Who is Selena Isles ?
I’m Selena. My friends call me Sal.
I’m Selena. My friends call me Sal.
I am a Yoga professional, woman of colour, “Tha Legendary” DJ Seriousblack, former monk and mother.
After 25 years teaching, I still refer to myself as a student.
I am from Montreal (Quebec, Canada) via Trinidad, et oui je parle francais. I am the daughter of a black man and an east Indian desi/venezuelan woman, we are from Trinidad. I am a 70’s kid, I am an Aquarius.
Trinidad made me, Montreal, Toronto and Brooklyn raised me.
Yoga made its presence in my life in via my mother and because of a traumatic injury that ended my successful athletic career, in 1995/6. I went from rising track star to “has been”. I spiralled into self despair, depression and negative self image, losing scholarships, friends and everything that I “thought” I was. Yoga helped me decolonize and love myself.
I used to think yoga was something my mom did to keep cool, calm and collected in the face of me and my sister. However this experience forced me to rewrite my whole story, and what I had believed to be true of myself. I experienced a lot of violence because of my race and culture. The very things I was made fun of for later became the tools for my liberation. I came to understand my mother and my mother’s hands through my roots.
In essence before Brene Brown coined the term, I had to lean into the hard stuff and touch the face of vulnerability. I found Tantric Buddhism (again, first time at 13) around this time and it lifted me slowly out of depression and I vowed at 19, to commit myself to some sort of path, to “surrender”; so naturally moving across the globe made A LOT OF SENSE.
When I finally got to Thailand, I had no “real” practice other than the asana and meditation I practiced at home. I was a fish out of water. I had to learn to lean in again and be vulnerable, to face my own boogeyman of fear to become intimate with fear and surrender – this would be the first of many (many); times I would have to learn this lesson. This was 1999.
My time spent with the monks on Wat Suan Moh and my host family threw my yoga connotations out the window as we practiced NO ASANA , only mediation, silence, Tantra and Karma/Bhakti.
PS; I also taught at a Thai collage – once a teacher always a teacher.
This “surrender” dismantled me from the inside out – meditation and mantra; hours of it on the cold temple floors did the rest. When we did touch asana I was astounded at the simplicity of the practice. I was taken by the surrender and how hard it is to actually do so. I learned the original asana that Shiva stated were “appropriate” for “men” to learn in this age.
I believed stillness would uncover everything there was to know, and so I practiced and studied asana according to the Hatha Pradipika; committed myself fully to the Nath Tradition, as well as meditation in silence and stillness; until I could no longer trace the lines of fluidity within. It was strict and I was in my 20’s not the best cocktail for success and yet; it was around that time that I started to link the poses to breath, avidly reading and studying. I needed to move again and started to practice Ashtanga Vinyasa Krama, and then it all clicked, as I was later initiated in the lineage of Sri Vidya.
Many years, lessons, teachings and various extraordinary and heartbreaking experiences later; I developed a semblance of a self – nobody dispersed in various some-bodies.
My practice integrates the breath based flow of Ashtanga Vinyasa Krama, the sun/moon precision of Hatha, and an embodied connection to self realization, into a deep integrative self realised experience, all the while dropping ancient texts, vedanta, Ayurveda; the wisdom OF my ancestors, using my language of hip hop vernacular and humour.
A heart driven movement.
To experience yoga is to take a journey from birth till death, weaving all the branches of yoga into a seamless voluntary experience of life.
And that is the simple secret to my practice, dismantling the threads or sutras of the ancients and bringing it to everyone.
Since 2012, the focus of my teaching has been, surrender, nidra, meditation, self-empowerment, sankalpa (intention), nature as the teacher, the goddess and self-inquiry.
Tantra, the householders practice
I believe strongly in yoga for everybody and all bodies, and so my practices develop and emanate from a budding mind of wonder all juxtaposed against movement and meditation.
During my journey of teaching I have manifested myself all over the world. My writings and articles have been featured in Yoga Journal, Yoga International , Elle Quebec and In Style Magazine. I have taught in various Wanderlust Festivals, led the Lole White Tour 3x, Taos Mountain Yoga Festival, Osheaga, B Corp Summits. I have appeared on Fox News, CBC, BBC Earth, worked with athletes and artists from the Montreal Canadians to the Alouettes to Post Malone, Chronixx, Florence and the Machine, Jack Harlow and Dua Lipa. I have crossed the globe bringing yoga and meditation to anyone and everyone from corporations like Evenko to Sunlife to Reebok,Burt’s Bees, Just For Laughs McGill University and McCarthy Tetrault
In 2017, I was named the first Global BIPOC Brand Ambassador for Lole; I retired from this position in 2020.
In 2020, and after 20 years, in a highly intentional response to the Global Pandemic and Breonna Taylor massacre, George Floyd and Black Lives Matter; my longtime friend and business partner Laurraine Leblanc and I, birthed Legendary Yoga & Wellness; in our commitment to reclaim our right to breathe, to exist and to rest ;developing a legendary mindset one breath at a time.
Being a mother and DJ producing, touring and teaching all year round; I am in deep need of my own practice; it healed my broken body and mind two decades ago and now keeps my soul intact on a daily basis.
I spend my time mommying, embracing the chaos of life, loving my husband Frank, teaching, training, speaking, writing and making music between Montreal, LA, Brasil, New York and Europe.
