1) How did you first get introduced to yoga?
Actually, I think my first experience was a complete disaster, lol. I unknowingly signed up for what ended up being a very advanced class at the Chelsea Piers, and was completely out of my depth. Thankfully, I wasn't completely turned off because a few months later I joined a friend for his regular class at the Integral Yoga Institute on 13th Street. THAT experience was much more nurturing, and the vibe of Integral Yoga drew me in right away.
2) What style(s) of yoga do you currently practice and/or teach?
Following my early training at Integral Yoga, I spent about 6-7 years studying the Anusara method. Though both styles have informed me deeply as a teacher, I'd say my current classes reflect the varied forms of Hatha yoga and movement I've been exploring, such as Feldenkrais, Yin, Vinyasa, etc., and the teachers I study with, at studios across this fair city (YogaWorks, Virayoga, MindBodySoul, Bread and Yoga). To answer that more directly, I teach Hatha. ;)
3) How did you get introduced to the Lineage Project?
I came across an online article that referenced Lineage Project, so I looked them up and signed up for a training. I was determined to offer yoga to people outside of traditional studio settings, who may not know about, or have access to, practices that bring you deep into the center of yourself.
4) Can you speak a bit about the impact you've seen in your Lineage students?
“We consider being 'in parallel, present, patient, and persistent' to be a helpful, powerful teaching intention!"
This is a quote from Dr. Bruce Perry, who I've had the privilege to learn from, and whose work with children in trauma and at-risk youth has deeply informed how I approach my own work with Lineage students. Holding this intention means n
ot crossing intimacy boundaries (staying 'in parallel' with them), and letting them have just the right amount of control, which, over time builds trust. Then the real impact shows up as they begin to trust the process and their own experiences of yoga and meditation.
I've had students say that a "great weight" was lifted from their shoulders, or that they had been struggling with anger and later felt able to control it or let it go all together. I've also heard students talk about bringing the physical, breathing and relaxation practices back home, and teaching a parent or loved one. That's one of the coolest things to hear!
In addition, in a survey done at one of our public high schools (a transfer school where I've been teaching for 4 years), the students answered as follows:
1.Does yoga and meditation improve your self esteem?
72% said some or most of the time
2.Does yoga help you manage stress in school and life? 78% said some or most of the time
3.Does yoga help you to solve conflict more effectively?
67% said some or most of the time
5) What 3 teachers/mentors have had the greatest impact on your yoga practice?
My original Anusara teachers, Eric Stoneberg and Julie Dohrman, had a big influence on my earliest understanding of Tantric philosophy and alignment-based hatha yoga. Beyond those early days of training, there have been many more phenomenal teachers along this path, who I've gleaned guidance from, either philosophically, emotionally, or physically. Here are just a few: Jason Crandell, Elena Brower, Jeanmarie Paolillo, Ellen Saltonstall, Sally Kempton, and Catherine Ingram.
6) Where is your favorite place in the world to practice yoga or go on retreat?
I led a retreat to Costa Rica in 2013. We retreated to the incredible Osa Peninsula, which offers a beautiful combination of in-your-face nature (monkeys playing tag on the roof of our yoga deck!) and remote serenity. I also LOVE Kripalu Center, in the Berkshires. The powerful intention to provide space for healing and transformation is really palpable there.
7) If you could give one piece of advice to yoga practitioners everywhere what would it be?
Make your practice your own. Ultimately, it's a personal journey to your own beautiful heart and soul, so be curious and diligent enough to seek out teachers that inspire, challenge and uplift you. Be wary of those that offer one-size-fits-all "prescriptions," or absolute truths. I believe that the questions are infinitely more interesting than the answers, and any good teacher should encourage questioning and curiosity.
8) Where, who or what is next for you on your personal yoga journey?
I'd like to formally study Yin and restorative yoga, as well as continue to deepen my own meditation practice. I still have much to learn about working with youth, so I'm committed to further developing my skills as a classroom teacher, becoming more "trauma-informed," and creating the safest space for young people to learn, transform, and ultimately empower themselves.
9) Fave yoga pose and why?
Handstand! I'm still trying to "stick it" away from the wall, but either way, I love the thrill and energizing effect of turning the world upside down.
10) Give your definition of Yoga in 140 characters or less.
True Yogis, on or off their mats, are those who recognize and celebrate the simple and amazing gift of being, within themselves and others.