Be Happy and Want the Best for Others: An Interview with Brittany Doherty
3 Nov 2015
Brittany Doherty is truly a student of life, full of spontaneity and curiosity. I always enjoy hearing about her next adventure, and admire her appetite for new experiences and learning opportunities. She is always so gracious and warm to others at the studio, and I love her generous and fun spirit.
When and how did you first come to yoga?
When I first discovered yoga in high school, I honestly didn’t think it was for me. I attended a D1 University on a sports scholarship. High intensity training and the increase in mileage took its toll on my body. I knew it was only time until my body would give out. I was too proud and stubborn to ever give up. I lived my life practice to practice, thinking and praying, please just get me through today without pain or injury. I was spending more time with our sports medicine doctors than in training. Quitting was simply not an option. Every day I would spend countless hours researching and trying new methods of medicine. Kinesiology, active release technique, rolfing and acupuncture were all modalities I tried, but even these advancements could not prevent my necessary surgery.
I finished my last sports season before graduation at the age of 21. At this time, I went in for my second major sports surgery: hip reconstruction. My doctor told me after the surgery that it was a lot worse than he had expected. I was told that it was a previous injury that never healed and he looked at me and said, “I don’t think you’ll be able to play sports again.” I responded, “Sports are my life. You can’t tell me I can’t play in a game or compete in a race. It’s not possible.”
Still on crutches, I decided I couldn’t just sit around. I did my therapy and began to swim the first opportunity I could, and for me, it was a form of meditation. Heading out of the pool one day, I noticed a ton of people lined up with mats and wondered what class everyone was waiting to take. It was a yoga class. I waited and watched through the glass door. I remember leaning on my crutches laughing and thinking, I couldn’t do 90% of those poses but maybe it could help? I went down to our sports medicine doctors and asked if I could do yoga. They gave me a panicked look and I gave them a smile. With a sigh they told me to ‘take it easy’ and do not push yourself too hard. I gave my doctor a big hug and skipped out on 3 legs. That day was the start of a new routine. The routine went a little something like this:
When and why did you decide to do the mang’Oh Teacher Training?
I moved from Ohio to New York in 2010 and continued in my practice. Yoga had become such a big part of my life in restoring health and balance that I wanted to continue learning and give the same gift back to others. The impossible is always possible, if you just believe and have faith.
I talked about teacher training for years. After much talk, my partner encouraged me to do it. Finding a TT program that would cater to someone with a full time job proved difficult but after extensive research I found mang’Oh. I looked at it online and loved the studio and its reviews. I called the studio and spoke to the very kind receptionist. After careful consideration, I decided to fill out the application.
Describe your Teacher Training experience at mang’Oh:
I knew it was going to be hard, especially having a full-time job. But it was definitely worth every moment. The TT brought me out of my comfort zone and the training brought me to explore areas of myself that I had not yet discovered. Throughout the program, my knowledge, wisdom and understanding of yoga philosophy began to flourish and I was able to really apply this new discipline to my entire life. I’m very honored to have been a part of the mang’Oh TT and I’m thankful for all the instructors and the knowledge and support they have given me.
Tell us about your journey post-mang’Oh TT…
My journey has been a roller coaster ride of many highs and many lows, but it has made for an interesting ride so far. When I was taking teacher training, I ended up quitting my corporate job. My partner and I had planned to move to the West Coast with his job but had no idea when, which made getting a suitable job in NYC a little more difficult. So I took a few part time jobs and lived in the hopes to one day become a full time instructor.
They say, all good things must come to an end but everything happens for a reason. Once my partner and I went our separate ways, I decided to stay in New York and pursue my dream. At this time, I was more than thankful for taking my TT at mang’Oh. Not only were my instructors there to guide me, they had became my extended family too. The studio and everyone in it watched me as I laughed, cried, and grew. The change of the season is always the hardest, but once you learn to embrace it, you can appreciate it’s full beauty. After some time, I was able to start working for myself, teaching clients in Soho, Tribeca and Jersey City.
Though time passed and things were looking up, I didn’t feel settled. It was something I couldn’t describe. Then came the talk of expanding my practice. A dear friend of mine, Jase Cannon introduced me to the lineage of Sivananda and its ashram in the Bahamas. So with a leap of faith, I sold my belongings and left with a suitcase and a tent, moved to the Bahamas to live at the ashram. Sounds exotic and it was quite an experience.
So here is the truth, I lived at an ashram….in a tent (yes, a tent the thing you take camping), I participated in a karma yoga program where I did selfless service work (volunteering my time and energy for free) and my daily schedule was as follows:
Wake up (anywhere from): 5-5:55am (depends on how many times I hit the snooze button, let’s be honest)
Work: 11-4pm (hypothetically speaking)
Currently, I am working on collaborating a year-long cycle. I will be starting in New York City, cycling across the United States and ending in Los Angelas. My journey will be to work with prisoners and children who have been effected by trauma and/or are terminally ill. My intention is to make this a “ride for change”. The goal is to show what community members are currently doing and what one can do for the global community, especially when one thinks outside of the box, with no expectations.
