this day. But what I have learned is that people pleasing is more about the desire to be in control than it is to please those you love. Wishing to be liked by others is symptom of the desire to be in control because deep down, I just want to feel worthy. But what I now know is that I am enough. Just as I was and just as I am. I am full of passion and compassion and I genuinely want to make the world a better place. I love hard. I practice kindness. And even when I doubt myself or fear that I am not enough, I know that I am.
What is your advice to your 18, 25, and 30 year-old self?
18 - Don’t sweat the small stuff and it’s all small stuff.
25 - Be brave, embrace your uniqueness. Help yourself by holding your beliefs and values more important than the status quo. Don’t be afraid of losing people. Be afraid of losing yourself by trying to please everyone around you. As you start to live from your heart you will start to find your true self. Be fearlessly authentic. Bravely be you.
30 Get happy now. If you aren’t happy, figure it out. We are put on this earth for a purpose. Find your purpose. Find something that lights you up, that makes you happy, that ignites your passion and brings joy to your life. The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.
What do you love most about yourself?
I love that I try not to take myself, or life, too seriously.
I love the life that I have built with my husband and children by my side.
My husband often reminds me, “buy the ticket and take the ride” and I love that I know without a shadow of a doubt that this is just the beginning of a grand adventure!
What is something you're willing to be vulnerable about with us?
I often times say too much or the wrong things to people and unknowingly hurt their feelings, and that is because I wear my heart on my sleeve and pride myself on being the most authentic version of myself, but sometimes I may be a little too real. I am willing to admit that I am a work in progress, and I am committed to doing the work while enjoying the ride. I have learned that I may be too much for some people, but those just aren’t my people.
What is your message for our community?
In a world full of social media, hashtags and followers, the ability to recognize and appreciate the true importance of human connections, prioritizing your physical and mental health over likes, and endeavoring to simply make someone smile every day will guide you to a much happier and more fulfilling life. Being present and happy are choices, and I would encourage everyone to use yoga and the time spent on their mats as a sounding board for making the best decisions relative to their happiness and being present in this life.
Anything you have going on right now that you want to promote or share?
You can join me for a Weekend of Wellness in Paradise: September 9 – 12, 2021
Recharge. Renew Rediscover. You’ll experience three days of curated daily yoga lead by me and meditation sessions lead by Pam Butler amidst the beauty of the pink sands on Harbour Island in the Bahamas. Live chef demonstrations by Dean Max and healthy cuisine including breakfast, lunch and dinner are included. Luxury accommodations at Pink Sands Resort and the allure and culture of Harbour Island are awaiting you. For reservations and more information contact: 855-855-9621 www.PinkSandsResort.com
Connect with Lauren on Instagram @laurencobbyoga or live at SOL Yoga in Fort Lauderdale and through a Virtual Vinyasa via zoom. For those who like to flow on the go, you can also access prerecorded yoga flows, for free, via vimeo. All of the links, and more, can be found here.