Yoga + Law

On June 7th, 2021, Professor Craig Smith interviewed me with only three questions :

1. What can you tell me that I don’t already know from reading about you?

2. What are my expectations of Law School?

3. What does Yoga have to do with Law?

The first two were relatively easy to answer though not very revelatory. Question #3 was where he wanted to dig in, though. This is the question I had been asking myself, too, because seriously, why would I choose to enter Law School at age 42 after more than two decades of being immersed in the world of Natural Healing Arts?

My succinct answer was:

Of the many definitions that Yoga is, the one I refer to most often is “Yoga is Relationship.” Yoga is our relationship to EVERYTHING: the trees, the fish, the mountains, the stars, each other, our selves and all the spaces in between.

Of the many definitions that Law is, the one I refer to is “Law is a set of rules (boundaries) decided (chosen) by a particular place or authority meant for the purpose of keeping the peace and security of society (safe spaces).

It is my intent to bring my appreciation of Yoga as “mutually empowering relationships” into the field of Law as a means of participating in the creation of boundaries chosen to protect safe spaces as defined by the majority of citizens.

I view the Law as Yoga on a collective level seeking to support, harmonize and facilitate the rights and needs of all living creatures.

It’s that simple.

And, I really believe I was born to do this.

Below, please read more about why I believe I was born to practice The Healing Art of Law in my Personal Letter to the Santa Barbara and Ventura Colleges of Law School :

“Technically, I’ve attended law school already.

I was born the day my Mother graduated from Indiana University School of Law in 1979, one of the only women in her class. Her professor said she took up the space of a man. Dare I say, I was born with a deep need for justice that I imagine my Mother feeling.

At age eight, my Father said, ”Why do you think Life will be fair to you? It’s not!” I was devastated. So, I wrote myself a certificate saying, “This Certifies Amy Bankoff’s Life Will Be Fair.” I signed it by our Arizona State Governor Rose Moffard.

My Mother reminded me of this recently because the world can still seem anything but fair. I feel that goodness always prevails, even if we lose sometimes. Real winning is a long-view perspective only a few are courageous enough to seek. My need for justice and fairness burns in me. This is why I am applying to the College of Law.

I know believing in justice and working to achieve it are different. Many of my family and friends are lifelong activists, philanthropists, teachers and volunteers. I feel my time to speak up and do more has come.

I watched my Mother begin a family law practice when I was young to help in divorces that were difficult and harmful for children. She then worked for the State of Arizona’s Child Protective Services, and was called back from retirement as a judge for the Department of Economic Security to help during the pandemic.

My parents are the most amazing humans I know. What my Mother’s law degree has assisted me with during my life continues to make the most significant contribution. Her expertise in crucial, subtle areas of law has shaped our lives significantly.

As a teenager, I rejected my parents, a doctor and lawyer. After graduating from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism in 2001, I moved to New Zealand.

At 22 years old, I obtained permanent residency by acquiring a job offer at a Public Relations firm in Auckland, and birthed my two children in 2005 and 2007 at our home in Glenbervie, New Zealand. In 2012, I returned with my children to the United States.

I’ve always been hard-working, organized, and motivated to win. My decision to ensure my life was dedicated to being of service to others was anchored in 1998, after a near death experience. I was eighteen.

Here are some of my major life events:

~ From 14-21 years-old, I was a top-ranked professional equestrian travelling nationally up to 48 weeks per year for competitive show-jumping, winning the $10,000 Gran Prix of Scottsdale in 1997.

~ At 22 years-old, I began the Northland Longboard Classic, a surf competition that continues today on the national New Zealand circuit.

~ At 25, I became Mother to my son, and opened The Revolution Centre, a natural health clinic that served more than 5000 people in the Northlamd, New Zealand community for five years.

~ At 27, I became Mother to my daughter.

~ At 32, I became an international Yoga Teacher Trainer, and global project manager of Heart of Yoga’s media and Fiji Retreat Center.

~ At 34, I became a Wellness Advocate for Doterra and the Project Manager of Urban Family Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing yoga education and support to underserved communities.

~ At 37, I created the Fiji Spirit Gathering to implement regenerative farming practices and healthcare education for the people of Taveuni, Fiji. I created Urban Family’s Online Teacher Training program and a partnership with the Black Yoga Teachers Alliance to bring the program Yoga As A Peace Practice into black communities.

~ At 38, I founded Love 2B Here, a collective of global teachers and activists dedicated to providing scientifically proven therapeutic practices.

~ At 39, I began volunteering at Santa Barbara’s Mental Wellness Center.

My decision to enter law school at 42 years-old feels purposeful because I have energy that deserves to be channeled by serving on a greater level.

I want to pursue advocacy in environmental, women’s, gender, LGBTQ, family, and healthcare law, specifically to build mental health crisis and residential facilities for adolescents in Santa Barbara county. I believe this must be done, and these areas overlap in significant ways. I want to help protect natural, open spaces, re-allocate community resources, and raise non-profit funds to create community centers for our youth in Santa Barbara county where my two children and I have lived since 2016.

As a yoga practitioner since 1999, I’ve developed many personal tools to ease conflicts in my personal and professional life. There is a definition of yoga that says “Yoga is to move with continuity in your chosen direction.” I realize very deeply now that conflict exists on many levels in many ways. I feel my time in yoga and natural healthcare practices is not enough anymore. In my heart, the conflicts I have been presented with in my life demand a greater response. I choose the direction of law because I believe it will fuel my life’s journey, my purpose, and my powers to be of service, in action. This is my yoga.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu is a Sanskrit mantra which means: “May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and freedom for all.”

I believe the pursuit of law is my yogic path. I believe our current situation demands actions that have not been taken yet. Yoga teaches that each person has unique gifts only they possess. Siddhis, spontaneous powers, are known to arise. I believe the way each of us wields our powers creates our karma, our destiny, and by attending Santa Barbara’s College of Law I will develop the wisdom I seek to serve justice and fairness for all.

I really was born for this.

~ Amy Bankoff”