I hope you understand that none of this would have been possible, without my mother Helena Nagee she moved heaven and earth more than once, and if I did not KNOW that I stand on the shoulders of giants, I am here because they were first, paving the way for the privileges I have now. Everything I am is because they made it so.
Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha!
A yoga practitioner in the Hatha yoga tradition, co Founder of Legendary Yoga & Wellness , E-RYT 500, Certified Yoga Therapist (C-IAYT), she runs 200/500 Yoga Trainings. She has more than seven years of Meditation, Ayurveda, Hatha Yoga and Ashtanga Vinyasa training from masters in India as well as 500 hour Ayurvedic Certification from Kerala.
300 Hour Embody Yoga’s Roots, Ignite Yoga & Wellness Institute, 2021
Empowerment Wisdom, Chanti Turcotte Perez & Tracee Stanley, 2021
285 Hour Masters of Wisdom and Meditation, Davidji 2020
100 Hour Tantra Sri Vidya Meditation, Tracee Stanley 2020
50 Hour Blissology Superflow, Blissology Eoin Finn 2020
100 Hour Commit To Bliss Training, Blissology Eoin Finn 2020
500 Hour Ashtanga Yoga; Jamie Lee 2018
Anatomy and Yoga Therapeutics; Martin Kirk, 2016
100 Hour Advanced Vinyasa Flow, MazeYoga, 2016
100 Hour Core Strength Vinyasa Method, Saide Nardini, 2015
500 Hour Mark Stephens Yoga, 2014
200 Hour Hatha Yoga Teacher Training, HappyTree Yoga, 2012-2013
40 Hour Yin Yoga Training, Melanie Richards & Albert Bissada, 2012
300 Hour Kriya Yoga, Self Realization Fellowship, 2009 – 2015
100 Hour Vinyasa Krama, Srivatsa Ramaswami, 2011
125 Hour Pre Natal Yoga Training, Janice Clairfield, 2010
500+ hours of miscellaneous workshops and training on topics such as anatomy, meditation, yoga, pranayama and philosophy with teachers Tracee Stanley, Davidji, Albert Bissada, Donna Fahri, Natalie Rousseau, Melanie Richards, Barrie Riseman, Gita Iyengar, Carina Risman, Eddie Stern, Steve Sims, Jamie Lee, Richard Miller, Sadie Nardini, Eoin Finn, Mark Stephens and Noah Maze.
Selena’s teachings are completely aligned with her personality. Her classes are clear, present and focused she presents this age old wisdom in the easiest way for anyone ( adult to child) to understand. She uses language that is easily transferable to our bodies and head space, amazingly she gets us out of heads and into our bodies quickly. She structures her practices in such a way that we are often in the middle of a very difficult pose before she says guess what guys you’ve now found yourselves in the midst of a AHA moment! Run with it. The emotional, spiritual and mental releases I’ve felt while studying with her beyond what I ever thought the first time I took her class. Her warmth, easy smile coupled with a razor sharp intelligence is astounding. Not to mention her sense of humour is contagious both on the mat and off.Darlene DicksonArmed Guard
No biography would be complete without mentioning that Selena was a high school teacher for 14 years teaching in some of the roughest schools at English Montreal School Board in Montreal. She has worked as a mediator for the city of Montreal/Sud Ouest, and she is the co founder of Desta The Black Youth Network, in Little Burgundy and the Urban Ambush/Walsh Skate Camp in NDG. She has been a social justice advocate and anti racism lecturer and facilitator.
She credits her diverse and dynamic background helping to prepare her to teach so efficiently, offering clear, calm focused awareness and dynamic practices both on the mat and off. She brings years of teaching and garnering the ability to explain asana and philosophy in various ways that everyone can grasp immediately. On top of this she also holds a Master’s Degree in Cultural Anthropology and Post doctorate in Physical and Biological Anthropology.
For over two decades Selena is also recognized by her other craft; international DJ and producer, “Tha Legendary” DJ Seriousblack. In 2015 she was signed to the influential Black Swan Sounds Records and released her first album END TRANSMISSION with them, followed by the Funky Tropical in 2016. She has 5 other independent releases prior to signing with Black Swan Sounds. In 2019, she signed to South African label Bush Doctor Recordings, in 2020 she joined the Living Legends Label.
Since 2013 she has been a featured performer in festivals such as Wanderlust, Wellspring, Tadasana, Lole White Tour, Taos Mountain Yoga, PEACEFEST and Hanuman Festival. She has also been featured at The Montreal Jazz Festival, Full MOON Festival in Thailand, Osheaga, SXSW, Coachella, Delicious Festival, Who’s next in Paris, Its Time to Bloom Tour and Under Pressure in Montreal since 2010.
She has had the pleasure of being featured and performing alongside opening for acts like DJ Drez and MC Yogi, Karsh Kale, Micheal Franti, Florence and the Machine, The Roots, Garth Stevenson and Thievery Corporation. She has provided the sound space for top yogis such Faith Hunter, Chelsey Korus,Eoin Finn, Light Watkins, Davidji, Derek Cooke, Dani Pompulun, Donavon McGrath AMPLIFY, Bri Smith, Elena Brower, Mary Beth LaRue, Noah Maze, Schuyler Grant, Carolyn Budgell, Crystal Rainbow Borelli, Bram Levinson, Melanie Richards, Sadie Nardini and hosts of others.