Open Up And Say Ah

June 24, 2010 · By Sloane Davidson, Founder and CEO, Hello Neighbor

Every Thursday this summer, come back to The Causemopolitan to read a guest post that will inspire you right up out of your seat to get involved and give back in a special series called Cause It’s Summer! Featured bloggers will be sharing their own reflections and stories, tips and resources, and perspective on philanthropy, social entrepreneurship and their own cause-filled life. This week welcome Joey Soto, and her courageous transition from Water Resources Consultant to Teacher of Yoga.

On the 43rd floor in Downtown Los Angeles, I trouble-shoot multi-million dollar water projects with a talented team of engineers at a corporate civil engineering firm. Although I’ve served as a water resources consultant managing Southern California’s water issues over the last decade, I had recently found myself longing for more. There was something inside of me that was trying to come forth; it was a piece of me that I had not yet explored.

At the age of 29, I was somewhat familiar with this feeling; the inkling to grow, give, foster. I knew that volunteering was a great way to discover a little more about myself, as I had experienced through philanthropic efforts with Answer With Action, Step Up Women’s Network, and Thirst Project. My career as a water resources consultant gave me much to be proud of; I had secured over $25 million in funding for water projects and managed the implementation of $500 million under the Proposition O water quality bond measure for the City of Los Angeles. I was implementing innovative engineering projects to protect our natural environment and public health. However, my life was off balance, my passion was fading and I was searching for that something else.

In January 2010, there was a feeling in the air. It was the start of a new year and I was at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market when I received a flyer about a new eco-friendly yoga studio opening up just down the street from my apartment. YogaCo was a new donation-run studio in Santa Monica offering a Yoga Teacher Training program. After 10 years of practicing yoga, I wondered if there was more to yoga aside from all those postures. I decided to say yes to this new opportunity and I enrolled in the course.

Tamal Dodge led me through 3 months of intense study of Yoga Asanas (postures), Anatomy, and Yoga Philosophy. An amazing group of 25 individuals embarked on this journey with me. Over the course, I felt that inkling inside grow and expand until it took over my entire body and it became me – or rather I became it. I was full of wanderlust and enthusiasm. It was as if I became a child again, curious about life, people, energy, beliefs. I let go of fear, societal expectations, and insecurities and what I found was more profound than any sweat-dripping, back-bending, arm-twisting, vinyasa flow sequence; I found myself.

It was at this moment that I opened up and said, “Ah!” and I knew that I was here to share this feeling of self-realization with others. It’s a process of letting go and reconnecting with who you truly are. I realized that the best way to change the world is not by mimicking Gandhi or Mother Theresa, but by simply being you. In our purest form, free of the world’s attachments, we are all perfect. After the training, I immediately reduced my corporate hours and started teaching Vinyasa Flow Classes at YogaCo, teen yoga at Crossroads, and private sessions throughout Los Angeles.

Teaching yoga has been an incredible experience. I watch my students blossom into being during every class. It has truly brought a balance into my life, letting me flow from the high rise to the yoga mat with ease. I am here to help others achieve this balance of pure joy and happiness, and I plan to do it one “Ah!” at a time.

Joey Soto has served as a pioneer in water issues over the last decade through her work as a water resources consultant and community philanthropist. With her technical expertise and visionary perspective, she is known for bridging the communication gap between engineers and scientists with members of the community and public officials. She has voluntarily conducted presentations for community groups and served on panels related to water issues and social change. Most recently, Joey has assisted the ThirstProject with raising awareness of global water issues for schools across the U.S.

Joey has been a yoga practitioner for the past ten years and recently completed the 200-hour Yoga Alliance Teacher Training at YogaCo, a new eco-friendly studio located in Santa Monica, CA. Joey teaches Vinyasa flow – all levels classes to public and private clients. Ms. Soto currently teaches at YogaCo, volunteers at Crossroads High School, and teaches Private Classes throughout Los Angeles. You can find her on Twitter via @JSotoH20.