Today we’d like to introduce you to Dawn Stillo.
Dawn, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I grew up in Issaquah WA and ended up moving to L.A. in 1982 after placing 4th place in the Miss Issaquah Pageant. The 4th place prize was a small chunk of money to use as a scholarship anywhere I wanted. I picked the Roland Dupree Dance Academy in Hollywood. Dance was my passion, it was my best and only true form of expression. Just three years after moving to L.A. and getting eaten alive due to my naïveté, I began practicing Nichiren Buddhism (chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, (what Tina Turner practices)). Three years after chanting away, I encountered yoga at a gym on 3rd St. I was fascinated with the coordinating breath with movement, something had I known would have made me a much better dancer.
Along the way, I danced professionally (nothing big), got married, raised two amazing boys, became North Ranch Country Club’s singles and doubles champion, accruing many injuries which led me back to yoga heal.
Fast forward 40 years, yoga has become my dance of life, still a great passion of movement, breath, and a type of sensitivity that continues to unveil itself, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
I will share truthfully. The only thing I had going for me in my 20’s was I was somewhat pretty. Sounds weird to say, but I say it to convey that is what I relied on. My inner confidence, self-esteem, etc., was bottom of the barrel. I never thought I could accomplish anything on my own, it would be gifted to me in hopes someone might recognize my potential. I put myself at the mercy of everyone around me. With hope and not even a prayer that my looks would do the trick. Well it did work in attracting drug dealers, con artists, and heroine addicts. It was after being taken by a con artist for 50k (25k from a recent car accident and 25k in debt). I was at my lowest, beyond broke, I went to get a free haircut from my hairdresser. I used to hair model for Mitsu Saito. He saw the sorry state of my life and shared the Buddhist chant Nam-Myoho -Renge-Kyo with me, he invited me to a meeting at his apartment on Melrose Ave that Friday night. I have been a dedicated practitioner since that night 36 years ago. The Buddhist practice bit by bit, challenge by challenge, transformed my inner life from a barren desert to a vast and resplendent inner palace where nothing can undermine 0r destroy my happiness. I lost my sister, my mom, and my teacher, I went through a six months debilitating depression, all of which now I embrace with a wide open heart, as it helps me understand the depths of other peoples suffering, and I can hopefully be a place of comfort and understanding to others.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
My dear friend and fellow yoga therapist, Jennifer Elliott and I started a virtual Yoga Studio and school one year ago to fill a gaping void… We are going strong with 17 teachers and nearly 30 classes /week. the classes range from Therapeutics, Hatha L1, L1/2, L2, Yin, Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Iyengar, Shaiva Yoga, Mindful Meditation, Philosophy, Reiki, and Full Moon ceremony’s, and Punk Rock Dharma Talk with Moon Zappa!
We are proud of the quality of our teachers, most with 10-20 years of teaching experience. This studio is run by two female dedicated yoga therapists/teachers. We are dedicated to bringing quality yoga with the integrity of its lineage. People love the variety and quality of teachers on our site and how personal it feels.
We are celebrating our one year anniversary with a huge Yoga Festival Nov 6 & 7.
Is there any advice you’d like to share with our readers who might just be starting out?
Never let anyone tell you the market is saturated, I saw a card on one of my studio manager’s desk that read “Be so good, they can’t ignore you”. There is no stopping that type of sincerity and determination. The journey becomes conquering self-doubt. My Buddhist mentor, Daisaku Ikeda says “When you break through in one arena in life, you break through all arenas.” Life becomes thrilling, it truly takes a never give up spirit. Whatever you do, do it 100%, if you are a postal carrier, be the best one! Whatever you do, go all in.
- $50, 1 month free with 6 months min. membership
- $15 Drop-in Class
- $20 intro one week pass
- $40 5 visit punchcard
- $69 10 visit punchcard
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: www.Yogaworldheart.com
- Instagram: @yogaworldheart
- Facebook: Yoga World Heart
Photo Cred Kelly Fogel @kellyfogelphotograghy (Insta)