Rising Through Resilience: Lily Allen-Duenas of Wild Yoga Tribe On The Five Things You Can Do To Become More Resilient During Turbulent Times

An Interview With Savio P. Clemente

Savio P. Clemente
Authority Magazine


Resilience is our ability to survive, thrive, and heal while being emotionally awake and alive. Resilient people aren’t passive or disengaged with life, but live a life aligned with their values with a heart wide open. Resilient people acknowledge the struggle, the messiness of their journey. They are honest about how difficult being human is! They have the ability to self-regulate, and are self-aware — which of course is a process. Something we have to work on every day. I also firmly believe that resilient people have a positive mindset, and work on eliminating limiting beliefs and unhealthy mental habits such as negative self-talk or self-sabotage inner monologues.

Resilience has been described as the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. Times are not easy now. How do we develop greater resilience to withstand the challenges that keep being thrown at us? In this interview series, we are talking to mental health experts, authors, resilience experts, coaches, and business leaders who can talk about how we can develop greater resilience to improve our lives.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lily Allen-Duenas.

Lily Allen-Duenas is an international yoga teacher, meditation guide, holistic healer, health and wellness coach. She helps overwhelmed individuals reduce their emotional overload, and find balance, breath, and space for self-care. Lily is the founder of the Wild Yoga Tribe and is the host of the Wild Yoga Tribe podcast, and she has taught yoga classes and wellness workshops all over the world.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?

I grew up in northern California, but have always been called to travel, learn, grow, and expand. I actually got into meditation at a young age, taking a week-long morning meditation course at a YMCA summer camp when I was twelve years old. I first found yoga when I was seventeen years old at a local gym, and I immediately felt like I was coming home. It felt as if I was doing something that I had forgotten, but was only now remembering. Yoga has always been a sanctuary for me, a safe haven, a place to come home to myself, my body, and my breath. After working in marketing management for seven years, I changed my life and became a nomadic yoga teacher and moved to a small island in Cambodia to teach yoga. I spent over two years moving from place to place, as both a student and as a teacher. I taught yoga at surf hostels in Sri Lanka, wellness centers in the Philippines, and at hotels in Bali. I also continued to take certifications and courses in Reiki, Thai massage, crystal healing, and more, as well as doing numerous meditation retreats and vipassana. COVID19 changed everything, and for now, I live in the north of France with my husband where I teach private yoga and meditation classes online and host the Wild Yoga Tribe podcast where I, metaphorically speaking, get to travel the world from my living room! Each week I speak to a yoga teacher from a different country around the world, and talk about their yoga philosophy, methodologies, and their path of yoga.

Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

There’s nothing more powerful than learning about your own mind — your own consciousness. My first SN Goenka Vipassana was a truly transformational experience. I felt like I was being knocked down, all the way down, figuring out who I was, how my mind functioned, what mental habits I had developed, and all these different layers that made up my thinking mind. Specifically, I watched what my mind craved in times of suffering and discomfort, and what my mind had extreme aversion to as well. If you’re unfamiliar with Vipassana, it is a 10-day silent meditation retreat that is extremely strict — there are no phones, books, pens, pencils, paper, technology, exercise, or even eye contact with other people. It is only you and your meditation cushion for 10 hours a day — starting at 4:15am. It’s this process of eliminating all external stimuli so that the only thing you can see is yourself and your mind in its truest form. There are no distractions. No place to hide. There is truly no escape. When all distractions and stimuli are removed, you’re able to see yourself with a whole new level of clarity. You’re stripped down to the barest and rawest form. It hurts. It’s painful. It is suffering. But through this journey of laying yourself bare, you’re able to develop a new way of seeing and understanding. I saw my desire to self-soothe, by coming up with incredibly imaginative stories that were complete and total illusions — — planning a wedding, solving problems in societies, strategizing ways to build a business….These were just my mind grasping at nothing in an attempt to escape my mind. When you only have you, your body, your breath and your thoughts — you try to still find a way to escape. It gave me a whole new level of compassion for others who struggle to meditate, to sit still for even 10 minutes at a time. I saw the gibbering mess of my mind and understood.

Henepola Gunaratana says, “Somewhere in this process, you will come face to face with the sudden and shocking realization that you are completely crazy. Your mind is a shrieking, gibbering madhouse on wheels barreling pell-mell down the hill, utterly out of control and hopeless. No problem. You are not crazier than you were yesterday. It has always been this way and you never noticed.”

