Spiritually Fly

Tami Simon: Welcome to Insights at the Edge, produced by Sounds True. My name is Tami Simon, I’m the founder of Sounds True. I’d love to take a moment to introduce you to the new Sounds True Foundation. The Sounds True Foundation is dedicated to creating a wiser and kinder world by making transformational education widely available. We want everyone to have access to transformational tools, such as mindfulness, emotional awareness, and self-compassion, regardless of financial, social, or physical challenges. The Sounds True Foundation is a nonprofit dedicated to providing these transformational tools to communities in need, including at risk youth, prisoners, veterans, and those in developing countries. If you’d like to learn more or feel inspired to become a supporter, please visit soundstruefoundation.org.

You’re listening to Insights at the Edge, today my guest is Faith Hunter. Faith is a yoga and meditation teacher with over 20 years of experience. She is the founder, CEO of Embrace Yoga DC, as well as the creator of Embrace OM. Faith is also the architect of Spiritually Fly, a lifestyle philosophy that celebrates every moment of life, and with Sounds True, she’s written a new book, it’s called Spiritually Fly: Wisdom, Meditations, and Yoga to Elevate Your Soul. In this conversation, we learn more about Faith’s challenges in her own upbringing, and how she came to really trust herself to find her own, what she calls, golden glitter, through bringing various spiritual practices together into a method that brings forward spiritual flyhood. Take a listen. Here’s Faith Hunter.

Faith, right at the beginning of your new book, Spiritually Fly, right in the opening dedication, you write a dedication and here it is, “To my five-year-old self, I finally see you.” I wanted to know who is it that you’re seeing, and why was it important for you to open your new book Spiritually Fly with that dedication?


Faith Hunter: Oh my goodness, Tami, you’ve asked the first question and I’m tearing up right now. It was like, at age five, was this tipping point in my life. Growing up, my parents had a housekeeper that took care of us as little kids. At age five, I actually went to school full time, and that was that moment where I started to feel these levels of insecurity and inadequacy, and I started to actually go into a cave. Prior to that I was much more vibrant, much more free, much more confident. Right at that age, I started this spiral.


TS: So when you say that you see that five year old, why was it important for you to dedicate the book to her?


FH: Because I felt like she really wanted to shine and had this deep desire to make a mark, and was lost. So by me acknowledging her was like, grabbing her, hugging her, and pulling her along on this new path that I’m in, in this new journey, and elevating her spirit.


TS: Now, you write about some of your early biography in Spiritually Fly, and you write about how you grew up as a young Black girl in rural Louisiana. I want to know more and have our listeners know as a way to really get to meet you, what that journey was for you from that five year old into overtime, you got introduced to yoga and then in a period of more time you became the Spiritually Fly teacher. Give us a sense of that journey.


FH: Yeah. It’s a pretty rocky and then it’s also a really, really beautiful one. Starting from that five-year-old self, and that young girl, growing up in Louisiana exposed—because I grew up in a college town and so exposed to people from all over the world. Actually, in our parish in Louisiana, there were two major universities, so this is North Louisiana, and did a lot of ballet, gymnastics, dance, all of those, piano lessons, like my mother definitely put me in all the things. I always say that she was living vicariously through me, which is fine, our parents do their best.

Then probably like around the age of 10 to 12, my ability to fully understand, comprehend, and learn efficiently, just somehow just didn’t match up. But everything else made sense. If I play the instrument, I could actually read music, I can listen to timing and know really efficiently when I needed to come in as a dancer, and I was really advanced. I was actually around age 11 or 12, my dance teacher was like, “I’m considering putting Faith on point.” That was something that really more like 13, 14 year old girls did, but I was so skilled. However, in school, it was constant hard work for me, was a struggle.

Then somewhere around high school, I started to feel even more incompetent in school, and so I didn’t have a lot of friends, I had a very select few, I like to call my friends. We were the artsy weird crew, and hung out with them. Then I met a teacher, my math teacher, and she somehow started to make things click technically for me. I actually became really great at algebra, even some of my fellow students were like, “What is this? Who is this chick?” Having that teacher, just spill in this level of confidence in me, just helped me start to see myself a little bit differently in a very educational environment.

Then from there, went on to college, I still continued to dance. A lot of people don’t know this—I did the beauty pageant circuit in Louisiana for a really long time. Odd, but I did it, I did the Miss America system. It was great. It was fun, because it was that opportunity for me to share my talents and my interest. But here’s the deal, in between all of that, my brothers were diagnosed in the ’80s with HIV, and so from like age—I think I was probably about nine or 10 years old, when my brothers were diagnosed, and then throughout my high school, college years, it was a family secret. So I think that probably also had a great impact on my ability to learn.