Who has influenced you, both in and out of the yoga world?
My friends have always inspired me, they are my adopted family and I am privileged to have so many incredible and talented people in my life and am greatly, honored to have the ability to call them my friends. There are so many people who have influenced me in my life and along my journey. I try to take a little something from everyone, learning as I go, so I can honestly say, some of the people who have influenced me I will never know personally. I may have just simply seen them in passing performing a kind deed.
To my yogi inspirations:
- Linda Ferari Domino owner of Yoga Soul, dear friend and mentor who’s inspirations are beyond words.
- Corina Benner, my Yin Yoga TT Instructor, a beautiful soul that I still contact for inspiration and advice.
- Jase Cannon better known as biscuit. Thank you for everything you’ve done for me in the past year! You continue to inspire me each and every day! Be sure to follow her story!
- Hal Ornstein for all his support, encouragement and most importantly, believing in me.
- mang’Oh and all the instructors. So much love and respect!
- All the wonderful souls and Karma Yogi’s I met at Sivananda Ashram through the Karma Yoga Program and in the TTC program.
- My clients! They inspire me to keep studying, to learn new techniques and information to share with them. They inspire me to always be a better person and a better instructor.
- My social media and Instagram yogis, who post incredible and crazy poses that I, myself will never be able to get into (I’d like to put the blame on my hip rather than saying, I just do not have the ability or talent for that 😉
To those who inspire without knowing.
Ellen Degeneres for who she is and all her humanitarian work. To be honest, to see Ellen live and to dance with her on her show is one of my bucket list items.
Taylor Swift for showing us that at a young age we can make a difference. The respect she has for her fans and how she gives back to her community is always inspiring.
Ronaldo, blew away all prior expectations with conversation and admiration for his father, son and mother. He took the time to speak with me about my goals for the future and my will to cycle across the country to work with prisons and children. He stated, sometimes you’re only given one chance and to take every opportunity you can because it may never come around again. You can do anything you put your mind to. You have to believe in yourself because if you don’t, no one else will.
When you are not a working or at yoga, where can we find you and what are you doing?
I love being outside and exploring the city, finding cute cafes, playing/reading in parks, being in the city as a tourist. My new thing is photography, capturing the beauty of life through a lens.
When I’m by the ocean, you’ll find me venturing on a jet ski, playing soccer, practicing kite surfing, snorkeling, swimming with turtles…or sitting oceanside building sand castles (yes, I am a child at heart!)
My main love affairs are writing in my journal, coffee (hard habit to kick but I’m trying), nature, reading, roof top gardens, music, dancing, comedy shows and karaoke (I like to pretend that I can sing).
Describe your perfect day in NYC:
Waking up to the smell of coffee brewing, surprise breakfast, served in my backyard. Nice long call with my grandmother while sitting in the backyard after finishing breakfast. Friends who join for a cup of coffee and conversation.
An adventure out, every person picks one thing they would like to do, something new, without question or a plan and, we do it. Picnic in Central Park, drive upstate, bus tour, ferry ride, the adventure continues until we stop back in Hoboken sitting at the waters edge, watching the city lights. As long as I have my friends, outdoor space and my practice, I’m a pretty happy camper!
What is something that has surprised you in the last year?
The last year was challenging. I was given a blank canvas, a chance to start over completely. At the time, I didn’t know how privileged I was to receive such a gift. I greeted each day as a blessing; not knowing what it might hold but keeping the faith that I was exactly where I needed to be. What surprises me the most is that I’m happier now than I’ve ever been and if it weren’t for the challenges in my life, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
What advice would you give to someone looking to do what they love?
To follow your intuition. Fear is uncertainty of the unknown. Do not be afraid to try and fail rather than always wondering “what if”. Never judge yourself against others. We are all unique and we all have different gifts and goals. Always be happy and want the best for others. Ill intentions will only cause you harm. Listen, something is always guiding you, once you quiet the mind you’ll find the answers you’ve been searching for. Figure out what makes you happy and what makes you unique. Also, figure out ways to bring the best out of others. Never give up and always have faith and most importantly, always have faith in yourself!
What are you most grateful for today?
My family for always having faith in me and for always supporting me, no matter how crazy the goal or idea might be. My family is nowhere near perfect but I’m thankful for that. It’s through the trials that have made us so strong and have made me into the person I am today.
I am thankful for my grandparents, Earl & Augusta Lambert, who will always be in my heart. My grandfather, Walter Welch who passed away far too soon. He taught me how to be tough, to never give up, to never fear. My grandmother, Phyllis, the beautiful soul that I still speak to every day, you could say, she’s one of my best friends. My Mother for always being so incredibly strong and passionate. She did everything in her power and more to give us the life she thought we deserved and she never fell short. She showed us that hard work and dedication is the answer to many of life’s problems. My younger brother, Geoffrey, a man of few words but highly talented and smart. My brother became the man of the house at a very young age and always took on many responsibilities without being asked. Thank you for always pushing me to be a better person, you are the reason why I strive to succeed.