1. How did you start practicing yoga? What was your early yoga experience like?
During the summers while I was in high school, I used to go to garage sales with my mom and dad, and during one of those outings, I found a little book called “Secrets of Yoga” by Natural Health. This was my first introduction to yoga. I became quickly aware of the benefits of quieting the mind and focusing (at this point to me) on just trying to contort my body in these different positions. I begun to make it a mission to find more garage sale items pertaining to yoga; enter Rodney Yee DVD. Through different DVDs I then began to experience a vinyasa style practice; really connecting each movement with each breath. While signing up for some of my first college courses, I noticed I could gain credits for learning about and practicing yoga, instant win. I was introduced to ancient texts, stories, benefits, and styles of yoga. These early experiences were stemmed through curiosity and interest in finding a way to keep my body fit. I fell in love with yoga. The differences I felt in my body when I practiced. The way I was able to let go of the world around me and drop into a safe space when I was on my mat. After two semesters, my yoga journey seemed to come to a halt, in which I just practiced a few poses here and there or a video now and again.
2. When did you get a sense that yoga was different, not just a way to be physical?
Two years ago, after driving by Breathe for months, I finally walked in! I instantly felt welcome and noticed that there was something more to this yoga thing. There were more to the classes at Breathe then just the physical asana practice. There were teachings, stories, words of wisdom, inspirational quotes, and community. There was an invitation to drop into the practice deeper, to really notice yourself, and accept what you found. Yoga then became a way of emotional healing for me.
3. What is your favorite yoga pose and what is your least favorite yoga pose? And why?
What a tough question! I feel like this answer changes based on where I am in my practice. Some days it’s child pose, some days it’s triangle (and then some days triangle is the worst!) Right now I’m having a lot of fun with Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana (Revolved Half Moon). Balancing in such a way has taught me patience and an appreciation for my own strength. It’s a pose that has allowed me to really feel the energy move in my body, spreading it throughout my limbs while harnessing some through the midline to stay balanced as you twist. Learning to embrace a softness in the midst of exuding strength has really enabled me to understand the idea of sthira and sukha: steadiness and ease. It’s helped me realize the importance of harnessing opposing energies to find a balance both on and off the mat.
4. In what way does your yoga practice most impact your daily life?
Yoga allows me to quiet my mind. It’s a space and time for me to let go of what’s weighing me down and gain the strength I need to continue on.
Yoga is like a form of life support.
5. This month at Breathe we are focusing on asteya (non-stealing), the third yama (restraint or inner observance), of the eight limb path of yoga. How do you experience/practice asteya on your yoga mat, in your teaching, and in daily life?
In all three of these situations I try to avoid stealing any value from the time we have. While on my mat I make it a point to let go of judgement and show myself compassion, turn inwards and dial in on what I’m feeling in my body as my movement connects with my breath. In my teaching, I make sure I’m present and able to provide a space that supports an atmosphere of self exploration and appreciation of the moment. In daily life I try to avoid common distractions and find a way to connect with nature and the people that I encounter.
6. What is a fun fact about you that not many people know?
I grew up in a Dairy Queen! My parents owned two of them when I was younger, and my sister and I spent countless hours there and this accounts for my undying love of ice cream!
7. Tell us something about teaching at Breathe.
Breathe is a studio that cultivates a loving and nurturing environment that honors each individual’s own practice. For me, Breathe has become my yoga home, a community that has supported me the past two years, and I am eager to give back to the Breathe community in the same way.