Then when I entered college, I met another person, that was the director of an HIV/AIDS program, and she just inspired me, almost like was the first person that inspired me to tell my story. My story was that, this is this thing that happened that was so traumatic to our family. Then all of a sudden, I’m in graduate school, and my older brother calls me on the phone, because I was in graduate school in New Orleans at Loyola. My older brother calls me on the phone and says, “Come and pick me up at the airport.” And I’m like, “What are you talking about?” I go to pick him up at the New Orleans airport, he has no bags, he has a backpack, and he goes, “I need to go to the hospital right now.”

He knew that he was dying, and so over the course of about a year and a half as he was struggling with his HIV status and his complications related to AIDS, I started practicing yoga. One of my friends said, “Let’s go do yoga.” And I jumped right in, and I always like to share that it gave me a time to move my body in a very different way. That meant that it was like hitting some other energy centers that I’ve never hit before. I had these moments of stillness, because I was constantly going—I’m in grad school, I’m working, I’m dealing with family. Then the other part of it that I feel like was so crucial is that it gave me an opportunity to cry. I cried for weeks, every time I showed up to that class, and it was this magnificent release.

From that moment, I was like, “This thing has to be a part of my life. I don’t know how, I don’t care where, but I need to be on the mat, I need to breathe, I need to meditate.” That’s what happened in the late ’90s, and since then it’s been not only just something that’s carried me through my life, but now it’s my career. It’s what I do, it is my life.


TS: I want to talk more about this diagnosis that both of your brothers received. So you mentioned in Spiritually Fly, that there’s a history of hemophilia in your family. So how did that happen, and were you nervous for yourself as well about your own possibility that you are also hemophiliac?


FH: Yes. Actually, early on, I remember I was definitely younger than the age of 10, and I was tested, of course, for any traits. So I do have the trait to carry hemophilia. However, I do not have any symptoms related to that. However, when both of my brothers were diagnosed, our entire family was tested. Because if you remember in the ’80s, nobody knew, I mean, people thought that you can touch a cup or drink from the same cup or use the same utensils. So the doctors decided to test the entire family. And of course, that was nerve racking because we had to wait like almost two to three weeks to get our diagnosis.

Then once we were identified as being negative, then it was still this constant scare because my brothers still did their factor infusions at the house. And so there were always needles, there was always blood—that was always a presence in our home.


TS: Now, I can definitely appreciate you going to your first yoga class and crying, and being in yoga classes and crying. I get that, the loss of a family member like that, and how brutal that is. What started dawning in you, where you thought, “Oh, this is actually a path of empowerment for me, I’m going to become a teacher in something”—like the way you teach yoga, which we’re going to get to in just a moment.


FH: Yes. Actually, it was—oh my god—almost 10 plus, maybe more years later, after practicing and actually being a student. I ended up leaving a job that I had in D.C. which was in the HIV/AIDS arena, and I had made a decision that I was burnt out. Because I’d spent years working in that field, and decided to move to New York. When I moved to New York, I was just all over the place taking yoga. I was like, “Oh my god, I’ve never seen so many yoga studios.” And just started practicing.

Then I walked into this place, Laughing Lotus Yoga Center, and I was like, “Oh my god, I am so at home right here. It’s extremely diverse, one, it’s extremely accepting. The music is insane.” I mean, they’re playing music like hip hop and reggae music and stuff that I listened to at home, and they’re doing yoga to it. Right? It’s not all about the sacred sound that we’re normally hearing in the chants and stuff. I’m moving my body in a very different way. I spent probably like 8 to 10 months practicing there, and somewhere on the board, the announcement board that said yoga teacher training. I was like, “What is that about? OK, I’m just going to go to the info center or info session and see exactly what that’s about.”

Walked into the info session. Again, the room is filled with so many different types of people from all walks of life. I was like, “OK, I’m going to do this. I don’t know what this is about, but I know for a fact, this practice is keeping me whole, and I’m constantly sharing it with my friends and family anyway.” That’s what I did. I enrolled in yoga teacher training, just off of seeing something that was almost like a divine ping.


TS: And the development of your Spiritually Fly approach, because it seems like yoga is a part of it and Kundalini Yoga, you’re also bringing in some of what you refer to as your African roots and practices from Africa. You’re bringing in a bit of your own upbringing within the Baptist Church. I mean, you put a lot into the Spiritually Fly method. So, help our listeners understand that.


FH: I’ve liked how you described that. That was really good. But yeah, it really is this eclectic blend of, I feel what has kept me whole and balanced specifically over the past 10 years. So of course, I received my yoga teacher training, I did meditation trainings, I did Bhakti trainings, that were very basic in nature, and I’ve studied Kundalini for a really long time and went through that training. But then I realized that my teaching wasn’t fully reflecting what I practice at home. What I’m practicing at home are the spiritual ancient rituals that are Yoruba in nature.

