Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
INSIGHTS: Alchemy of Love and Yoga with Sianna Sherman

Love and yoga are an alchemy that can turn wounds into wisdom, pain into love. Sianna Sherman, Founder of Rasa Yoga, believes focused, body-centered practices can help us on the journey. 

“This alchemy includes our willingness to “cultivate skillful means with listening and communication skills, lean into conflict repair when needed, and work together with our imagination to resolve problems,” said Sherman.

And, she says, there is never a shortage of play, laughter, dance, and creativity on the journey. “One of the definitions of alchemy is the “seemingly magical process of transformation and creation,” said Sherman. However, there is “deep surrender that is necessary along the way.” 

In advance of her June 10th workshop, Phoenix Rising: Awaken Your Power Through the Alchemy of Yoga, offered both on-campus and online, Sherman shared more about alchemy, love, and energy.

Christine Chen: Is this journey of discovering alchemy transformational? How? 

Sianna Sherman: Alchemy reminds us that we are here for the metaphorical transformation of lead into gold. We want to remember who we truly are and what we are capable of. Alchemy transforms the dross into something useful. It transforms the poison into nectar. We work together to transform ourselves so that our relationship can be a force that contributes to the collective transformation in the world. 

CC: Tell us a little about your journey in love. 

SS: Without a doubt, it’s been a quest and the heroine’s journey for me! So many heartbreaks, dark nights of the soul, and plunges into the underworld. At the same time, so many adventures, connections, and big life lessons through relationships. In the way of alchemy, I’ve been initiated many times through the alchemical heart fire and I know that Grace has the power to transform everything. 

CC: Was there a tipping point for you along the way? 

SS: It’s been a continual journey with multiple tipping points, but one undeniable tipping point was going through a divorce when I realized I needed even more skills to get through it. I began shadow work when I was 24-years old but I didn’t have a steady guide. 

When I felt completely heartbroken and devastated with the fierce dissolution of my marriage, I began searching for a shadow work guide. I found my mentor and now train extensively to share these skills with others. My own transformation through the divorce eventually became a steady anchor for me to keep showing up more fully. 

CC: What is shadow work and how does it contribute to alchemy? 

SS: Shadow is the internal storehouse for aspects of ourselves that we’ve disowned, rejected, denied, or cast away for whatever reason. Essentially, it’s what we don’t want to see about ourselves. This includes our fear, bias, conditioning, and unresolved wounds as well as our gifts, magic, and ways that we can contribute to the world. 

In shadow work, we turn towards the tough stuff. We face it, embrace it, and transform it. It can be a messy process, and it’s totally worth it because we liberate stuck energy and free up greater vitality, creativity, and ways to serve the world. 

CC: What role does energy play?

SS: All of life is energy. We are physical and energetic beings. We can “feel” what’s happening in a space even before we can name it. If we think of emotions as E-motions, energy in motion, then we can consciously work with this form of energy in our relationships. We learn to be in relationship with our emotions, not labeling them as good or bad, and no longer reacting from them. This is emotional intimacy and it’s one of the essential ingredients for thriving relationships and the Alchemy of Love. 

CC: Name three key ingredients in your own personal alchemy of… love.

SS: Real Respect. Emotional Intimacy. Creativity and Playfulness every day. 

“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.

Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?

Sherman’s June 10–12 workshop, Phoenix Rising: Awaken Your Power Through the Alchemy of Yoga, is the first of our new-era offerings: digital hybrid workshops to allow our curriculum to reach more people… everywhere.



Christine Chen

Christine Chen is the host of Esalen Live! and Chief Editor of The Journal. She is a two-time Emmy winning journalist, best-selling author, California native, and senior teacher of yoga and Ayurveda on Esalen Faculty.