The Journey So Far
Betsey Downing, Ph.D., has been a yoga practitioner and meditator for over 45 years. Her teaching is a synergy of her core practices of meditation, pranayama, and asana. It is informed by decades of study of yoga and philosophical texts, writing, reflection, and personal growth work. Her teaching comes from a deep well of wisdom and practical knowledge, developed from these practices.
Betsey’s spiritual path, however, actually began around age 9, when she had her first mystical experience. She saw herself lying on her deathbed, and a kindly voice asked, “When you are on your deathbed, what will have mattered in life?” That question has been in the background of her life ever since …
Betsey was also a Volunteer Climate Leader through the Climate Reality Project, has lobbied Congress for a fee on carbon through the Citizens Climate Lobby, and worked with the local chapter of 350.org. She also participated in local Extinction Rebellion actions. Betsey’s intention is to help facilitate an awakening to the unprecedented climate emergency we’re in, and the imperative of a WW II-type climate mobilization to avert the worst of possible scenarios for our future.
After obtaining a masters degree in Urban Education (Simmons College, Boston) and student teaching in the Boston city schools, Betsey worked for Action for Boston Community Development in an after-school work program for inner-city youth. She also tutored in an after-school program through The Bridge in Dorchester, MA.
Betsey holds a Ph.D. in Sport Psychology from the University of Virginia. She taught at the Federal Executive Institute in Charlottesville, VA, and directed the Wellness Program there.
Betsey began teaching yoga at the encouragement of her first teacher, Joel Zimmerman. She also studied asana and Jnana Yoga with Joel Kramer, and meditation with Swami Muktananda. Betsey received Shaktipat Initiation from Muktananda in the mid-70’s, and also her spiritual name, Taramati, “Mother who takes you across the ocean of illusion”. She has been contemplating how to grow into her name ever since. In addition, Betsey attended workshops and teacher trainings in Sivananda Yoga, studied Iyengar yoga for 20 years, and then began Anusara yoga, becoming one of the first certified teachers in 1999.
In the mid-70’s Betsey began teaching full-time and has owned several yoga studios over the years. She was the founder and director of Garden of the Heart Yoga Center in Sarasota, FL, for 8 years, and the Health Advantage Yoga Center in Herndon, VA, before that. She regards the efficacy of practice to be revealed by how we bring our spirituality into daily life: increasing our awareness, compassion, and equanimity, learning to respond rather than react to life events.
Betsey endeavors to walk the mystical path with practical steps. Her passion now is exploring how we can evolve ourselves to create the Highest Good for All Life.
She is profoundly grateful to have studied with excellent teachers over the years, all of whom touched her in different ways; most influential have been Jean Houston, Lee Harris, Swami Muktananda, Richard Rudd, Douglas Brooks and John Friend.
Betsey gives a deep bow of appreciation to the many people in her life who have believed in her, challenged her, and guided her toward her own empowerment.