Founder, Curator, Primary Teacher
Mama, wife, yoga practitioner, teacher, dancer, therapist, writer, creative wild-force, lover of all that is mysterious inside our bodies and on planet earth. Livia Cohen-Shapiro M.A. is a pioneer in the burgeoning intersection of yoga and psychology, with a focused dedication to embodiment.
She weaves together yogic teachings, disciplined asana and somatic psychology into clear and meaningful experiences for students. Livia is often praised for her wit, humor and fierce-love. And is sought after for her honesty, openness and willingness to go to the dark side with people. A scholar-practioner, she is a captivating lecturer, and warm facilitator. You will find her passion for learning and self discovery infectious as her work seeks to expand the repertoire of every students capacities over time at their mental, physical and emotional levels. Livia is the creator of Applied Psychology for Yogis, offering somatic psychology based educational programs and psychotherapeutic mentoring online and in person to all yoga teachers and students around the globe.
More in her own words....
I am an acquired taste to say the least. Often people say I am a breath of fresh air. Its probably because I swear a lot and tell the blunt truth. My friends tell me I am a mystic and a thug. I consider myself a teacher, writer, artist, counselor, spiritual activist and forever a student. I am uninterested in fluff and woowoo. I am utterly convinced that TRUST, HONESTY, and TRUTH in ourselves, each other, and in this planet is what we must cultivate.
My work encompasses two words: EXPANSION and REPERTOIRE. Essentially I help people get from point A to point B and look head on at all the junk in between. My deepest wish is to help students and teachers of yoga grow their ranges of motion and emotion through steady asana practice, somatic education, and body centered mentorship/counseling. In working to bridge the gap between yoga and modern psychology, I am, along with others, advancing our modern yoga culture to encompass both greater psychological health and re-inspired ideas of ancient yogic wisdom.
I call this work Ecstatic Unfoldment. I believe that we are creatures meant to expand and grow. But that these do not preclude or omit pain and suffering. My hope is that we can learn to use everything and anything as fodder for the fire of souls evolution--which can be done through yoga, ritual, meditation, dance, relationships, and self knowing. Learn more about this method and read our manifesto here.
I created Applied Psychology For Yogis as a way to bring essential somatic psychology tools to the lives, practice and teaching of dedicated yoga students and instructors. Together we unfurl our processes more gracefully and authentically while teaching yoga with ever more nuanced psychological knowhow. You can read more about the conception of Applied Psychology for Yogis here.
My teaching 'style' is thoughtful, clear, direct and witty. Progressive sequencing and articulate alignment instruction convey the teachings of yoga asana, tantric and earth-based philosophy, and somatic psychology. This is a blending of years of study in the Iyengar and Anusara yoga methods along with Rajanaka Tantric philosophy, body centered psychology, 5 Rhythms dance and Rites of Passage. Digestible classes, workshops, trainings and mentorship leave students and clients empowered, ignited and pushed right up to the edges of their own progress mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally.
I am originally from Baltimore Maryland, where I began studying yogic traditions at age 15 through the lens of mythology and iconography. My interest turned to the yoga mat because I felt messed up, lonely, terribly depressed and threw up everything I ate. I turned to the mat because looking at beautiful pictures and studying esoteric ideas did not help me love myself. Practicing yoga asana helped me make a deal with myself to live life, day-by-day with reverence and devotion. Over time my desperation and angst has dissipated but my love for yoga--its stories and its practice--has never dwindled.
I have so many influences and teachers to be grateful for. I have studied Iyengar Yoga and Anusara Yoga extensively and now study with Christina Sell. I am a student of Neelkantha meditation under the guidance of Paul Muller Ortega. I continue to study the 5Rhythms, expressive arts and Rites of Passage work with Melissa Michaels and the SomaSource Map. I have studied Rajanaka Yoga since a teen with Douglas Brooks.
I am forever grateful for those who have cared for me and taken me under their wing. I hope I embody their collective wisdom well and with respect. Ms. Hanson my 9th grade history teacher, who handed me Siddhartha. My Bubby, my very short and very cute Grandmother. My first yoga mentor Piper Petrie. My mentors in somatic psychology Arielle Schwartz and Leah D'Abate.
I have been practicing yoga since 2000 and teaching yoga since 2003. I have studied psychology since 1994 and have a masters degree in Somatic Counseling Psychology from Naropa University which I earned in 2013. I live with my devoted and fearlessly loving husband Elliot, our beautiful and sweet daughter Olive and our two cats, Layla and Mr. Ray.