tammy binkley.

santa rosa beach, florida.  |  wife. aunt. holistic esthetician. yoga instructor.

Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual practice, that aims to transform body and mind. And while I am somewhat embarrassed to make this statement on a public platform, it has taken me 11 years to get through an entire yoga class … without laughing. I chalk up that childish behavior to a traumatic yoga experience in San Francisco back in 2003. My dearest friends, Samantha and Hayley, took me to a grand Yogi master instructor who was only in the states for three days. This American born man studied yoga and lived in India for like, 60 years. He was holding court for 150 yoga lovers on this particular day, and luckily, we got the last three available spots in the gigantic studio. Towards the end of the class, while holding the downward dog or stranded warrior pose, I hear the instructor yell, “You in the back! With the pink T-shirt,” I looked around the room for another pink t-shirt. Surely, he would not be using me as an example. “You need to go back to aerobics class.” he said smartly. I laughed out loud. I laughed because I had never done aerobics before. I had watched my Aunt Mary do a Jane Fonda tape once. But I never even owned a pair of leg warmers. Also, I laughed out loud, because I was in shock. This spiritual leader was calling me out on a cat -cow pose, or whatever. (Not so yogi, Mister Guru.)

But a few years later, I met Tammy Binkley and she taught me that yoga is a practice. Simply, a practice. And I have never forgotten those gentle words.  And as I balanced the bird of paradise pose in my Vinyassa class this morning, I laughed out loud thinking about that day in San Francisco. I am still practicing a lot of things and I feel certain, that even the queen of aerobics, Jane Fonda herself, probably screws up an aerobics class every now and then. That’s just life. Like yoga, it’s a practice.

  As the j-jane holiday series continues, allow me to share a few words from Tammy Binkley to inspire a healthy holiday season. Enjoy!

How did you choose the life you lead and was it a conscious decision?

Around the age of 25 I became seriously ill with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I instinctively knew that something was off. I knew something I was doing must be causing the debilitating symptoms of chronic fatigue. Something was out of alignment with my life. This set me on a journey of wellness, self healing, yoga and a move to the beach. It began a journey of self discovery, who I was and what I really wanted to do.

How did you choose your career?

I was in the insurance business for about 12 years.  All I can say, is that it was not in alignment with what I should be doing, for work or who I am.  I was miserable and often stated that I hated my job. It felt like every time I walked in to the office, I had to turn myself “off”. Turn off who I really was. After beginning yoga, it became very clear to me that I had to change careers and this would be the first step to healing myself from chronic fatigue. In the meantime, I began teaching yoga and this is when I made the decision to find a career that would go well with yoga and well being.

What has been your greatest obstacle in life and how do/did you navigate it?

My biggest obstacle has always been me. My fear to change. Or fear of not being able to make enough money. Luckily for me, and from the wisdom that I have learned from meditation and yoga, I did not listen to that voice of fear. Even today that voice will speak to me and I must consciously choose not to listen.

How do you bring courage to a challenging situation?

I trust that the Universe, God, Spirit (whatever you want to call it) has my back at all times and because I am following my passion and using my gifts, God will support me and help me through it.

Was there a fork in the road that distinctly determined your lifestyle?

Becoming ill and making the decision to heal myself was the turning point for me. If we are not living our truth, the Universe has a way of shaking us and waking us up. I firmly believe we must make decisions for ourselves, or it will be made for us.  For example, twice now, concerning my career, decisions were made for me. Once as an insurance agent, I  had to become very ill to wake up to change. The second time, I was working for a very big spa, but it was not in alignment with my values. They equally treated customers and employees poorly, but I did not choose to leave. I kept going in- day after day. A crazy event unfolded, and the spa let me go unexpectedly. It was very upsetting to me at the time. Actually, one of the worst events that had ever happened to me,  but it turned into one of the best things. I then, made the next decision. I went out on my own and opened my own Holistic Skincare Business. It was in alignment with my values, how I treat people and the products were 100% organic. Sometimes what seems like the worst thing for us, can be the best thing that can ever happen.

If you could do one thing to change the world, what would it be?

I would teach everyone how to breathe and meditate. I believe if everyone was more at peace within themselves, we could attain peace on this planet.

As a new year draws closer, what is your best advice for keeping our well thought out, ambitious New Year’s Resolutions?

First, make your resolution. Then identify the obstacles that keep you from meeting your goal or that may have tripped you up in the past. Let your focus be on removing the obstacles in the path that may get in the way of keeping your resolution. The one resolution that will help make everything in your life better and help with all other resolutions, is to remember who you are, remember your light and your divine nature. There is nothing you need to change about yourself, but remove the things that may be keeping you from shining your true light

 ‘Tis the season for sugar. (alcohol, cookies and cakes. oh my!) How do you eat clean during the holiday season?

I try to maintain clean eating during the holidays by remembering that food is fuel and not a “treat.”  Sometimes we treat ourselves because we think we deserve it. And it is actually the opposite of what is going to best serve our well being. Stick to foods with a high nutrition content. And stay mindful during the busy and sometimes stressful holidays. Warm herbal teas are a great treat that also soothes away stress.

What is your best advice on how to live a graceful life?

Trust that everything that is happening is not happening to you, it is happening for you.

j. jane side notes:

Tammy is a sweet soul. I have had the pleasure of working with her on a few charitable projects over the years. Seriously, this woman knows how to fund raise. Learn more about Tammy’s work in the beautiful panhandle of Florida. Not a bad place to practice yoga!

Namaste, Tammy Binkley, namaste.

  • Jacquelin bickel
    Posted at 04:00h, 11 December

    Great interview and great advice for the holiday season…and all year long! Thanks Tammy!

  • Shantaya
    Posted at 12:40h, 11 December

    What heartopening and refreshing article!

  • Kim
    Posted at 14:18h, 11 December

    Great Q and A! I loved your comment “food is fuel, not a treat”. I will surely be reminding myself of this truth this month!

    • Jessica Jane Stepleton Stern aka j. jane
      Posted at 12:37h, 13 December

      I have said this to myself three times since she shared those words: “Food is fuel, not a treat.” A great mantra for the holiday season. Thanks, Tammy!

  • Sara Badertscher
    Posted at 21:34h, 11 December

    It is always nice to meet the people in JJ’s life who have been so supportive. Thanks for sharing.