Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Iris Lambert: Living the Life of a Free Spirit in Tropical Places

I never got to know yoga teacher/singer/massage therapist Iris Lambert when she lived in Ashland, Oregon but started to pay attention to her when I read her Facebook posts describing travels to Thailand, Hawaii, Mexico and Costa Rica-- all places that figure in my own travel fantasies.

I am always interested in knowing more about the lives of older people who are led by a sense of adventure, creativity and attention to health and spirit. I sensed that Iris Lambert had something worthwhile to share about living light and free.

I spoke with Iris by phone recently from her home in the Virgin Islands where she moved from Ashland in 2007 in order to be in a warmer climate. Our conversation began this way. "In 1998 my kids were grown. I needed to get the wind in my sails again. So I started traveling to teach yoga. I went to places 4-6 hours away from Ashland to do weekend seminars, but I found it was too hard on my body to do it that way. I was looking for another way. Originally, I went down to the Virgin Islands to visit my daughter."

She seems to have found a good home base at least for now. "I feel comfortable in my skin down here," she said. She told me that looking out her window, she could see a group of men playing dominoes next to the store. "White people are a minority here," she said. "The native people came here from slave boats. But there really is not much racism here."

The connections Iris made when she was doing her yoga workshops in the US led to international contacts. When she went to Thailand with Ashland massage therapist Dvora Schwarzman to study Thai massage, Iris met a man who invited her to teach yoga in Mexico and she was off on her tropical journey.

I loved talking to her about some of the details of her life. Like me she is a hippie at heart and had many counterculture adventures including living in a teepee in Hawaii. She also got an M.A. in education and homeschooled her two daughters. "I was a single mother," she said, "I did everything for everybody. I had to unlearn that."

With her daughters grown, she was ready for a fresh start in a new stage of life. "When I went to Thailand I wanted to let go of knowing anything," she said. "I wanted to get back to zero."

I decided to check in with some of Iris' friends to see what they had to say. They reminded me that Iris, who is usually called Irie, had formed a choir called Freedom Singers while she was in Ashland in addition to teaching yoga here.

Shari Kalb met Iris in 1978 in Santa Cruz. Shari told me, "I was involved in the Freedom Singers. Iris is a wonderful singer and choir director. We sang inspirational songs and songs of the spirit. I experience Iris as always being positive and looking at the bright side of things."

Another friend, Lindea Kirschner, painted a beautiful and full portrait. "I've known Irie since 1981. Irie is an amazing soul, a true free spirit. She's gifted with many talents and loves using them and sharing them with those around her. She's a true healer, songstress, gardener, yogini, masseuse, world traveler - and excels at whatever she does. She's even great on the computer, creating her own websites and fliers. What a beautiful lifestyle she has, living in the moment and listening to Spirit.

When Irie is in town, one of our favorite things to do is go to Wellsprings and soak in the healing waters, sun and sauna. She really knows how to take care of herself through her healing diet and lifestyle.

Her approach to aging is living a simple, healthy life with lots of adventure, happiness and newness. It really keeps her young at heart and her wise spirit just shines through. She's good at staying in touch with friends, so she's has many places she can call home during her travels. Irie is a gem!"

There's much more to know about Iris Lambert, who is such a great example of creative aging, wellness and spirit. I hope I have a chance to hang out in the mineral springs at Wellsprings with her next time she returns to visit Ashland. Or maybe study with her in the Virgin Islands! If you want to know more about how to study with her there or how to ask her to visit your locale, visit her Website

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