There are mornings where—Sunday mornings when I do need to put on Aretha’s gospel state album, and listen to that, and that drives my yoga practice. So I said, “You know what? I have to figure out a way to bring all of this together.” From the time that I started calling my practices Spiritually Fly, I think that was probably 2007, 2008, sometime around that time to now, they are so drastically different, because as I evolve spiritually, as I evolve emotionally as a human being, because I really think that my practices drive the emotional and spiritual, or kind of go along the emotional and spiritual lane, my practices that I’m sharing are a pure reflection of what I do at home. 

So, I have my Oshun statue at my altar right next to the Bible that my older brother had as a teenager. So it’s like, if my life is blending all of that, why not share this with other people? Because maybe somebody is going to pick up one thing, and that’s going to support them.


TS: Yes. I want to talk to you a little bit more about that, Faith, because I think sometimes when people get exposed to a specific teaching lineage, and they get trained in that, they are nervous that they’re going to dilute it or pollute it or create confusion or something like that. So they only bring their singular part of that lineage to their students. And as you said, they’ve got all these other things they’re actually doing, like 80% of the time, and they’re only teaching the 20%. They’re trying to be true to the person they learned from. So, how did you get over that concern that somehow you were breaking all these boundaries down?


FH: I’m constantly battling for the fact that I’m breaking things apart. But at the same time, I think that I found the courage to step out and share what I’m practicing at home. I found that courage from my students, because anytime that I would say teach a very Hatha or Vinyasa experience, and one day I throw in a Kundalini Kriyā or Kundalini meditation at the end, that’s what they’re like, “Oh my god, whatever we did at that moment in time, supported me.” Or if I decide to bring in instead of bringing in a deity story that is Vedic in nature, or I link a Vedic philosophy point to a very Yoruba, then what happens is that people start to see the commonalities that we are across culture spiritually.

And then again, that’s a moment where someone will go, “Oh my god, I do this undercover thing with the Arushas but I’m so glad that you talked about it today, because that made me feel so safe in this space for the first time because I normally don’t go to yoga class.” I literally had a student say that. So, hearing those messages from them, just empowered me.


TS: Do you have any guidelines for people in their own spiritual life about how they can, I’ll just say it, mix and match and not get confused?


FH: Yes, I think the key is—and I think I use this all the time, the key that I use are the chakras. That’s like my foundation, and it doesn’t matter if you are teaching the chakra system or you’re engaging in it yourself, if you understand those seven chakras and the aura, and you design your spiritual practices, and making sure that when you start your rituals, you are grounding, you’re rooting down, and then you can invoke whatever techniques that you want that are going to support you, maybe the grounding is just your essential oils. Right? And then you move into this much more fluidity action and then carry your way all the way up through the chakras.

But what is happening is that you’re tapping into all seven of those energy centers, and using whatever tools, and I think I mentioned that a lot in the book, it’s like these practices are the tools. So using whatever tools that are going to enhance your life.


TS: OK, and this phrase, Spiritually Fly, what does it mean?


FH: Spiritually Fly really means stepping out of your comfort zone, designing your spiritual practice in a way that’s authentic to you, and using whatever tools that are going to support your personal evolution, that’s going to aid you in any transformation, that’s going to help you shed any stuff that’s keeping you from being your greatest self. If you’re doing that every single day, even if it’s like pausing to breathe and honor the Earth, or you are spending two hours moving through all the things, that’s going to give you that Spiritually Fly life.


TS: Well, I have to say, Faith, I think you’re Spiritually Fly, and having this conversation with you makes me want to just fly right with you. What I want to know and believe it or not, I’m going to bring up that five year old one more time here. I want to know, how did you transform the—you said she went into her cave. What practices did you find in your life enabled you to create the transformation that gave you the courage? Because you have to have a lot of a sense of inner worth to go out and combine all these things and teach them and be like, “Well, no one told me I had permission, but I did it.” What was your story of transformation to get to that point? What worked for you?


FH: You know what? It also happened around a time where I started identifying how I can blend some of the tools, and I wasn’t doing this in my teaching, but I was doing this in my own personal life. My father passed in 2011, and when he passed, that was the time period—not 2011, 2001. That was the time period that I was starting to really dive into the practice of yoga. I wasn’t quite a teacher yet, but I was just diving in. But that’s when I started really focusing on therapy. I think going through therapy was my first hit of like, “I’m doing therapy with a therapist, and then I’m also practicing yoga at the same time.”

I started, in that moment, to feel a little bit more confident. Then from there, as I’m working my way through becoming a yoga teacher and moving through my life again, right, I left New York, moved out to D.C., went through a crazy traumatic relationship that was really toxic and abusive at the same time. I went into the cave. I went into my cave again. At that point in time, that cave was about healing Faith. So, I was still seeing a therapist, I was doing all the work in terms of my journaling, my meditation, my breath work, my asana practice, and my mantra was chanting like crazy. I think my neighbors thought I was going crazy, chanting all the time. I’m like Om Namah Shivaya just like walking into the elevator.

