Remaining Calm In the Face of Extreme Uncertainty: Life Lessons From a ‘Survivor’ Champion

Parvati Shallow on why everyone should put themselves in uncertain situations at least once a month.

Join Parvati Shallow this Saturday, April 22, for Art of Yoga at the Brooklyn Museum, for a yoga class followed by a meditation with live music accompaniment. Get your tickets here!

How did you start practicing yoga and when did it become a part of your routine regularly?

I grew up in a Hindu spiritual community, so I guess you could say I’ve been rooted in yoga since birth. But, I really started getting into a vinyasa practice when I moved to LA and started doing Power Yoga at Bryan Kest’s Santa Monica studio. The classes were so challenging that I had to coach myself through the poses. My practice has evolved a lot over time; now I incorporate kundalini yoga and meditation into my daily routine.

Where is the strangest place people can find you striking a yoga pose?

Since I’m constantly on the go, people can find me getting down in my dogs in airports worldwide.

What’s the one thing you think people should do every single day?


When did you take yoga from a personal practice to one you taught others? What did you hope to pass on to students, or those you were leading through a sequence?

After winning Survivor, I dove head first into yoga teacher trainings and opened up a wellness center in Santa Monica where I taught yoga and fitness classes. During that time I realized that running a studio was not my passion, but sharing yoga with others really brought me to life. Then my teacher Kia Miller introduced me to kundalini yoga. It blew my mind and completely changed my life. Now when I teach, I bring the fullness of my own experience. In any class, all I strive to do is uplift others and help them to have an experience of their deepest, truest self.

Do you have any daily practices or habits that are crucial to staying healthy and balanced?

Routine is not something I have ever been able to handle, so I mix things up. Every day I will honor and give thanks to this creative universe, and everyday I will connect with myself—whether that be through yoga, meditation, a hot bath, a spin class, a dip in the ocean or a great conversation with a friend. It’s important to enjoy ourselves and have fun. Making time for that is critical.

Survivor is mentally and physically taxing (this is probably an understatement!). Did the practice of yoga or mindfulness play any role in your strategy or success during the competition?

Absolutely! I credit my win on being able to remain calm and present in the midst of extreme uncertainty and discomfort. My yoga practice supported me in every way. In one challenge I had to hold one arm over my head for six and a half hours. It was truly insane! But my ability to breathe and take it moment by moment got me through. Anything is possible in the present moment—isn’t that the great gift of yoga?

What are a few things that you think should be on everyone’s bucket list?

Everyone in the world should hug a baby sloth. They are the physical embodiment of unconditional love. Additionally, everyone should put themselves in uncertain situations at least once a month— travel, try new things, make new friends, date new people! We can only grow through discomfort—so get on out there and get squirmy!

You seem to be outdoors a lot! Do you think a relationship with nature is an important one? What are some ways that people can begin to cultivate one if they don’t have it?

Nature is everything. The deeper we get into nature and off the grid, the more our bodies can drop into the healing rhythm of the earth. It’s vital to be in nature, and research is now backing up what our intuition already knows. If you don’t have a connection with nature, I encourage you to start to develop one by simply sitting outside and watching prana—observe the movement of the leaves in the trees or the wind blowing through blades of grass. Take your shoes off and walk barefoot on the ground. All you need is a few minutes to feel the shift.

Do you have any tips for staying centered and present in a crazy city like New York that is always “on”?

Hahaha, this is a tough one for me. I find that I need mini-breaks to maintain my equilibrium here. I get away from the city often and power up by heading to the beach or the mountains.

What is the Heart Beat Movement, and what is your goal behind creating it? 

My dear friend and epic drummer Caleb Spaulding and I agreed that the best things happen when people are connected to the wisdom of their bodies. So, we started Heart Beat Movement as a way to get people out of their heads and to encourage a more joyful, playful presence with themselves. It’s yoga and meditation set to the beat of live drumming. Our classes get tribal, spiritual and sweaty. And, best of all, we have so much fun with them!

Parvati Shallow is a Certified Hatha & Kundalini Yoga Teacher, Reiki Practitioner, and Certified Massage Therapist. Her work focuses on helping students experience more inner peace, flexibility, strength and self-confidence. She leads workshops and retreats around the world as well as teaching private sessions. She is also a winner and three time contestant of CBS’s Survivor.


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