Luminary Profile: Sara Avant Stover
Sara Avant Stover is a yogini, inspirational speaker, teacher, mentor, and author of the best-selling book The Way of the Happy Woman. A pioneer in merging modern women’s spirituality and lifestyle, Sara is committed to helping women tap into their true happiness & desire. Her teachings have touched us deeply and we are honored to share her words with you.
If you could share a piece of wisdom or comfort with a younger version of yourself, what would it be?
This is a great question! I would tell myself not to worry so much. To enjoy my adventures, enjoy myself, enjoy my life. To trust that my path will take me exactly where I want to go and that all the obstacles and heartaches are perfectly a part of that. I’d say, “You’ll be fine. Keep going. Laugh and play more. You’re beautiful; don’t try to hide it. It’s all (more than) okay. I love you so much and I’m so proud of you. Smile!”
What is the simplest change you’ve made in your life that has had the biggest positive impact?
Embracing my sexuality and becoming more of a sex-positive role model. In the past four years I’ve resurrected my sexual self from the background and have brought her to the foreground. She partners with my spiritual self to run my business, my relationships, and my life. What does this look like? Expressing parts of myself that were in hiding during my twenties when I was more of an austere yogini. I’m a beautiful woman and I want to share myself as fully as I can with the world. That is one of the gifts I don’t want to risk not giving. As a result I feel happier, freer, and more powerful than ever before.
What foods & practices are essential to your wellbeing?
Well, this for sure is my specialty! What I absolutely need to help me feel and show up my best is pretty simple for me now. These aspects are such ingrained parts of me and my life that doing them is no longer a “discipline”; and going without them is no longer an option (because I hate feeling like crap). First, I need to get enough sleep. I run best on 8-9 hours. I make this a priority, however I do suffer from insomnia from time to time so I’m also familiar with how the world looks and feels to me when I have much less. I sit at my altar and meditate when I wake up in the morning for a minimum of 30 minutes. This is the bedrock of my life and has been for the past decade. I practice Buddhist meditation, which also involves some element of prayer and devotion. I move everyday—some days that’s (yin or flow) yoga, other days it’s hiking, cardio and weightlifting at the gym, P90X, or a dance class. Having both really dynamic exercise and softer, more restorative practices make me feel energetically balanced, alive, and rested. I eat a really clean diet—hardly any caffeine (aside from my morning mug of mate and a coffee with my boyfriend on Sundays), tons of greens (I average about at least a head of kale a day), no gluten, hardly any grains, no sugar (except for daily doses of dark chocolate). I’ve learned that vegan/vegetarian diet doesn’t work well for me—after having lived that way for almost two decades. Now, at the recommendation of a Taoist nutritionist, I eat high-quality meats. As a gal with a very sensitive digestive system, these are the things that make me feel my best. I also take a lot of baths in the evenings, with Epsom salts and lavender oil. I journal almost everyday before I go to sleep to decompress from the day. I also have a good support system for when I need it—a masseuse, acupuncturist, women’s circle, mentors, teachers, coaches. Last but not least, I self-care with play and fun. Date nights with my boyfriend, a glass of red wine in front of the fire, going out dancing, playing with my niece and nephews….
All of the above! Plus going on retreat—even if it’s just a morning or a day of more intensive yoga and meditation. I attend a silent, meditation retreat twice a year, or ideally one every season. I don’t know who I’d be or what my life would look like without those retreats. I think I’d be really lost, burned out, unhappy, and disconnected from my heart and what inspires me. If I’m depleted I also unplug for a day or three. I put an autoresponder on my e-mail, tell friends I’m not available for phone calls or texts, and I power down my computer. Then I fill my time with the things that I know I love and help me to feel full. That always involves sleep, yoga, walks outside, time with my boyfriend, lazy time at home for naps/reading/watching chick flicks, cooking good foods (I got a slow cooker this winter and just love it). It’s really the simple things that recharge me the most. Doing less of what drains me. Doing more of what I love. A day filled with this can go a loooong way.
I really want to live the realization that happiness is a daily discipline and a devotion. It’s a moment-to-moment practice that affords us the opportunity to continually choose what will make us feel our best and to live the lives that we most want to live. I’m passionate about debunking the myth of “stress,” “busyness,” and “victim mentality.” We must be the queens of our own lives, sovereign over the choices we make. The answers are within us.
I’m in the trenches with “stress” and “busyness” everyday. And everyday I’m faced with the choice of how I want to live. We can’t expect anyone or anything to save us or make us happy. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are more divine and sublime than most of us take the time to even notice! Our happiness is within us, waiting for us to claim it here and now. Life is sensual, delicious, and ecstatic when we allow it to be. I’m passionate about guiding other women to realize and live this truth in all areas of their lives. Vibrant, vital women inspire everyone: “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Bliss is our birthright and we’re the only ones who can claim it—so let’s!
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