But yes, so it was like I’m blending all of those things, and I think that having that spiritual support, because I approached that cave as my sanctuary, as my temple for healing. When I came out of that, I was like, “Oh my god, there’s something different about what I have to share.”


TS: Now, in the very beginning of Spiritually Fly, you introduce this notion from Vedic philosophy of samskaras, that all of us have these, you could call them karmic tendencies, would be the language, I guess that’s often traditionally described, and that there’s a Spiritually Fly approach to working with our samskaras, such that we can release the unhealthy ones. I wanted to understand more about that, first of all, a deeper understanding of samskaras, and then how do we each release them.


FH: Yes. Basically, I’ll start with the samskaras, and then talk about how we can move and shift through them. But we are born with a certain number or layers of samskaras, and those are imprints that are laid onto our soul, onto our being, the moment that our soul drops into that physical form, even when we are in our mother’s womb, those samskaras that are passed down generationally, ancestrally are in us already. Then we come into the world, from our experiences, and people often say, “Well, I had a really great upbringing at home and all the things were perfect.”

And they don’t realize that just walking to the grocery store with your mom or holding her hand while you’re pushing the cart, you’re absorbing other impressions. Right? So you are absorbing these moments of positivity and negativity, and they’re shaping who you are. But how do we address them? Because if we are getting them from all places, from media, from other adults, right, as children, and then we grow up, we’re carrying the same levels of heaviness. We’re adults now, and then we’re creating our own samskaras based upon the negative behavior.

However, at some point in time, we may go, “How do I get better?” And the way that we get better is by revisiting that five-year-old self, reconnecting with who that person is, and doing that through the—what I feel is the most powerful is through the breath work, and through the meditation. The asana practice just gets me going, gets me ready and open to receive that. Then, not spiritually bypassing those moments when the anger starts to bubble up, or the fear starts to bubble up, feel it, address it, see it. Say hello, be kind to it, and compassionate to it. Let it move through the physical body. Allow yourself to cry, allow yourself to scream. Then do the work to reset and re-pattern the pain, and then make a conscious commitment to create new imprints, new samskaras that are going to aid you in living much more fully.


TS: Now, you mentioned that you went through a very difficult, toxic relationship passage, and I’m wondering if we could use that as an example, and you could maybe describe the samskaras that you think were in you that brought you into a relationship like that, and then how you were able to clear that out. You talk about when we’re creating new patterns, you call them soul prints, that we can bring in these new soul prints. So maybe you could talk about that in terms of relationships, I think that’s a theme many of us can relate to.


FH: Yes. Definitely. I was in a really difficult relationship. I dated someone for probably like about seven years, we were living together, of course. In that time, I think what brought me into that relationship was this deep desire to be seen and to be heard. When the relationship started, my partner at the time, he was all about my career and really supporting me in the practice of yoga. However, the downside to that relationship was that he was extremely controlling. The way that I believe that I made my way into that relationship was the fact that growing up my mother was very controlling.

That was something that was very familiar. Having someone guide my life. I mean, I’m going to tell the story really, really quickly, so that everyone also understands. Just about a week and a half ago, I needed to renew my passport. I was like, “I don’t think I’ve ever renewed a passport.” I was like, “Oh my god, I got my first passport when I was really young. My parents handled it. I got another one when I was in college, my parents handled that. When I got another one 10 years ago, and 10 years ago, I was dating this guy, and I realized that he renewed my passport.”

So I’m like, “Oh my god.” Throughout my life, just that simple aspect of having someone else control some of the basic aspects of your life, really will impact who you select as a partner, because you are looking for, unfortunately, those places of comfort, even though they are not healthy. So, the way that I actually worked through it, is that when him and I broke up, one, I had to like rip myself from the situation because it started to become slightly abusive. So I had to rip myself away from the situation.

When I got my own apartment, didn’t tell him I was getting the apartment. I mean, I did all those kinds of things, moved into my place, and that’s when I went into the cave. That’s when I focused on one of the things that I have in the book. That’s what I focused on the love notes, and I think my love notes were one of the major tools that helped me start to get it going, because I had to write down but I am powerful, I am strong, I am wise, I am smart, I am loving I’m kind. So, seeing those every day, those were the positive soul prints. I think I probably had them on my refrigerator for probably about a two or three year period to the point that one of my friend’s mom came over, she goes, “I think I need to start doing this.”

Yes, it was like those simple steps, when we recognize that there is something that is holding us in a bad situation, really giving ourselves time to examine our childhood, and see if that pattern or that behavior has been reflected or has creeped up in our adult relationships, and if it has, and it’s causing you discomfort, it’s causing you harm, it’s causing you to move into these unhealthy habits, then that’s when you need to pull back, yank it, literally yank the band aid off, and then start the healing. Let the wound get some air, and then you start caring for it.


