About Reverend Connie L. Habash
My life is a committed journey to spiritual growth, authenticity, and learning to live the qualities of love, truth, service, and peace. It is my mission to serve by supporting others in their personal and spiritual transformation.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a seeker of truth and of the Divine. Even from my childhood, I would look out through the shutters of my window at night and wonder at the stars – in awe of all of creation. What was I here for? How did my little life fit into this vastness? I felt a strong connection to God in my heart, but what was really the Truth? What was Real? I was filled with questions and sought answers.
Over the years, I studied many different spiritual traditions – from Taoism to Native American, mystical Christianity to paganism, Buddhism to African traditions, and more. Where I found my greatest resonance was in Hinduism – the vast collection of many spiritual philosophies, and especially the philosophy and science of yoga. This became my foundation as I continued to understand a variety of different religious and spiritual perspectives, and to see the essential truths that they all shared in common. This led me very naturally to become an Interfaith Minister, honoring the uniqueness of each spiritual path and revering the common beliefs that all paths share: love, truth, respect, service to all beings, and the practice of peace. I was ordained in March of 2012 by Reverend Dr. Katherine O’Connell of East West Interfaith Seminary.
After college, I took a little time to sort out what direction I wanted to take, and eventually decided that I wanted to become a psychotherapist. But I knew that my work needed be more than just the usual talk therapy – it had to include and honor our spiritual nature. I graduated from JFK University’s Master of Arts in Transpersonal Counseling program in their School of Holistic Studies in 1994, and I became licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist in 1999. My counseling practice has evolved over the years to embrace body, mind, heart, and spirit in a variety of ways: through the breath, movement, yoga, art, dreamwork, visualization, meditation, mindfulness, sub-personality dialogue, the Enneagram, and inquiry. But my signature work came to be a unique way of listening to the wisdom of the body, leading to emotional release, insight, and transformation.
My journey as a yoga practitioner began while in graduate school in 1991 – a parallel journey of self-discovery through my body, breath, and mind. The philosophy of yoga practice, beyond just the physical poses, deeply touched me and changed my understanding of myself and the world, and also informed my work with my counseling clients. As I began to teach in 1993, my yoga classes naturally included this yogic wisdom as well as the process of inner exploration that I found so valuable in my training as a counselor. I integrate these universal spiritual principles into my classes in a way that allows each student to make their own discoveries, find ease in the body, and peace in the mind. I am very eclectic in my approach, weaving the alignment-focused style of Iyengar that is excellent for adapting to individual needs with a slow, deep style of Vinyasa or flowing movements linked with the breath. Each class includes practical philosophy that brings inspiration and a fresh perspective to daily life.
My greatest influences have been my long-time teacher, Mark Horner, and his teacher, Shandor Remete, who developed the Shadow Style of yoga. I have also been strongly influenced by Judith Lasater, whom I did Restorative and Prenatal yoga training with, as well as Rama Jyoti Vernon and Diane Valentine. I completed an 18 month teacher training at Moksha Yoga Shala in Walnut Creek, CA (now Hatha Yoga Shala in Berkeley) with Mark Horner in 2001, and I have done numerous trainings and workshops with other highly respected teachers over the years.
I have been on the faculty of 3 yoga teacher training programs in the San Francisco Bay area: currently at Mind-Body Zone in Fremont, where I teach Yoga Philosophy, Sanskrit, Yogic Lifestyle, and Ethics; The Yoga and Movement Center in Walnut Creek, where I have taught Sanskrit, Ayurvedic Yoga, and the Chakras; and Joyce Anue – YES Yoga Educational Seminars where I have taught Ayurvedic Yoga and a number of other subjects.
Sanskrit and Ayurveda
The deep study of yoga brings one in touch with many aspects of Hindu philosophy and science. In my interest to understand more deeply, I was drawn to study Sanskrit. Not only did knowing some of the language allow me to better absorb the philosophical teachings of such classics as the Yoga Sutras, as well as refine my pronunciation of yoga poses, but the language itself has a beautiful resonance and potent spiritual energy that thoroughly inspired me. I began my studies with Vyaas Huston of American Sanskirt Institute, and then was blessed to deepen my studies for two years with Dr. Sarasvati Mohan of Sanskrit Academy, who gave her blessing for me to teach beginning level Sanskrit classes.
While Sanskrit has been a passion for many years, Ayurveda, too, became an important adjunct to my yoga practice. Known as the health science of India, Ayurveda and Yoga work hand in hand to support each practitioner’s greatest well-being on all levels. Through my studies of Ayurveda, I recognized that there is no “one size fits all” yoga, and the best results for the individual resulted from a practice addressing their unique body/mind constitution and the current conditions in their life. For several years, I offered Ayurvedic Yoga consultations for individuals seeking to heal from a number of ailments and wanting to achieve optimal health physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I continue to offer Ayurvedic Yoga workshops and teacher trainings, demonstrating different yoga practices for the three doshas or body-mind types.
Ecotherapy and Deep Nature Connection
Nature has always called deeply to my heart, as a potent path to my connection to Spirit. I knew that I wanted to not only explore the outdoors more but expand my understanding of the planet on an energetic and spiritual level and feel a more powerful sense of connection with the plants, animals, and elements of our world. This connection to the Earth was essential for me in my healing and growth, and I knew I wanted to share it with others.
So I began studies in 2013 with 8 Shields at their annual Art of Mentoring course. For the last 6 years, I have immersed in their programs of deep nature connection and community building, as well as with Gaia Girls Passages. This led me to other nature connection programs and the desire to offer these experiences to my clients and students. I then pursued Ecotherapy training and completed Level 1 certification with Ariana Candell of The Earth Body Institute in April 2018. Now, I offer deep nature connection and Ecotherapy in my counseling practice and on my retreats.
I am blessed to have many amazing spiritual teachers in my life that have guided me gently and intently along my path. Some of these spiritual influences I have never even met in person, such as Reverend Michael Bernard Beckwith, whose work deeply influenced my choice to become an Interfaith Minister. I have also been grateful for my energy work teacher, Lynda Caesara, the Awakening coach Aruna Byers, Byron Katie’s “The Work”, Linda Kohanov’s Tao of Equus which led me to learn from the horse teachers (and to work with Dr. Beverley Kane of Horsensei), and many other inspirations too numerous to mention. Currently, I continue studies with Leslie Temple-Thurston, author of The Marriage of Spirit, in CoreLight’s Enhanced Self-Discovery Teacher Training, and Leonard Jacobson, author of Journey Into Now and master teacher of Presence – a practice of being awake and aware with a quiet mind and open heart in the present moment.
My deepest gratitude is to my long-time guru, Amma, an embodiment of love, compassion, and service to all beings, whose example I endeavor to follow.