Cyndie Spiegel: Being the most intentional and honest version of yourself
Cyndie Spiegel is women’s business coach, speaker and community leader. She has 500+ hours of yoga teacher training and integrates the philosophical parts of her yoga practice into her day-to-day life. She recently spoke at TEDx and launched The Community (of Us). The greatest focus for her energy goes towards empowering women to live their fullest lives.
Hi, Cyndie! It’s wonderful having you on the Setu blog. I’d love to jump into our conversation by going back in time. You were in corporate for 17 years before venturing out on your own. Where in this period of time did you start your yoga practice? How did your yoga practice and interest in training grow from there?
I started practicing yoga when I was 28. It was the year my dad died. I did my trainings when I was 33 and I’m 40 now.
Interestingly enough, I didn’t know I was seeking something but while I was working my full time job I just kept doing other things. I’d either take random trips around the world or different workshops; and I went back to get my graduate degree. [I did] lots of different things to keep me busy outside of the work I was doing.
A really good friend of mine, my best friend actually, who has done all the yoga teacher trainings at ISHTA, said, ‘I think you should just look into it.’ Nothing about me wanted to teach yoga. I was not a public person. I did not want to be in front of people. That wasn’t my jam. It was more to understand myself better and dig deeper into what I was looking for.
I completed the 200 hour and then a year later I went back and did the 300 hour. It was probably between the 200 and 300 that I left my corporate job and took on a consulting job. I decided I was going to leave corporate. I was going to consult, make a lot of money and wouldn’t have to worry about anything ever again. Except I did get consulting jobs and I still wasn’t happy. I thought, ‘what is going on here, now I make X amount of dollars and I’m working only three days a week. Shouldn’t I be happier now? Shouldn’t I have found the thing?’ I went back and did the 300 hour teacher training. I realized that so much of the work I was doing out in the world – even though it was fashion related – was based on my principles and values, which in a lot of ways came from my yoga practice.
At ISHTA you were practicing with Peter Ferko. Can you share more about learning under him?
Yes, Peter was my very first yoga teacher and interestingly enough he ordained our wedding. I had been trying to meditate for what I felt like was a very long time. I was so antsy and thought, ‘This is bullshit, why do I have to do this?’
Peter was my very first teacher — I remember his class like it was yesterday. I came out of meditation and savasana and the whole room was empty. I thought, ‘What just happened? where’d everybody go?’ A half hour had passed and I was nowhere to be found – deep in meditation – and Peter said, ‘Well there, now you know what it is.’ I was like, ‘Ok. This shit’s real.’
There’s a certain sense of calm and focus that comes from [meditation]. I say this all the time: ‘it’s not really about where you get to, it’s about the inner balance point that it brings you to.’ You’re not always going to get to that place where you’re like, ‘oooh I didn’t even know the time passed.’ You may have a constant list going in your head. The reality of it is that when you open your eyes and you go out into the world, or probably into your apartment, the lense you’re seeing the world through is much clearer, with more focus than you had before. It’s not because you went to this magical mystical meditation place but that you sat and let everything come to balance.
I’m curious how you knew so inherently, it seems, to integrate your yoga learnings with your work.
I don’t think I knew inherently. I knew they were never completely separate. The coaching I was doing and the public speaking — the work that I was doing in the world was very much based on my belief system. But I wouldn’t say I consciously decided or knew that it was because I was a yoga teacher.
The way that came up for me was, earlier in 2016 I was taking a master training – one for when you’re past the 500 hour. I remember my dear friend, the co-founder of ISHTA, saying, ‘You know you don’t have to do this. You’re not actually teaching.’ Her comment wasn’t rude, it was kind of asking the obvious question of, ‘Do you really need to take this?’ Then I had a practice and when I came out of practice, a bell went off. I remember thinking to myself, ‘But I am teaching yoga every single day!’ It wasn’t a thing I planned on – I had already built Cyndie Inc.
It really became clear to me at that point. Every single day I teach yoga, I just don’t teach Asana. There’s a real integration of my yoga class into the work that I do. The foundation of all the teaching that I do is from yoga. It’s a way of showing up in the world. Whether I’m teaching at Parsons, teaching a room full of women or coaching women, it all has the foundation of yoga beneath it.
Is your understanding of how to integrate the other limbs of yoga into your day-to-day work coming from a certain part of the philosophy of the yoga sutras or a mentor?
I’d say a lot of it is from Patanjali. It’s all of the other eight limbs that I do everyday. It’s present in everything I do – every post I write and talk I give. It’s a way of being. You don’t have to read the yoga sutras to have it yourself — I recommend you do — but you don’t have to. It’s a way of wanting to show up in the world. Being the most intentional and honest version of yourself.
Does that kind of thought process spur how you engage online?
Yes. It really does. The thing that’s so powerful to me about the stuff I write is I’m not saying, ‘listen, read my yoga.’ It’s about, ‘read my truth.’ In that truth, I want you to see that I cry as much as I laugh and I build communities as much as I’m not accepted into other ones. It’s the this and the that. We have to accept that holistically for ourselves, which is why I find the need to share my wins boldly and confidently and at the same time share my truths and vulnerably allow myself to be seen. Because we’re going to get both. I can choose to share just one side but that wouldn’t be complete.
Who are five teachers you recommend the Setu take class from?
Alan Finger (meditation)
Peter Ferko (yoga)
Sarah Finger (yoga)
Douglass Stewart (founder of yoga in times square)
Aino Siren (at ISHTA)
Thank you Cyndie! We’ll looking for opportunities to catch an upcoming talk or workshop with you!