TS: You mentioned this practice of, is it love notes?


FH: Love notes.


TS: Do you still write love notes and put them on your refrigerator?


FH: I don’t put them on my refrigerator, but sometimes I put them by my nightstand. Sometimes I put them on my bathroom wall or my bathroom mirror, and actually right now I have a love note statement on my cell phone. So, yes.


TS: What is your love note state on cell phone?


FH: I’m pulling it up right now. Love and money, abundance is my birthright. Yes. So that’s the statement right now, because sometimes I myself don’t feel that I am a value, and the one thing about energetics is that love and money run in the same path. They run in the same energetic lane, and therefore that is that place of abundance. So, allowing myself to remember that I deserve the abundance, I deserve the love. Yes.


TS: Now, let’s say somebody writes a love note to themselves on their phone or on their refrigerator, or wherever the heck they put it, and they see it and they go, “Yes, I don’t know, only 50% of me believes it, but Faith suggested I write a love note. I wrote it, I put it there. But OK, I don’t really believe it, whatever it is.


FH: Yes. It takes time. Trust me, I think that’s probably why the first set was actually on my refrigerator and all the different places for two years, because it took a long time for me to get it in my body, it becomes a habit. In the practice of Kundalini, they recommend that you do 100 and—no 1008 days, that’s when you actually seal something in. The 40 days, it’s just creating this tiny little habit, but when you take that 100 or that 1008 days, you have sealed in a brand new pattern, it is what you are going to do, it is who you are. So, you just keep chanting it, you keep repeating it, you keep seeing it, and then at some point in time, it is you.


TS: Now, you mentioned that the breathing is such an important part of the yoga practice for you, even more than the movement that the breathing is so critical and you write in Spiritually Fly, “The breath is my foundation for living authentically.” How is the breath your foundation?


FH: I think about those moments when I am feeling anxious, when I feel like—even today when you—like the first question was about my five-year-old self, and I’m like, “Oh my god, I’m tearing up.” And the thing that brings me back to my center, brings me back to my power, brings me back to my Spiritually Fly alignment is recognizing that, feeling that, knowing where it’s coming from, and the only way I can do that is by pausing and just breathing deep, and then exhale, breathing deep again. Giving myself that opportunity to be in the feelings and the sensations. That’s when it’s really hard.

It’s easy when I’m having a great day and I’m coming to my mat and I’m allowing the breath to be in me. That’s almost like adding icing on the cake. But the foundation is all of those elements and pieces that go into the baking of the cake, and that’s in those probably in those moments where I am going through a hard time. I am struggling and then I can identify even if it’s just a tad bit of anxiety or tad bit of fear to say the breath is going to hold you. All right, which one are we going to use today? Is it as long deep breathing? Do I need to calm down? Do I do need to do left nostril breathing? Because I know for a fact, it’s going to center me.


TS: So let’s say someone’s listening, and their challenge is that they get anxious a lot. What would you recommend in terms of how they work with their breathing to help them when they notice that they’re anxious?


FH: I definitely would recommend long, deep inhales and exhales, and giving themselves time to pause. So not only just taking long, deep inhales when they’re moving frantically, or they’re feeling the sense of anxiety. But stopping, grounding down through the feed, sitting down for a moment, closing their eyes and taking the deep breath. That’s what’s going to help calm them and soothe them. The other breathing technique that I often recommend is Sitali pranayama. So, that’s really great for like cooling, you just breathe through your tongue, you inhale, like you’re creating a little straw with your mouth, and you breathe in and out. That cools some of the sensations that come in.

If you’re unable to curl your tongue, because not everyone can do that. You can just draw the teeth together and sip the air in through the teeth, and so that the tongue still feels this cool sensation.


TS: Now, Faith, towards the middle of the book, Spiritually Fly, you offer a chapter called “Face Your Demons with Compassion and Bravery.” As I was reading the book, I circled the word demons, and I was like, “Why does Faith call these challenges we have inside whatever it might be, why does she call them demons?”


FH: Yes. So, one of the reasons that I call them demons, I think probably, it reminds me of horror flicks. Those little demons, those little monsters that just come out and scare the crap out of you. Right? I’m sitting there and watching them, I’m like, “Oh!” But I keep watching. I keep engaging in the movie, I keep thinking about the demons and what’s their backstory. I think as I was shaping the book, and labeled that the demons, it’s like we have these very challenging moments in our lives that we experience, and then we keep reliving them and feeling them like, “I can’t stop watching that horror flick.”

However, at some point, we realize that it’s not the pain and the suffering that we desire anymore, what we want is to find this aspect of ease and comfort, and we want to be happy. But in order to do that, we have to examine where these demons are coming from, what they’re made of, why are they chasing me so heavily? Then that’s how we move through the challenging situation. So it’s not in the sense of like they’re evil, but they’re just these scary, frightening aspects of our being, they’re part of who we are and we can’t run from them, we have to stand up and face them and see them for all that they are, because they’re going to teach us lessons.


