Fitness Magazine

Enlighten Up: Interview with Beth Gibbs About Her New Book

By Ninazolotow @Yoga4HealthyAge
by NinaEnlighten Up: Interview with Beth Gibbs About Her New BookI'm very proud to announce that Beth Gibbs has a new book Enlighten Up! that has just been released. Today I wanted to give Beth the opportunity to tell you all a bit about her new book—about why she wrote it, what its basic message is, and what she hopes her readers will learn by learning it—as well as something about herself and her many years of living her yoga.Nina: For those who don’t know much about you, can you start by telling us a bit about yourself and your yoga background and experience?Beth: My yoga journey began six months after the birth of my son. I was on maternity leave and feeling overwhelmed by new mom responsibilities, so I started looking for help in one of my favorite places, a brick and mortar bookstore. I scoured the self-help sections, picked up a yoga book by the late Richard Hittleman, took it home and started to practice on my own in true introvert fashion until a friend encouraged me to try a group class. I did and was hooked. A few years later, I discovered Integrative Yoga Therapy. I liked the philosophy, signed up, took the training, and began teaching. A few years later I was invited to join the faculty. Now I have over twenty years experience teaching and mentoring hundreds of yoga students, teachers, and therapists-in-training from all over the world to implement the five-layer model of self-awareness (the koshas) in their professional work and personal practice. Nina: What is the basic focus of this book and how did you choose the topic?Beth: Enlighten Up! describes the five layer of self-awareness, which are: 
  • Physical (body and environment)
  • Breath/energy
  • Mind/emotions
  • Intuitive wisdom (the witness)
  • Bliss (a connection to something larger than self)
The book discusses ways of working with them to gain 360 degrees of self-awareness. It’s written with humor, stories, tips, and simple yoga practices. And the fact that Joseph Le Page, founder of Integrative Yoga Therapy, wrote the foreword is icing on the cake. During the early years of my yoga training, my understanding of the koshas was superficial. I could talk about the model but it took months before I could embody it in my life and my teaching. I looked for books on the koshas but found only one by B. K. S. Iyengar. Light on Life: The Yoga Journey to Wholeness, Inner Peace, and Ultimate Freedom is written in the traditional philosophy and terminology of yoga. I wanted a book that presented the koshas in a contemporary, practical format to share with my students so I decided to write one. My hope is that Enlighten Up! helps students in yoga training programs embody the model faster than I did. The koshas are a useful tool enabling us to see both the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ of our reality—to see life as it is, not hidden behind a veil of wishful thinking or denial. When that happens we can consciously choose to make changes, remain unchanged with full awareness of the consequences, or find acceptance and peace of mind if change is not possible. Nina: Can you give us an example of how working with the koshas helped you and/or your students in real life?Beth: After an emergency hysterectomy, I experienced chronic pain in my low back and right hip. When I explored my physical layer, I noticed that the pain tended to flare up when I was feeling stressed. I saw an integrative positional (and yoga) therapist who gave me one reason for the pain. He said my pelvis was chronically misaligned in three ways: it is rotated, one hip is functionally higher than the other, and I have a deep lumbar curve. Next I saw an orthopedic specialist and got an additional diagnosis of spondylolisthesis. Now I knew why my hip and low back were handy targets for stress to manifest physically.\Then I wondered if there were second and third layer issues to deal with. There were. I was anxious, irritable, stressed out, exhausted, and unhappy with my job, my second marriage, and the length of my self-imposed to-do lists. I called on my fourth layer (intuitive wisdom, the witness) to trace my stress mess to its source and realized that stress, irritation, and pain occurred in situations that left me feeling stuck, blocked, and trapped. Digging deeper I found fear, fear of being powerless to control what I found myself facing. That could be as simple as sitting in stalled traffic or as complicated as navigating a difficult relationship. Could I unearth an unhelpful thought, emotion, or belief that was feeding the fear, sucking my energy, and keeping me stuck, blocked, and trapped? Yes, I could. I finally traced it back to a fear of calling attention to myself, embarrassing myself in public, being rude, or making a scene. I recognized that as a lamentable hangover from my good girl training as a Black woman raised to be a ‘credit to the race.’That was a blissful wake-up call. Now that I understand the energetic connection between feeling stuck, my physical pain, and its emotional source, I make one of three conscious choices in any stressful situation. I change the situation, change myself, or leave. Nina: What kind of audience were you writing for? Is having a background in yoga necessary to understand the book? Or can an absolute beginner benefit from this book as well?Beth: This quote from Baxter Bell’s endorsement of the book answers that question. He wrote, “Whether you are new to yoga-based lifestyle ‘medicine’ or a longtime practitioner, you will be engaged, entertained, and, dare I say it, enlightened up!” The publisher put his quote on the book’s front cover.Nina: I understand that the book actually takes the reader on a nine-step journey. Can you tell us a bit about that? Beth: Each of the nine steps provides a way to approach self-awareness, layer by layer:Step 1: Physical: Body and Environment
  • Become aware.
  • Learn to pay attention to your physical body and how it moves and feels.
  • Pay attention to your personal environment.
  • Do what you can to help the planet.

Step 2: Breath/Energy
  • Become aware of your breathing and your energy states.
Steps 3 & 4: Mind/Emotions
  • Identify your thoughts and feelings.
  • Learn to observe and label them.
  • Explore your beliefs.
Steps 5 & 6: Intuitive Wisdom—the Witness
  • Turn the mind back on itself to uncover the source and intention of your beliefs through conscious relaxation and meditation.
  • Take skillful action based on any new awareness.

Steps 7, 8 & 9: Bliss
  • Understand what brings you joy in life.
  • Uncover and soften any unhelpful attachments or desire to control the outcomes of your actions.
  • Live your deepest values through your actions.
Nina: What is the basic message you hope readers will take away from the book? 
Beth: I love good quotes. Here’s one that sums up the core message of the book: “Life is like a game of cards. The hand that is dealt you represents determinism; the way you play is your own will.” — Jawaharlal NehruBecoming truly self-aware at all levels is how you play your game of cards. It’s the foundation needed to build a balanced life and find clarity, contentment, and resilience in this complicated world we all share. Nina: Is there anything else you’d like to tell our readers about your book?Beth: I’ll share this recent message from a colleague who is reviewing the book. She said: “I wanted to send you a progress report on reviewing your book. I had thought I would scan it quickly, for the gist and write something up. But truthfully I have gotten slowed down by the need to read it thoroughly and carefully, plus making some notes and thinking how I might pass some of this perspective, and wisdom on to my own students. In other words, it is too good, and useful, to do a quick read.”Enlighten Up! is available from my website. Happy reading!Subscribe to Yoga for Healthy Aging by Email ° Follow Yoga for Healthy Aging on Facebook ° To order Yoga for Healthy Aging: A Guide to Lifelong Well-Being, go to Amazon, Shambhala, Indie Bound or your local bookstore.

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