How did you get into yoga? What aspect of yoga got you on the mat in the beginning?
As an angst-filled teen, I was struggling and searching for an end to my own personal suffering. I started to ponder the more existential questions of ‘who am I, why am I here and what is the purpose of this life ’ when I stumbled upon a book on eastern philosophy and Buddhist teachings and something about it deeply resonated with me. I continued to devour every book on the subject and they all pointed to meditation as a means to an end of suffering, so I gave it a try. It was on a meditation retreat in the Himalayas of Nepal several years later where I was introduced to the asana yoga practice and fell in love with the feeling of meditation in motion.
What would you consider your yoga style and who were a few teachers that influenced you the most?
Over the past 25 years of practice, I’ve tried just about every style of yoga, but I personally find Vinyasa and Ashtanga, which both have a focus on breath, allow me to access that deep meditative state that I am most interested in. I love the energy of a group Vinyasa class moving, breathing and rocking out to great music together, but I also appreciate and enjoy the quiet, deeply personal practice of Mysore. While I don’t practice it regularly, I also love Kundalini yoga and find the effects of that practice incredibly powerful and mind altering. I’ve attended Kundalini women’s retreats and completed my prenatal teacher training with Gurmukh, who has been one of my greatest influences and a big reason I not only teach prenatal yoga but am also a birth doula.
What was one of the funniest or most humbling moments you've had while teaching a class?
A pregnant woman passed out in my prenatal class and fell straight down from tree pose to the ground and landing on her belly, splitting her lip open and cracking her two front teeth. I had to stop the class and rush her in an ambulance to the emergency room. Miraculously her baby was ok, but it was frightening and a reminder of the vulnerabilities of pregnancy and responsibilities of being a yoga teacher.
Within the 8 limbs of yoga, the experience of Samadhi is often described as the top rung of the ladder. It's considered by many to be indescribable, yet it is often described as such and more. Can you please describe your personal experience of this state or what the concept represents to you?
When one practices the 8 limbs of yoga, glimpses of vast oneness, total consciousness, pure unconditional love or what is called, Samadhi, can occur where there is no delineation of self from Self. I’ve experienced some form of this awakened state through wholehearted practice and deep meditation, but a more sustainable state of Samadhi, is something I strive to find in the little moments of life.
In everything I do and everyone I come in contact with I constantly practice being completely immersed in the here and now and with whomever I’m with at any given moment. Raising three children has given me lots of practice and opportunities to experience this state of complete union, and utter selflessness, and nowhere am I more present than when I’m teaching yoga or helping deliver a baby.
I’ve also realized that it’s not necessarily the attainment of Samadhi but the simple earnestness of a daily practice in the attempt of attaining this awakened state, that has brought me to a place of deep contentment (santosha) and immense happiness in my life.
In less than 140 characters, describe your inner experience going about daily life pre vs. post developing a regular yoga or meditation practice.
Independent vs. codependent – in the healthiest sense of the word.
I was a fiercely independent self-reliant person but it came from a place of defensiveness and self-protection. Through yoga I have slowly taken off that armor and learned that relying on others is not only possible but leads to deeper connection; the root of love and the heart of the human experience.
Who are some of the spiritual teachers or gurus that you would desire to study under (dead or alive) who would it be?
Siddartha Guatama aka Buddha – who better than to learn the Buddhist teachings from?
Krishnamacharya – the father of modern yoga and a holistic healer who believed that an asana practice could be a form of spiritual practice and also a mode for physical healing.
Henry David Thoreau – his writings inspired me at a young age to find the spiritual in nature and daily living and I admire his peaceful rebelliousness and activism (he was a major influence for future leaders MLK and Gandhi among others).
One of my all time favorite quotes from his book, Walden:
‘I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life,…’
— Henry David Thoreau
Can you please share with us one idea that you used to believe in or be sure of that you no longer adhere to?
‘No matter how hard the past, you can always begin again.’
I used to think I had to get it right the first time and its incredibly liberating to know I can try, I can fail, I can screw up and I can try again. I don’t have to get it right the first time and chances are I won’t.
What is your favorite non-yoga activity?
Travel. Three days after I graduated high school I got on a plane to Europe (where I ending up living for a while) and until I had kids, I was a total traveling nomad. Now that my kids are older and more portable, I have more opportunities to travel again: the more exotic and further away, the better. Traveling to foreign places makes me feel small in the best possible way and also makes me feel more connected to the world around me. It truly broadens my horizons, changes my perspective and is a constant reminder that we are all the same, no matter how different we seem.
What is one thing people don’t know about you.
I’m a recovering adrenal junkie and used to be an avid skydiver. I loved the rush of jumping out of planes, free falling in formation and the utter freedom of flying high above the earth. Wherever I traveled to, I would bring my rig and find a drop zone. I ended up jumping all over the world and met the most wild and interesting people. It was only when I had a near death accident and suffered multiple injuries that I stopped. Yoga has helped me heal from those injuries and needless to say, gave me the grounding I really needed.
If you could change one aspect of the modern yoga world, what would that be?
When I tell people that I do yoga, more often than not, people’s response is, ‘Oh I could never do that,’ ‘I’m not flexible enough’, ’I don’t have the right body for it’, etc. And as an unnaturally flexible person myself, I think if I had seen all the images of yoga poses that are out there now in the mainstream, I would have never thought yoga was for me either, and what a loss that would have been.
Why do you love teaching at yogaview?
Tom and Quinn truly walk the talk. They are humble, curious, open and completely non dogmatic and they attract a like-minded community. When I first practiced at yogaview (I was there the very first week it opened) I loved that I could be completely anonymous, come in and do my practice and leave. Now I know the majority of the people that come through the doors and it is the community that is best part of this place for me. It is truly my home away from home, my temple, my church, my safe haven.
Tuesday 8:30 - 9:45 am Level 2 Chicago
Thursday 6:15 - 7:30 pm Level 2 Chicago
Friday 9:30 - 10:45 am Level 2/3 Chicago
Sunday 10:15 - 11:30 am Pre-Natal Chicago