TS: Can you give me a specific example, either from your own life or something you’ve seen as a common demon that yoga students who come to you have to face with compassion and bravery?


FH: I think that the biggest one is fear, and fear is really associated with shame. In my own life, there are different aspects about who I am that I was afraid of being and so I would attach a lot of fear and shame around that. I’ll tell you, one of the aspects that I had around shame, around myself, was my laughter.


TS: That’s strange.


FH: It’s very strange. And part of is like, my laughter is so big, and I experienced it, meaning the shame as a yoga teacher, where I was working for this yoga studio, and the yoga owner came to me one day and she goes, “Faith, your students think that you laugh way too loudly, and too much.” I was like, “You’ve taken away my joy here.” But in that moment, it made me so self-conscious. I was like, “Where do I get this laugh from?” Well, I get this laugh from my mom. My mom’s laugh is like huge and gigantic and loud. So, I had to release the shame around that beautiful expression of life, and realize that my way of teaching and sharing is hopefully helping people experience joy, and my way of expressing joy. And when something is exciting, that I laugh really loudly.

That took me a couple of years as a yoga teacher to like, “Oh my god, I shouldn’t laugh in class. Oh my god.” So it created anxiety and fear of like, “If I laugh too loud, would people be annoyed by it?”


TS: OK. So, someone’s listening, and they have some deep fear, but it has nothing to do with the sound of their laughter, who knows, maybe their fear is about never really doing something useful and helpful and important and noticeable in their life or that they’re never going to really have enough money or that they’re never going to have the partner they want to have, all kinds of fears that people have, what is the Spiritually Fly way to face your demons and work through it?


FH: The Spiritually Fly way of facing your demons is to drop into some really deep breath work. I like to use circular breath to help me get there sometimes. I also like to use Breath of Fire. And anytime I’m engaging those breaths, I allow myself to recall the feeling and the situation that is creating that sense of fear, creating that sense of shame. Just like get in the breath. So again, like the Breath of Fire is that powerful inhale and exhale through the nose, and I’m just—


TS: Can we do it, Faith?


FH: Yes. Yes. Totally. 


TS: Let’s just do it. Let’s do it.


FH: Let’s do it. OK.


TS: Take people through it.


FH: Sure. So, Breath of Fire again, it’s a deep inhale and exhale through the nose. It’s very powerful and forceful, and it’s rhythmic. So, you’re keeping time with it, and it sounds like and feels like you’re pumping something really hard. So let’s give it a try. Just take a deep inhale first, through the nose, exhale out of the nose. And then find your pace and rhythm. And you can do this anywhere from like, 30 seconds to a minute, 3 minutes, and it’s powerful inhale, exhale through the nose. Then at the end, I’ll take a big inhale, I hold the breath, kind of retain it, locking it off, and just feeling all of that heat in that fire start to come up, and then exhale through the nose.

So, the thing that is happening specifically with that particular breath, is that it is purified and cleansing. So I find that regardless of any fears that are starting to bubble up, that powerful breath helps you start to feel it a little deeper, it comes to the top and the energetics of purifying and burning it off, helps you start to release it. So as you’re working with it, powerful inhale, powerful exhale, my mind is focusing on that fear, that sensation, “OK, now I’m going to inhale, I’m going to hold.” And then you say to yourself, “This is no longer part of me, this is no longer serving me.” Whatever words or phrases resonate with you. “I am letting it go.” Release.

Then, it’s not going to work the first time. Let’s be really honest. That’s when you make a commitment to yourself. You make a commitment, that’s the bravery of saying, “I’m going to face this thing until it’s not triggering me in the same way. It’s not pulling me away from my alignment in the same way, and I’m going to make it a consistent practice. So, taking that single breath, attaching it to a fear, and consciously working through it over time, it’ll start to fall off, but you’re facing it. Right? You’re committing to it. That’s a sign of the compassion aspect of saying, “You know what? I’m going to carry myself into this place, and I’m going to work on it.” And then the commitment is going to drive it home.


TS: So, just to clarify, when I’m doing that intense Breath of Fire, that pumping with the breath, I’m bringing my fear, whatever it might be right in, I’m inviting it and I’m willing to experience it, but then when it’s done and I exhale, that’s when the release happens—I let it go, I let it go then. I’m like, “I don’t need you anymore.” Whatever the words are that come up. OK, that’s really helpful. 

Now, one of the things I loved reading in Spiritually Fly, is this notion that as we work through whatever our demons are representing and bringing forward in our life, we come to discover something that you call, I love this, our golden glitter, our golden glitter. Tell me how you came upon that phrase, and what is our golden glitter?