I learned to see your thoughts not solid, not true, as lacking reality — which was liberating for me. It taught me that I don’t have to believe my thoughts. I am not my thoughts. My thoughts are wild, weird, and they’re completely and totally human. I just don’t have to grip them so tightly and believe they are true. I would say that my first Vipassana helped me to loosen the grip on my thoughts and to stop looking for an exit.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

The Wild Yoga Tribe is a community, a container, and a collaboration with yoga teachers around the world. The Wild Yoga Tribe’s mission is to shine a light on the global yoga ecosystem and all the interconnected aspects of the path of yoga while helping others on their paths of wellness and wholeness. The Wild Yoga Tribe is a community rich in diversity, curiosity, and heart-centered connection. Online and in-person workshops, courses, classes, and dharma talks focused on self-awareness, self-discovery, and self-expansion are hosted and organized around the world by the founder, Lily Allen-Duenas. (Me!)

Then, there’s the podcast! The purpose of the Wild Yoga Tribe podcast is to shine a light on the global yoga ecosystem. In each episode, Lily welcomes a guest onto the show from a different country. Her intention is to interview a yoga teacher from every country in the world! Lily and her guests have thoughtful, insightful, and authentic conversations, which serve as a catalyst for expansion and connection to the global yoga community.

What makes the Wild Yoga Tribe stand out? On a personal level, working once with a woman from Italy who had severe sciatica as well as personal and professional emotional burdens to work through, and watching her release her tension and find more space for compassion and kindness was one of my favorite moments as a teacher.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I am particularly grateful to James Miller, the founder of Adamantine Yoga in Des Moines, Iowa. When I was a student at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, he owned Treehouse Yoga (now closed), and I attended classes there four or five times a week. He taught “self-led” classes, which are where each student is working on their own sequence that James gives them individually. I had never practiced at a studio like that before where it wasn’t led normally, with a teacher giving cues to the entire classroom. Through my year spent under James Miller’s instruction, I came to love my personal practice and to understand my body at an entirely different level than I had before. I was twenty years old, and had practiced yoga once a week, or less regularly, for some time — but I had no sense of personal practice. James gave this gift to me.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?

Resilience is our ability to survive, thrive, and heal while being emotionally awake and alive. Resilient people aren’t passive or disengaged with life, but live a life aligned with their values with a heart wide open. Resilient people acknowledge the struggle, the messiness of their journey. They are honest about how difficult being human is! They have the ability to self-regulate, and are self-aware — which of course is a process. Something we have to work on every day. I also firmly believe that resilient people have a positive mindset, and work on eliminating limiting beliefs and unhealthy mental habits such as negative self-talk or self-sabotage inner monologues.

Courage is often likened to resilience. In your opinion how is courage both similar and different to resilience?

As Brene Brown articulates, “Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor — the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant ‘To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.’ Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds. But in my opinion, this definition fails to recognize the inner strength and level of commitment required for us to actually speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences — good and bad. Speaking from our hearts is what I think of as ‘ordinary courage.’” I also believe that speaking honestly, making the tough choice, not reacting instantly when we feel defensive, not lashing out with anger when we feel emotionally vulnerable with a loved one, these are all signs of courage. Letting go takes every ounce of strength and courage we have. Courage and resilience go hand in hand, as becoming resilient and making the choices to build resiliency takes great courage. In a way, I feel like becoming resilient is the byproduct of being brave and courageous on your inner personal journey of not running away from yourself, and working to build more compassion towards yourself and towards others.

When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?

There are phenomenal examples of incredibly resilient people and I know the goal of this question is to simply offer up one. I would like to offer up Glennon Doyle as someone I find to be tremendously resilient. After she hit rock bottom, she did the hard work of building herself back up again in a way that was in complete alignment with her values and her authentic self. She doesn’t cower from the darkness in her past, nor the darkness that can creep up in the periphery of her mind. She fully acknowledges that life is messy and that it takes courage, bravery, honesty, and vulnerability to do the work, the hard work, to become resilient.

Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?

When I was five years old, my dad told me that if I wanted to be an astronaut, I’d have to eat all my salmon. I never wanted to be an astronaut, but I ate all my salmon. Why? Because I hated the idea of having any opportunity taken away from me. Now as a vegan who never had a taste for seafood, I cringe a little — but the message still holds true for me. I don’t believe that anything is impossible, and I certainly don’t want to have any limiting beliefs getting in my way! I have been fortunate enough to have surrounded myself with people who don’t use the word “impossible” around me.

Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?

After a difficult breakup with a difficult man, I wanted nothing more than to grab my suitcase and run far, far away. Instead, I moved in with a friend and leaned into my emotions and my feelings. I did the work. I got as close as I possibly could to all that scary, uncomfortable, ugly emotions and stayed present. I tried my hardest not to escape from the experience. I knew that by understanding my mind and my emotions, I would become stronger, more compassionate, and more resilient. After a year of soul-searching and asking the universe what I should be doing with my life, the answer came one day in Savasana. I was called to be a yoga teacher to help others on their own journeys towards wellness and wholeness. Now, I do what I do! I’m an international yoga and meditation teacher and have taught classes around the world. I lead with compassion, and am honored to have the beautiful community that I have — the Wild Yoga Tribe!

