In a country where commodification is king, Seane Corn is arguably America’s most recognizable yogi. Yet behind all the attention is a fierce practitioner who models the necessity of continual self-inquiry and her six non-negotiables: yoga, meditation, prayer, a good (for her) diet, therapy and sleep.
Seane, who is coming to Riverstone Yoga to do a 5-day training September 8-12th, talks to YogaCity NYC’s Lila Galindo about how her Jersey roots have helped her withstand the spotlight and stay on message.
Lila Galindo:How do you answer those critics who see you as a yoga rock star and don’t take you seriously?
Seane Corn: It doesn’t faze me. And honestly, I don’t get that much anymore. Maybe because I’m pushing fifty and my ingenue days are behind me. I also don’t attach myself to all that stuff.
But the reason that I created Off the Mat and Into the World was really in answer to the celebrity. There was a moment when I knew I was going to have opportunities. This was back in the 90s. The first time that I was on the Today Show, I was six months out of my first teacher training. I didn’t know jack about yoga… and shortly after that, I got my very first cover and after that, I was like the media’s go-to girl. And very quickly I got it - why I was getting asked to do things and why someone else who had better credentials than me, wasn’t.
SC: I was a very sellable presence. I was white, I was skinny, I was pretty. And I could do yoga.
But I was also a really serious yoga student and I knew that I had an incredible opportunity and that if I made this about myself then that’s all that this would ever be. And it wouldn’t be sustainable.
LG:So how have you sustained it all these years?
SC: I didn’t come up with this all on my own. I had people around me saying, “Pay attention and use your platform well. Use the media in a way that empowers others, redirecting attention off yourself and onto things that are actually quite critical in the world.” And that became my commitment.
LG:How does the Tarrytown workshop next week show the evolution of this commitment as a yogi and a teacher?
SC: I’m a good student, and I take my studentship more seriously than I do my teaching. As long as my own experience of studentship keeps getting informed that’s ultimately going to influence the way that I teach.
For years, my practice was more about the individual, meaning my health, my body, even my spirituality. As I’ve matured in my practice, it seems more about the collective.
My classes have always been empowering, I hope, but at this point, they’re activating. They’re encouraging people to want to take that next step off of their mat and find a way to be more involved. Change on a global level can only happen if we’re creating change on an internal level.
LG: So what’s the change?
SC: There really is only one revolution and that starts within.
I have to recognize the places where I’m disconnected, where I lie to myself or another being, where I’m in otherness. When I can identify that and work diligently to heal those rifts - without judgment, just recognizing in myself my humanity - then I’m actually now part of the solution.
Yoga has to be in every single aspect of your experience, whether it’s in your relationships or your car-driving or your activism.
LG: What do you want for participants to take away from this training?
SC: It takes a lot of courage to speak your truth, to commit to your faith, but to make it general enough so that everyone in the room still feels included and supported on their own creative journey. So I appreciate it when someone wants to take that risk. I hope that the students in the room find their art and their voice.
LG:Where does your activist strain come from?
SC: Maybe it’s because I’m Jewish and part of my culture is to want to serve.
I was born with a sense of injustice: that there was injustice in the world and I was obligated to walk toward it, understand it and transform it.
LG:How do you think that being a Jersey girl has set you up for this life that you’re living, for what you do?
SC: I come from such a blue-collar background that all this is so funny to me.
And if I ever bought into this projection that often gets put on me, there’d be a friend or a family member who would literally smack me upside the head and remind me that it’s not about me but about the service I provide. I rely on that.