FH: So, I came up with that phrase, because, well, one, the word golden, my grandfather, that’s his first name. His first name is Golden. And the glitter part is the part that is always shining and radiating within us. I do remember as a young girl, my grandfather, he called me Sunshine. He saw something really bright in me, and he rarely ever called me Faith. He always called me Sunshine. As I was writing the book, I was like, “How can I fully express what it feels like when you release some of that fear, or what it feels like when you feel empowered, what it feels like when you finally feel safe in your physical form, right? Because sometimes, our greatest fear is not even feeling comfortable in our own form.

So, when we realize that we’re shining, and we’re radiating, but then the residual is that as we’re shining and radiating, that’s sprinkling into other aspects of our lives, that’s actually touching other people. If you think about glitter, like you sprinkle it, and it is not coming off. I mean, I don’t know if you’ve ever had it on your yoga mat. But you get some glitter on your yoga mat, or you go somewhere and you’re trying clothes that have a little glitter on you like, “Where did that come from?” It sticks. That’s what happens, is that when you start to radiate and shine, your golden glitter is going to stick and touch so many people, meaning your light, your sunshine is going to touch other people, and that’s going to maybe inspire them, that’s going to make them feel whole and comfortable. That may make them feel safe.

A lot of us work behind these computers and looking at screens all day, sometimes your radiance and your golden glitters shines so powerfully that people can even feel it through a computer screen. Part of that is that you’re doing that work for yourself.


TS: Yes. Let’s say you’re having a day and you’re like, “Not a lot of golden glitter happening today. I need to activate my golden glitter for this for whatever it might be.” Maybe it’s a class you’re going to lead or maybe it’s just—you just want to activate your golden glitter. What do you do?


FH: One of my favorite ways, and probably one of the fastest and easiest ways to activate is that I turn on my favorite song, and I dance, like crazy passionately, whatever the rhythm is, I just dance like nobody’s looking. I’m like, “All right, I’m ready for the day, I’m ready for this meeting, I’m ready to go out there and give it my all.” Now what if you can’t dance, right? Sometimes I may be about to teach a class, a yoga class, I’ll put on my headphones and I’ll listen to that song, and I’ll just let that energy start to move through me. So, in that thought, one of the easiest ways I find to activate your golden glitter is sound current. So it permeates our being in such a positive and high vibrational way.


TS: For people who are not familiar with that, what does that mean? How do I turn the sound current on or tune in to the sound current?


FH: Tuning into your own sound current, of course, you can hear yourself breathing in and out. That’s the sound. Hearing your own self speak and talk, that’s your internal sound current. However, everything in the universe carries its own tune and vibration and sound current. So, if there is a song that you resonate with, think about what in that song makes you feel good. Is it the sound of the vocalist’s voice? Is it the drumbeat? Right? Is it the rhythms? Right? So, whatever is bringing you that happiness and joy, that means that you’re tuning in to a sound current that resonates with your sound current, and then from there, you’re creating that magical, cohesive collective sound current.


TS: I have a hypothesis that having a lot of golden glitter pouring out of you requires a certain amount of passing through courageous tests. First of all, I wonder what you think about that. And then secondly, I’d be curious to know for you, what do you think in your life has required the most courage?


FH: Wow, actually, one, I like that theory in our philosophy, because if we aren’t examining all of our challenges and facing them head on, then we’re not going to know what’s on the other side. We need to know the pain sometimes in order to know the joy and the lightness, but I would probably say the courageous moments in my life were definitely saying that my brothers were HIV positive out loud, and having the courage to do that. Then taking that moment to step away from a toxic abusive relationship, and resetting myself completely all over again. I mean, that took a lot of strength, and possibly some of the deepest courage, those two moments in my life.


TS: Now, Faith, in addition to being a yoga teacher and a writer, and a person with a terrific laugh, and an outrageous dancer, you’re a business person.


FH: I am.


TS: You created the first studio in the D.C., Maryland, Virginia area where people of color could be trained by yoga teachers of color. I’d like to know if you were to summarize for me, these are the principles of being a Spiritually Flied business person, what those might be?


FH: Being a Spiritually Flied business person is, one, having the courage to trust yourself and trust your instincts, and really listening to your intuition. There are constantly going to be—regardless of what industry you’re in, there are going to be so many things coming your way, as you serve as the leader or the head of the organization, or even if it’s the leader of your team. Right? Trusting your instincts, trusting your intuition. The other aspect is listening. I make sure that I’m the one guiding the ship, or I am creating some of the aspects of the business, and I’m driving it.

However, I have a team, and so I need to always create space to listen to my team, so that I understand not only what they want to get across and what they want to share, but in the listening, it’s not just listening to what they have to say, it’s also listening through observation, because then I can see also what their greatest gifts, greatest talents, and skills are. Then that lets me know, “You know what? Maybe this person doesn’t need to run this area of the business. Maybe they will be more inspired on this lane.” Then by doing that, I may shift someone and then finally, “Wow, they’re in their golden glitter moment, they’re shining bright.”

