Morgan DeYoung aka The Southern Yogi is best known for teaching us how to develop a strong core through her instructional Instagram videos and in her eBook, Ab’Asanas. She’s an invertophile (loves being upside-down) who encourages others to explore what lies beyond their comfort zones. Morgan opened up with us about the challenges she’s faced, and what makes her tick.
I recently stumbled on these words of wisdom from public speaker and research professor Brené Brown: “Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” My own yoga practice has been a constant lesson in how to be emotionally exposed. Can you talk about yoga and vulnerability?
MD: Actually, I just cried the other day during meditation in my yoga teacher training. It’s so hard for me to be still and alone with my thoughts. Right now meditation is a dark place I’m working through, and challenging myself to go deeper with.
The mind-body connection is something we hear a lot about, too. Yoga can certainly make us face our emotions head on. Many of us also have anxieties about our bodies that make us feel vulnerable. Your Instagram followers know you from your toned and strong physique, and I’ve seen you lead classes with great confidence. Have you struggled with body insecurities?
MD: Absolutely. I think everyone does at some point. I’ve broken my nose three times and it’s quite crooked. I used to despise how it looked in photos. I constantly looked up rhinoplasty and searched for plastic surgeons to “fix me.” The older I got, the more I realized how much character it gave me. My nose has a story. I actually have great memories from each of the days I was injured. My nose is a part of me and my journey. Why would I want to change that?
Any regrets, moments or things you would change?
MD: Back when I was a competitive swimmer, and at a meet, I started changing in the locker room after all my events were finished. I was completely in the nude, with just a towel around my waist, when a group of guys all walked in. It only took me a split second to realize I had gone into the men’s locker room, and not the women’s. The guys got a good little laugh that day. I was so mortified! Haha.
Sounds like a page from my grade school nightmares! Glad to hear you survived and can laugh about it. Any advice you’d give your younger self, if you could?
MD: That you are ENOUGH. Every inch of you.
Sage words for us all. I know your passion is to inspire others to be the best versions of themselves. What advice can you share with us about figuring out how to do that?
MD: STOP comparing your journey to others. It takes you nowhere. The moment you learn that you can’t be anyone but you, is the moment you truly start to progress forward. Hold space for yourself. Have grace. It’s called a journey for a reason. What defines us isn’t the challenges we face along the way, but how we react to them.
Many of the people who know you mostly see you through the lens of social media, where you share the journey you’ve been on with yoga since 2014. Tell me some of the things we might not know about you.
MD: I’ve been married to my favorite human for 4 years. I own three wolf dogs. I am obsessed with peppermint oil. I eat my feelings at times. My face breaks out. I get hangry. I lose my temper. I’m imperfect. But I’m working on myself every single day. Oh, and I probably couldn’t live without Nutella.
Morgan’s Social media links: