Updated: Aug 28, 2019
We are over the moon to announce our partnership with Lauren Eckstrom for an upcoming Sacred Woman Gathering; The Art of Sacred Self-Care, on September 8th! It is our great pleasure to introduce you to this remarkable woman in this latest issue of Lifting the Veil.
Lauren is a Los Angeles-based yoga teacher, yoga teacher trainer, mindfulness meditation teacher, author, and co-founder of Inner Dimension Media with her husband, renowned yoga instructor Travis Eliot. Lauren is devoted to being of service and helping people discover healing and transformation. She leads yoga teacher trainings and retreats all over the world.
Lauren is a native Angeleno and attended UCLA studying theater, film and television. From an early age she was interested in the profound impact that storytelling had on people, noticing how they could be moved by watching a story unfold - whether that was a movie, a TV show or a play. Her uncle was a big advocate of the arts and it was through him that Lauren was exposed to theater, attending plays and getting the opportunity to travel to London regularly to see incredible theater with him. Lauren particularly loved the journey that a story could take you on, how it could shift you to a new way of seeing things and bring forth so much joy. She enjoyed it so much that she began acting and pursued acting as a career for over 20 years.
Naturally we wondered how she went from being a working actor to teaching yoga… Lauren shared that when she was in college she began having crippling anxiety attacks, so severe that it kept her from wanting to be in restaurants or around loud noises. She became overwhelmed by too many people and was triggered a lot of smells, which would make her feel sick or faint. She finally told her mom how crippling her anxiety had become- yet she knew if she went to a doctor, they would just medicate her, which she did not want.
Luckily, her mom gave her sage advice recommending that she go to yoga, revisit her meditation practice and have acupuncture treatments. So, at age 18 Lauren tried her first yoga class, as a means to heal herself. She tells us that she was horrified at first because she was never an athlete, she never really “felt” in her body before -- that as a child actor you spend a lot of time in your head in front of a camera, which was a pretty disembodied way of being. She was scared to go to that first yoga class, but found it to be wonderful, seeing all the different body types and various types of people of all ages in the room. She walked away from that class not necessarily in love with yoga, yet she felt better. She said that on that day she met one of her biggest challenges as well as one of her greatest gifts.
Lauren kept going back and found that it sparked a light on an inner dialog she’d been having, confronting the story she’d been telling herself; that she wasn’t flexible, wasn’t athletic, wasn’t strong enough, and it brought her face-to-face with the harshness of that inner dialog and how truly unkind she was to herself. It showed her how wrong that old story was and what she was actually capable of.
Several years into her practice a teacher said to her “you know Lauren, you want all the benefits of the practice but don’t want to do the work to get there”. This was devastating to her but she felt that he was right. She stopped practicing for a year and when she finally decided to go back, she started at the very beginning, relearning the practice from the foundation up. A year later she did her teacher training.
Initially, her intention wasn’t to be a yoga teacher but rather to deepen her own practice, she was still working in the entertainment industry, acting on TV shows and movies and running a nonprofit theater company. At the end of the training she had to teach a full class and through that realized you could take someone on a journey through teaching the same way you could telling a story. How you sequenced the poses, the philosophy you shared, subtle anatomy, the themes and intentions could be a journey for people, possible of taking them from one state of being to another. She knew right then that teaching would be in her life forever.
It took time but she laid the foundation and eventually made the shift. Lauren now lives a life embodying the philosophy of yoga. She teaches regular in-studio classes, hosts retreats and teacher trainings around the world, produces an extensive offering of online courses and content with her husband via their online platform Inner Dimension Media, which began eight years ago with The Ultimate Yoga DVD set, a 108 day program that her husband created and she co-produced.
Interestingly and beautifully this program inspired a broad audience; they received letters from all over the world, from families sharing it together, couples rediscovering each other through practicing together, even one who was on the brink of suicide and found solace in the program, and it was even made available to people in prison.
Lauren tells a beautiful story of how The Ultimate Yogi lead her and Travis to teach yoga in a maximum-security prison in Maine. In this prison’s solitary confinement, the prisoners have access to preprogrammed content via computer screens that are inserted into the walls of the cells and covered with plexiglass. Using a mouse the prisoners can choose from a variety of programs, one of which is The Ultimate Yogi.
One of the men, who was considered to be the very worst prisoner in the facility, had been put into solitary confinement. Lauren expresses what a heinous thing it is to leave people in a windowless cell for 23 hours a day, seven days a week. When this particular prisoner arrived in solitary confinement, he was totally without hope, trying to kill himself by swallowing razor blades. Luckily, he was saved and once recovered, was released from the hospital only to be returned to solitary confinement. It was then that he noticed the computer screen and started doing the yoga program provided there. It transformed him and saved his life. When it was time for him to be released from solitary confinement, he begged to stay because he wouldn’t have access to the yoga programming. They only got him out by giving him the DVDs and a way to play them. He began to participate in a prison yoga program and was asked if he could request any yoga teacher who would it be? He said Lauren and Travis. And of course, they were happy to oblige.
This is a beautiful story of transformation and gives you hint into the devotion to service that Lauren brings to the world.
Each class that Lauren teaches is an opportunity to tune into yourself, to be uplifted and to discover your own transformation. You can find Lauren on her website, on Inner Dimension Media and if you live in Los Angeles, teaching in person classes at the Yoga Collective in Venice.