The other thing is that, making sure that as a Spiritually Flied business owner that you need to step away, and sometimes release the power. It’s been a struggle for me sometimes to let go of some of the responsibilities, especially when I started out really small, and release the power to others, and I started doing it in small increments by like, “When I go on vacation, I don’t check my email. Or if I’m going to teach a yoga weekend somewhere, then it’s OK to let someone else handle all of the fires that are happening.” That takes a lot of bravery and courage to just say, “I don’t need to handle everything. I just need to be informed.” Right? And trusting my staff that they are going to do exactly what they need to do.


TS: All right, Faith, I’m going to go back for a moment to the way that you’ve put together Spiritually Fly and brought together so many different elements of practices that are important to you. Because when it comes to you drawing on your African roots and African spiritual traditions, I’d love to hear more about a practice that you do, that you integrate, that you could offer people now based on those roots that can be helpful to them on their journey to flyhood.


FH: To flyhood. So, actually one of the things that I do is more of like a ritual. But it does involve coming back to that sound current aspect. I’ve mentioned earlier that I am a true devotee of Oshun. I think I mentioned that earlier.


TS: You did.


FH: OK. And so, Oshun is my goddess of choice, and she holds an altar in my home. So the things that I do is, I light a candle for her every morning. I burn Palo Santo. 


TS: For those of us who have never met her before, we don’t know who she is—


FH: Oh, yeah. OK.


TS: Tell us more. Tell us more.


FH: Yes. Oshun is the goddess of freshwater. As you drink your tap water, your fresh water, your clear fresh water, she’s the goddess of fresh water. What she does is that, the idea is that you come to her, you create an offering and say, “You know what? Oshun, wash away the things that are no longer serving me.” And she comes in with this loving, sweetness, kind devotional energy and supports you in those moments where it is rocky, it is difficult, it is challenging. So, I always tell my students, “Just leave it in the river, Oshun will take care of it.”

And you can even invoke her in the shower, right, anywhere there’s this beautiful wave of water. So, in the mornings, I light a candle for her, I burn Palo Santo, and when I want to make a pure devotion, meaning like something very specific I’m maybe working on, I will have a yellow candle, because yellow is her color, and I’ll create a yellow candle, infuse honey into maybe an oil, or any other sweet things, and I’ll cover myself in it, almost like bathe in this oil, honey ritual, light the candle as that’s burning, and then I will chat her mantra, which I actually include in the book.


TS: Can we hear it?


FH: Yes. Let’s see. Let me get it right [Singing].


TS: Gorgeous.


FH: That’s it. That’s it.


TS: Gorgeous.


FH: So it’s just like calling on her and just asking her to hold me during these difficult times and to bring in the sweetness back into my life.


TS: Now, as we close, Faith, I want to just draw our listeners attention to your book, Spiritually Fly: Wisdom, Meditations, and Yoga to Elevate Your Soul, and I’d love to know from you, you poured yourself into the writing of this book, anybody who picks it up and look through it can tell, it is a huge, creative compendium of so many different approaches, techniques, tips, things you can try. What do you hope will come from the book, Spiritually Fly, this book that you poured yourself into?


FH: My hope in writing it and sharing it with the world is that, even if it’s just one tool, somebody picks up and finds and it changes their life, and just helps them move in a different direction, or make a choice that’s going to greatly impact the rest of their life, then my purpose is served. I really hope that people will walk through the entire book, and move through the practices in the way that I kind of laid it out because it does build, and in that, if they’re following it, the idea is that, when they finish at the end of that 40 day practice, that they’ve created some amazing soul prints, they have these new layers of samskaras that are going to help them in the most difficult, most challenging moments.

And it becomes a natural part of their life, so that when something challenging does happen, they’re like, “Oh, let me go grab this out of my toolbox, my Spiritually Fly toolbox.” This is going to help me because it’s tried and true. I’ve tested it on myself. I’ve done it and I know it’s going to work.


TS: I can tell you, Faith, that your book is going to release a lot of golden glitter into the world for sure. I’ve been talking with Faith Hunter with the beautiful laugh. She’s the author of the new book, Spiritually Fly: Wisdom, Meditations, and Yoga to Elevate Your Soul. Thanks Faith, and thanks everyone, for being with us.


FH: Thank you.


TS: Thank you for listening to Insights at the Edge, you can read a full transcript of today’s interview at soundstrue.com/podcast. If you’re interested, hit the subscribe button in your podcast app, and also if you feel inspired, head to iTunes and leave Insights at the Edge a review. I love getting your feedback, being in connection with you, and learning how we can continue to evolve and improve our program. Working together, I believe we can create a kinder and wiser world. Soundstrue.com: waking up the world. 


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