NOTE: Our dear teacher, Elizabeth Gurumukji passed in Feb of 2016

 

 

About Elizabeth Greathouse, J.D.,LL.M., E-RYT 500

Elizabeth Greathouse aka Gurumukh (a name Yogi Bhajan gave her in 1982) moved to Washington DC from Europe in 2000 to follow her heart. This move, this commitment to change, started a whole new flow of life for her – and this wasn’t the first time.

While a law student Elizabeth started practicing Kundalini Yoga and was immediately attracted to the way it made her feel. When she met Yogi Bhajan he reminded her that she was a radiant graceful being, and he taught everyone to tap into their awareness of how wonderful it is to be a human being, what a gift this life is and how we should continue to elevate our consciousness through the work we do, the food we eat, the life we lead, the choices we make.

Elizabeth married another American yogi in a Sikh wedding at which Yogi Bhajan presided. She lived in an ashram in the 1980s in Seattle, and practiced law there. The ashram setting gave her the great opportunity to develop a strong daily practice of yoga and meditation, to explore with others the depth of the mind, the heights of the soul, to experience what it’s like to have a spiritual teacher, to live a healthy lifestyle. For this she will always be grateful.

She is also grateful that through Yogi Bhajan’s teachings she developed her intuition, and knew when it was time to move forward from the 3HO ashram – and she and her husband left together to venture forth and continue their path of exploration and life.

Having grown up an expat child, the daughter of a United Nations forester who worked in Asia and the Near East, it wasn’t much of a stretch for Elizabeth to agree to move to Brussels with her husband. In fact she encouraged the effort! It was great to be living overseas again as an adult, fully responsible and working and playing with people from all over the world.

Funny how life is when we commit fully: a bit of change, a movement here or a commitment to really stay put – can add so much depth to our life.

As the millennium turned, so did the path of Elizabeth’s life. A fellow she’d known in middle school in Kuala Lumpur sought her out, came to Europe to re-meet her and asked her to marry him. She said yes and they are married and live in the District with their 2 dogs, Peter Isaac and Guru Bambi – one of which she brought back from India 2 years ago. But that’s another story.

At first, Elizabeth’s work in DC involved telecommuting to Brussels – a job that she found increasingly isolating. To counter that feeling of working alone after having been in a rich diverse office at the center of the EU, she took pottery classes at Hinckley pottery, acting classes with the Theatre Lab – and yes yoga classes! In the decade she’d been away, yoga had become popular in the USA – something it was not in the 1980s when she lived in the ashram.

Thanks to Darshan Kaur in Herndon, and Vinyasa classes that had popped up at the Dance Studio on Connecticut, Elizabeth fully jumped back into yoga.

When Elizabeth began teaching in the District there were a few Kundalini yoga classes, most not well attended. She started renting space and teaching – and developed a Saturday morning class that to this day is attended by folks from Rockville, Maryland to Burke, Virginia as well as DC residents and folks that visit from all over the world that used to practice at Yoga House or have heard about us.

Although she still has an active lawyers’ license, Elizabeth was moved to become a full-time business owner and yoga teacher. She created Yoga House Studio in 2005 to create a DC Kundalini Yoga community – the nearest place at that time was Sterling, Viriginia. (see About Yoga House Studio for more details about its history).

Training teachers and creating a Kundalini community were top priority – and we did this! After 5 years in the space on Georgia Avenue and 7 teacher trainings later it was time for a change.

We loved our cosy nest – but like all nests, sometimes one has to move out of them to grow. My intuition was so loud: move out! And as a Kundalini yoga teacher if you teach anything, it’s that developing the intuitive mind is what makes you human. So I listened and I am so happy I did.

Not having a full yoga shop to run has given Elizabeth the time she wanted to spend with her husband and family, to work on personal and professional projects and to travel and teach. Last year she had an amazing time teaching yoga in Hanoi and Saigon. In addition to meeting great people, it reminded her that if we stay in one place with one perspective for too long – we get rigid.

It’s just like our yoga practice, we have to mix it up a little! If we do the same thing all the time, we get religious, rigid and we can no longer see anything except from that one angle.

I believe it was Walter Lippman who said – where we sit determines what we see. So sometimes it is important to change seats!!!

“I feel very strongly we have to live what we teach. We instruct our students to move toward balance and an intuitive mind, and if we can’t do it for ourselves then we are missing the teachings, we are missing the richness of our lives by trying to fit into a form created by someone else.”

It’s been three years since I closed the 3634 Georgia Avenue space, began teaching again in Dupont Circle and began teaching more classes, even meditation, at the Sports Club LA. Since then I’ve traveled and taught classes and trainings around the USA and Asia, and the Caribbean. We are heading back to Roatan in 2014, and India in 22015. www.yogahousestudio.com/retreats for more!

 Elizabeth Gurumukh at Sattva 2013

As I look out on the fall foliage this season I am continually astounded by the richness and the beauty of this planet and my heart feels so completely full. I have so much love in my heart for our yoga community, for my husband and canine family, and for my extended family of friends and yogis.  I know I am lucky to be able to feel so much love and I am deeply grateful.

I believe each of us can manifest easily with clear intention and committed energy. It’s not by pushing hard, it’s by listening and aligning. This to me is the meaning of sacred geometry – to fit with ease, to be willing to move and shift toward that divine alignment.

The first step is to feel safe in being alive. That is why I teach Kundalini Yoga to people – as it gives us this experience of expanded self, this safe self, this space of feeling divinely alive and connected to all living beings and energies.

The experience of yoga continues to be sacred for me – for many of us. But the form the yoga takes – whether we do one style or another – this part must be allowed to shfit and align, too.

Being around longer on the planet does give some wisdom if our eyes are open, if we are listening.  I have found that all yoga organizations grow stale and rigid over time … that they become teacher or ego heavy. And when this happens, the true essence of yoga seems to erode.

The original yogis were explorers – of Consciousness, of sensations, of methods – we too are all original yogis, light minds trying to find our way.

I encourage all of you to continue the exploration of Self, use form to encourage freedom, not to stop it. Thanks for the work you do, thanks for reading this.

All Peace, Sat Nam, Namaste

The credentials part: E-RYT 500, Yoga House Studio is a Yoga Alliance 200 Registered Yoga School. Elizabeth has completed the KRI 500 hour training as well as the Ashtanga Yoga Center’s 200 hour teachers’ training. Elizabeth studied directly with Yogi Bhajan for 6 years, has taken classes with all the senior Kundalini Yoga teachers; Shiva Rae, David and Sharon Jivamukti, Manus Jois, John Friend, David Swenson, Johnny Kest, Damien DeBastier and David Ingalls. Studied Ho’oponopono with Stan Haleakala and Morna Simeone, certified Rebirther/Conscious Breathing with Sondra Ray, Sat Nam Rasayan with Guru Dev Singh. Co-teacher in teacher trainings with Sada Sat Singh and Sada Sat Kaur of Yoga Borgo and Gurmukh of Golden Bridge in NYC, the India intensive program, and Kripalu. You can reach Elizabeth Gurumukh at yogawithElizabeth@yahoo.com

YA E-RYT 500