I was born Zackery Max Driver. It wasn’t until a few years into my Yoga practice that I decided to completely revolutionize who I was. Shuja De’Peace like a stone statue of Ganesh or Lakshmi is the vision of what I wished to be in the world or or that which I sought to embody. Shuja or Shujaa in Arabic means Courage and in Swahili it translates to Warrior, DE is the Spanish form of the preposition OF and last but not least PEACE, Warrior Of Peace (Shuja De’Peace). To many of us here in the West, the way I came in to Yoga was in reverse order. For me, Yoga started reading, studying the philosophy and the shit out of myself, relationships and experiences I had I endured. It wasn't until after a lot of meditation and this practice of what I would learn to be called Svadyaya (Sanksrit term for 'Self-Study') that I actually created my first asana (yogic posture). But even behind that there's more. I was led to studying myself, patterns, habits, ways in which I showed up in the world but also the way in which I interacted with myself because I had grown tired of not being the best version of ME. I was sick of being told who I was supposed to be and buying into these fabricated social constructs! I was sick of feeling anything less than amazing in my own skin. My path to yoga started while incarcerated but even worse the imprisonment of isolation and alienation from my true self, a place we all can relate to one way or another. Seemingly trapped in the most difficult time of my life lonely, lacking confidence and disempowered, I had so much tension in my body that as I read laying down in my bed, every now and then I'd have conscious moments where I realized I was clenching my jaw or fists. I was rounding my shoulders to protect my heart and sucking in my belly in an attempt to be smaller than the 320 lbs person I was, even in the privacy of my own bed not allowing my body to breathe.
Yoga saved my life.
Yes, literally, I no longer found the dangerous and violent life style I was leading appealing anymore as my pain was replace with compassion, I lost over one hundred pounds and saw my blood pressure lower tremendously but also, yoga told me I was perfect just as I am, that I just needed to remove the obstacles obscuring my view. This ideology was empowering. Since then through yoga I've created strength, self-love, understanding, not just confidence but HOPE, true connection with the world around me! Yoga has completely transformed not just my physical self but the way in which I see the world, and because of that, the way in which the world sees me...
If asked how, I'd say it is because through Yoga we each have the ability to learn our edges, to realize how we relate with pain, balance, boundaries, where to apply effort and where to seek ease, certainly the skill of being present and able to just fucking relax. The systematic prcocess of Yoga has the potential to lead EVERYONE to a place of Self Realization and knowing who you are and where you're at, you can assess this entire world with the non-dual perspective Yoga provides, whether it be the physical self or your desires and values. With the understanding which comes from this we can begin to manifest our wildest dreams. Even just on our mat, possessing and cultivating the tools it takes to face challenge, we learn to see what we want, where we want to be, a vision is sparked, and believing in our ability to get there through breathing and going deeper, being more creative, fuller expression of asanas on the mat are achieved DIRECTLY effecting how we show up in the world and our ability to live victoriously meeting our goals and leaning into grace when we see it is time to let go.
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