Why Spirit Bear?
The symbol of the Bear has deep meanings to many Native American tribes. Although the stories about bears may differ between tribes, its strength and courage are universally revered. Even though Tara and Emily do not have Native American ancestry, they found themselves drawn to this symbol of power and instinctual action that relies on introspection and industriousness to be effective.
As two yogis working together in Waco, Texas, there’s no absence of Bear imagery. Baylor University, located in Waco, is the home of the Bears. The university’s mascot is emblazoned around town on restaurant walls, bumper stickers, and billboards. The Baylor campus even houses two live bears in a habitat near the student union. So while Bears are not a new symbol, the concept of the Spirit Bear Yoga is something Tara and Emily want more people to embrace – regardless of their ancestry or university allegiance.
The creators of this site were both seeking a way to reach out to others with yoga in a new way. Each of them had experienced physical and mental health benefits from yoga practice and wanted a means to share that unique way of coping and healing with others. Tara had a strong interest in wilderness therapy, and Emily had a background in education. A book Emily read once while teaching middle school came to mind while the two were talking about discovering ways to cope with stress and nurture inner strength. The book was Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen. It’s a young adult novel, but it seemed to have a message for the two yogis. When Tara embarked on her next wilderness adventure, she named her GPS tracker Spirit Bear. The name stuck -- and became a symbol for searching, connecting, and finding what can be revealed about yourself when you take the time to look deeper within. It became a concept, then a specific idea, and, finally, the motivation to create this website.
The animal known as the "spirit bear" is actually a subspecies of the American black bear found on Coastal British Columbian Islands. There is much mystery and folklore surrounding this uniquely-colored bear since it inhabits remote areas rarely traversed by humans. In Mikaelsen’s novel, the Spirit Bear is both elusive – and revealing. The Spirit Bear fills this paradoxical role by helping the main character discover healing through limited – yet deeply profound – encounters.
As Tara and Emily have both personally learned, healing can be an elusive. For some individuals it might even seem illusive– or not real at all. While there are many ways we can experience pain, both physically and mentally, there often seems like there are few paths leading to remedy. We believe Spirit Bear Yoga can help point you in the direction of restoration. Think of it as your GPS. Do you need a more accurate reading on your location in life? Is pain making you unsure which way to go next? Do you just need some direction about how to live a more healthy life? We hope the information we have collected and shared here will be a source of encouragement along your path towards your mountaintop of healing, health, and happiness.