How have you cultivated resilience throughout your life? Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?

Achilles had his heel. I had my knees. I had played soccer for 7 years competitively when my knees decided to give out. I had patella tendonitis and it hurt to walk. I spent the summer sitting on the sidelines of my team. I went to every game and every practice. Even though I couldn’t play, I still wanted to support my team. I did physical therapy and wasn’t able to play soccer for my last year of high school. Instead I joined the tennis team and didn’t let my own inner critic — my own loud voice of judgement, anger, self-blame or anything else drown out my gratitude. I could still play sports! Just not the sport I loved the most, but it wasn’t really about me. It was about the team, and I could still support my team and find a new one that I could actively contribute to. Later in life, in my 20s, I got in the habit of running a 5K every morning for a few years. One slippery February day in Iowa, I slid just a little bit while out for my morning run and all my knee mischief and trouble came roaring back to life. Once again, I had to readjust my routine, my healthy habits, and had to continue to find a way to honor what my body was telling me while persevering through the pain — creatively! I had to be honest with myself about what my body needed, and still find a way to cherish, honor, and celebrate it. With the help of physical therapy, acupuncture, and acupressure I still wasn’t able to run, but I was able to do weight-lifting and to hold my balancing asanas in yoga again. While these may seem like small stories, they taught me how to be resilient and how to be aware of my own strong propensity for negative self-talk and self-judgement, and how to overcome it.

Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Practice embodiment. Mindful movement practices, like yoga can be enormously healing and revealing towards our inner mental state, and about the tension we carry in our bodies. Our body keeps the score. Our body is home to memories, and to physical representations of our issues in our tissues. As Bessel van der Kolk writes in The Body Keeps The Score, “the memory of helplessness is stored is as muscle tension” and “when people are chronically angry or scared, constant muscle tension ultimately leads to spasms, back pain, migraine headaches, fibromyalgia, and other forms of chronic pain.” Through yoga, you can unlock these hidden memories or emotions that are buried deep inside your body and you can work on healing, releasing, and letting go.
  2. Develop an awareness of the brain’s self-protection mechanisms. Learn how your body reacts to the multitude of stresses and stimuli we are flooded with each day. A greater understanding of biology can be very soothing, and can prevent us from exaggerating our fears. Our biology plays a large role in how we react to situations. Our hormones can make decisions for us! Learning how the body works can save you loads of self-judgement and criticism. I recommend You’re a Miracle (and a Pain in the Ass): Embracing the Emotions, Habits, and Mystery That Make You You by Mike McHargue.
  3. Practice not running away from strong emotions. Practice staying put, and not seeking an escape route from yourself. Instead of grabbing your phone, turning on a binge-worthy series, or pouring yourself a glass of wine — be silent, be still. Listen and lean into your emotions. Really notice what you are feeling and where you are feeling it. Is it a tension in your chest? A twisting in your stomach? What are the sensations in the body? Then, look at your mind as a witness.
  4. Practice meditation. Meditate each day for just 10 minutes. Whether you are listening to your breath, or to a guided meditation on an app like Insight Timer, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you sit down each day and take 10 minutes for yourself. Cultivating this discipline, dedication, and devotion to building self-awareness and to honoring an act of self-care is vital for building resilience.
  5. While it seems to be an omnipresent truism, practice gratitude. My personal gratitude practice is listing three things each day that I am grateful for — whether it is the beauty of a sunrise, a beautiful conversation with the mailman, or a delicious dinner — acknowledging the small things and big things helps me to feel grounded in gratitude. Gratitude is the key for building up our reservoir of resilience.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

The movement I would love to inspire is the importance of not seeking escape routes from ourselves and our own emotions. Generally speaking, as a society, we are quick to run away from discomfort — especially when it is in our own mind. A moment of silence means a chance to answer an email or to watch a TikTok. By muting our minds and hiding from our feelings, we aren’t doing ourselves, or the world any favors. We are numbing ourselves to being alive, to being human. This gives me great sadness. I would love to shine a light on the importance of being present with yourself, and present with this moment!

We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them :-)

I would love to share a meal with Glennon Doyle. She’s profoundly resilient, intelligent, bold, and brave. I think we’d share a beautiful conversation together.

How can our readers further follow your work online?












This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!



Savio P. Clemente
Authority Magazine

TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor