Yes, You Can! 7 Strategies to Empower, Evolve, and Transform Your Life: Part 4

Yes You Can! Part 4-Passion: Finding Your Authentic Self

October 11, 2016   |     West Now Home

By Linda Garza Kalaf

The content herein is that of the author and does not reflect the position or opinion of Western International University (West). This article is shared with the West community through our collaboration with Prospanica (previously known as the National Society of Hispanic MBAs), Phoenix Chapter.

Part 4 - Passion: Finding Your Authentic Self 

Highlight: This article includes the activities, Life Balance and Life Wheel. Life is a balancing act; let’s find out where you may be out of balance.

Life is amazing. It was during one of my Life Time Fitness Yoga classes that I learned about authentic living from instructor Austin Vickers. It was September 2005, and I recall thinking, OK, I just finished six months of boot camp, I need to find some group classes to maintain my weight goal. I ventured into a Yoga class. Austin’s classes were always extremely popular—packed with enthusiastic Yogis. I quickly found out we were not only receiving a Yoga class, we were also receiving a class on life, on philosophy—Austin-style. Every class had a theme. It was as if I was going to a personal and professional development class while practicing Yoga.

In one class, Austin asked the Yogis to ponder the question, “Who am I?” In another class, he asked, “What are your values?” and “Are you being true to your values?” It was then, during one of our poses where the body and emotions open up, that I felt a flow of emotion; an outpouring of tears—and I realized I was not being true to my values. It was at that moment in April 2006 that I realized it was time for a change in my professional career.

That Yoga class changed my life. Although some people may fear Yoga as something religious, it helped me reflect and clarify what was important and what mattered most in my life. Yoga allowed me to explore the inner journey that is unique to each practitioner. What I realized is that the first step to change is self-awareness. This increased self-awareness has led me on the path to finding my true authentic self, in harmony and alignment with my values.  

My personal experience with Yoga has been profound, as it has been a personal journey of discovery. In combining the excellence of philosophy and my spiritual beliefs, I truly believe Yoga changed my life for the better. In every class, I learn something new about my mind, body and spirit. From every instructor, I gain a new perspective and closer look at my own self-awareness. As one instructor, Marie, mentioned, “Yogis are the scientists of the mind.” She also stated, “We must surrender; accept ourselves; and be present.” I have learned so much from practicing Yoga; I wish I had a pen and pad of paper during class to take notes—the classes are that compelling and moving.

The discipline of Yoga aims to transform both body and mind. And it was at that time, during Austin’s class, that I started opening my heart and really taking a look at the inside—the emotions and the feelings that opened during Yoga practice. Making the connection between the body and mind, as well as the body and breathing, were life-changing. Learning to listen to my body when it’s still and allowing myself that quiet time makes a difference.

Austin also referred to a personal leadership program that he created, Stepping Up to a Life of Vision, Passion and Authentic Power. This program includes an experiential guide that enhanced my transformation from the inside out. I believe one must look internally and do a lot of self-assessment in order to determine what’s inside their core being and what is their true essence—their true being.

When Austin asked, “What are your values?”, I was ready to explore and look for something greater than me. This meant doing some soul searching. Not only did my practice with Yoga become regular and consistent, my eyes were opening to new opportunities, adventures, and I was ready to “step up” to the next level of consciousness—and to actually step into my life with vision, passion and authentic power.

This was a very important part of my journey and evolution. I believe that life is a circle, as there is also a continuous movement and flow to living. There is a process. When we become aware and enlightened, we learn and grow, we improve and evolve. It’s a continuous process.

“What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.”


The Life Time Fitness Whole-Life Coaching workshop that I experienced and a whole-life approach to living helped me see clearly what my values are, and crystallized my vision and plans for the future.

The Whole-Life Coaching values activities, referenced in part 1 of this series, anchored my course of action and enhanced my ability to make effective and well-thought-out decisions, enabling me to move forward. It was a pivotal point, an “aha” moment. Being aware of my past, people, places and events that influenced my life, leading up to the present moment, has provided multiple opportunities to evaluate, assess and reflect on valuable lessons learned and determine what matters to me, thus enabling introspection as to what I truly value. Taking the time to identify my values, which ultimately led me to living by them, was a major turning point in my life.

I remember thinking of Austin’s Yoga classes, and the dots were beginning to connect. This was part of life’s journey and evolution in which I was beginning to see a much clearer picture and vision for my life. Living a whole-life of authenticity: What a concept, what a journey! With this awareness, it was up to me to step through the door that Austin had opened, the awakening and understanding I was seeking through Yoga.

Austin went on to produce a film, the “People v. the State of Illusion.” The film is about opening your mind to a new imagination, and a new perception as to what is possible in your life.

ActivityLife Balance and Life Wheel

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Look for Part 5 — Transformation: The Evolution of Wellness and Wholeness Equals Lifestyle Changes — to post soon. Watch our West Facebook page, or visit for our latest posts.

Read more of our 7-part series:


Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Linda Garza Kalaf, MAOM, SHRM-SCP, SPHR, GPHR, is a Human Resources professional with over 30-years of experience in the airline and ground transportation industries and is a Society for Human Resource Management Senior Certified Professional and Global Professional in Human Resources. She has a steadfast belief in supporting the community and has served on local, state and national boards related to diversity & inclusion, education, leadership and mentoring, including the National Society of Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA) (now known as Prospanica). She was one of the NSHMBA Phoenix Chapter’s founding members and chapter president, and went on to serve as the national vice chair. She was inducted into the NSHMBA Executive Circle in 1998 for continuous service on the local and national levels. Her mission is to help others with their personal and professional development in order to reach their full potential.

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