In today’s economy it seems nearly impossible (and downright delirious) to walk away from a stable job, especially to pursue a passion that requires moving forth into unknown territory. It takes guts to make such an uncharted move, which is exactly what 25-year-old Taylor Harkness did.
At the young age of 20, he was living in Florida with a pre-med degree, a full-time job as a paramedic and a successful career ahead of him.
On his days off he was a rock-climbing enthusiast, but unfortunately the flat lands of Florida forced him into an indoor training facility, which was no match for his high level of energy. The routine became mundane, and to mix it up a friend mentioned trying yoga. He fell in love and in a brave move, made a jumping-splits leap from ambulance to yoga mat.
HOW TAYLOR HARKNESS REMOVES DARKNESS AND SHINES ON
One glance at a photograph of Taylor doing yoga and you would think he has been a yogi since he came out of the womb. His physical form and brilliant smile will catch your eye; his wise, insightful words will catch your ear. You’ll easily get inspired by his collection of jaw dropping gumby-like poses, which are always so eloquently balanced with encouraging and honest words, packed with positivity.
MiLLENNiAL met up with Taylor to attend one of his feel good flows in Santa Monica. It’s hard to believe that his role as a full time, world traveling yoga instructor was not one he originally sought out. With a whopping 29k followers, this inspirational Millennial yogi is kicking asana* in the industry.
STUCK BETWEEN A ROCK AND HARD PLACE
As a full time paramedic, his high stress career demanded long shifts at odd hours. Inevitably, it left Taylor feeling as if he were “burning the candle at both ends.” A relaxing yoga class was exactly what he needed.
“I thought yoga involved sitting in a dark room humming and stretching,” he tells MiLLENNiAL. He was in for a surprise. “ I had my butt handed to me and I loved every second of it. It was not at all what I expected.” After his first yogic experience he initially found himself on his mat 3x a week, 5x a week, and eventually he practically moved into the studio practicing everyday.
“A year into it, the [studio] owner came at me with yoga teacher training. She felt I was a natural. I was always whispering words of encouragement. If someone was giving up I’d help or say something like, ‘fix your knee’.” Each time she approached him about the possibility of teaching, Taylor admitted, “I was always making excuses.” His amount of hesitancy in the offer was reasonable, considering his upcoming degree, which was a path to a promising career in the medical field.
THAT ONE DAY THAT CHANGED HIS LIFE
Long days in the medical field lead to exhaustion. He had to “really dig deeply in order to show up [and work with] these people who spent their whole lives not taking care of themselves”. Arriving on scene at 3AM to find people who were heavily intoxicated, violent, or sick started to “wear me down”.
Taylor credits yoga for giving him a perspective change. “Yoga helped show me that we are all the same. I was able to see myself in others so I can help others. We all have struggles. Had I been in their similar circumstance, I may have ended up the same way.” After a “rough stressful shift in the ambulance” Taylor realized it was time to make a change, he finally inquired about becoming a yoga teacher. “I sent an email to the owner: ‘I just can’t do this anymore and would love to jump into the training.’ She immediately responded with ‘Whatever has to happen…we’ll make it work.”
“Three days later I started. It snowballed.” He came to the realization he could still help people, but in a different capacity. Ultimately, Taylor confesses, “I’m so glad I had a shitty day and a terrible shift.” He realizes without that day, he wouldn’t be where he is today.
Taylor Harkness inspires others to #ShineOn
Only a gifted yoga instructor, such as Taylor, has the unique ability to touch students hearts all while the students learn to touch their toes. His teachings have brought him to yoga studios all around the world, leading retreats, workshops, and assisting the well known yoga goddess, Kathryn Budig at conferences.
Each yoga practice is sealed with the word “Namaste.” Kindly whispered from the instructor’s lips, all hands are drawn to heart center in an anjali mudra. It is an offering of gratitude and respect given to the students. The loose translation of this ancient Sanskrit term is “the light in me sees and acknowledges the light within you.”
Taylor has taken that sentiment a step further and encourages his students to “Shine On” a phrase he uses to empower his students to be true to themselves. As he draws his hands to his heart you’ll notice a sun tattooed on one wrist and stars on the other, a forever reminder of this statement. He adds, “We are all shiny people and we have to encourage others. It’s not just your right its your responsibility to shine, you have no other option. If you’re not shining brightly you’re playing small and that is serving no one. By shining on, you’re creating a life you’re passionate about, being honest with yourself, and going after things you want.”
One of the many brilliant facets of Shining On is living positively and passionately. Taylor says, “When you live passionately you inspire other people to do the same. It creates this ripple effect. If one person inspires one other person [it multiplies]. Guiding words of happiness like this, coming from such a radiant soul, gleaming smile, and sparkling eyes, you almost feel as if you need to wear sunglasses in his presence.
BILINGUAL YOGA AND CONSERVATION
Since becoming a full-time yogi, Taylor has opened himself up to a multitude of other opportunities he never thought possible. Intertwining his love for yoga, nature, people, travel, culture, and the environment, Taylor is approaching new projects that weave a rich tapestry of these offerings.
After spending time in Central America he has been working towards offering more yoga classes to bilingual communities. He is currently working on his fluency in Spanish in hopes of bringing westernized yoga lineage to students who don’t speak English.
Collaborating with charities that acknowledge environmental preservation is another of his big projects. Taylor believes that “conservationism is where our energy needs to go.” Nature is where [his] heart is. “Preserve our planet. It’s going to disappear before we realize it was even there.”
Taylor’s goal in life may have been to become a medical doctor, but through his journey of self-discovery, he instead extends his gifts towards a holistic kind of healing. Societal expectations didn’t stop his courageous transformation. He has since cultivated positivity and now shares a philosophy of self-exploration through yoga, wellness, and earth consciousness. His beacon of light is bound to do great things. #ShineOn Taylor!
Stay tuned to where his travels will bring him next and keep an eye out for his yoga workshop schedule on www.taylorharkness.com if you don’t see him coming to a city near you, stream him into your living room through your computer screen. Taylor Harkness recently partnered with www.yogaglo.com to give you the chance to study with world-renowned yoga instructors from the comfort of your own home.
*Asana: a·sa·naˈäsənə noun
- a posture adopted in performing hatha yoga.