Aside from yoga, my next great love is skiing. It was the catalyst for my journey to this beautiful state that now feels like home in my bones. Hiking up mountains and the flow of charging down them are some of the most satisfying and thrilling experiences of my life. I live for the quiet moment right before dropping into a new run, the high quality of attention that the mountains demand, face-shots, deep powder and the speed that comes from my powerful legs. Backcountry ski days turn me on!
I also love to cook, hike, bike, read (almost always about yoga, anatomy, food, Buddhism or another related topic), listen to music, learn new activities (last year I learned to snowboard, paddleboard and surf), travel and spend time with my friends, my family, my partner, Eric, and our dog, Cola.
Today my favorite pose is anything with lotus. Lotus, Lotus in Handstand, Lotus with Cobra over the roll, Shoulder Stand with Lotus and any other variation. It has taken me twenty-six years to fold my legs in this crazy way and doing it for even one breath delights me. Yesterday, by myself, I folded my legs into lotus while in handstand for the very first time and then fell out immediately because I was so surprised!
Lotus represents a lot of quit points, triggers and wins for me and is ripe for my exploration. For so long I would beat myself up about not being able to get my legs to cross and fold, even half lotus was excruciating and my attitude was “whatever… my hips are never going to open.” Something switched, I started practicing in a way that fed my hips rather than putting them down. I now practice in a way that isn’t attached to outcome rather I’m more curious about feeling, what’s going on there? There are days when full lotus isn’t happening for my body or where my attitude goes back to that old habitual thinking, “my hips aren’t good enough, my feet hurt, my ankles are tight wah wah wah…” On those days I congratulate myself for catching it and then I go into feeling because feeling deeply IS a habit I want to strengthen.
My teachers inspire me to teach. It’s called sharing the merit. When I feel the positive effects of my own practice or experience I then hope that others may feel it too and I accredit my teachers for my growth and realizations. There is an opportunity for growth in every experience. I strive to absorb those lessons and in my learning I then yearn to share. My teachers come in many shapes and forms, breath, four-legged ones, nature, the weather, people and experiences. Teaching is a way for me to integrate them all and share my form of creativity, healing and joy.
I am deeply inspired by the mindful playfulness that is integrated into every class I have taken with Mike Matsumara. I can never forget the way Cheryl Deer stays connected to an entire room of people while working with one person delivering the yummiest assists. Matt Sanford teaches me a new way to listen every time we meet. Ana Forrest blows my mind so that I can wake up and feel. Kim Greef has invited me to dig deeper, to listen and to use my voice. These are some lessons and styles of teaching I want to share.
I thrive with conscious movement. I love feeling deeply connected with my breath in my body and my mind serving my body with gratitude for my aliveness. I love the moments of unobstructed presence when I feel completely aligned with the dance of my life. Some things that help me do this are the four agreements – Be impeccable with my word, don’t take anything personally, don’t make assumptions, and always do my best. When I feel my worst I cuddle up with it and get to know it instead of doing a power dance with struggle. In these struggle-free moments of clarity and full feeling I am astounded by the beauty of my humanity and in awe of the mystery of life. Connection with others comes easy and silence is sweet. There’s no need for words, however, when shared they are enjoyed deeply. There’s a fresh, rich feeling that happens when my connection to self extends into my connection with others and we share. We love.
What brought you to the mat and how has it changed your life?
I remember lying on the floor after a cross-training session for figure skating. It was the end of an eight-hour day filled with pushing my body to its limits (the usual for my twelve year-old self). In an informal Savasana my coach led me through a blue-sky meditation. My mind was so quiet. I was amazed. I didn’t know it at the time that I was hooked for life. This visualization stuck with me.
In high school, a track coach led me through a post workout progressive muscle relaxation. It felt so good that I did it every single night before bed for years. In college I read the book Waking by Matthew Sanford and I wanted to feel the vitality, grace, and mindfulness that Matt displayed through his story. My mother had taken me to some yoga classes and we had had a lot of fun together but my practice was never consistent. Encouraged by my life coach I started doing yoga consistently; Once a week, on Sundays. It was heaven. Sunday nights became my quiet time, my time to move in a new and different way, to stretch out my achy, repetitive movement, triathlete muscles, to clear out my over-zealous, nonstop brain and to simply be me. I fell in love.
My relationship with yoga has created a space for me to explore my connection to self and connection to Spirit. My mat is a place I go for nourishment, to listen and be heard, to be cared for, challenged, excited, delighted and for rest. Yoga has taught me how to stay steadfast with myself through adversity and has opened me up for growth, strength and flexibility on and off the mat. I have much gratitude for this practice in my life.