What challenges did 2020 present to you that reinforced your learnings as a student of yoga?
Walking through life with intention, integrity, inquiry, service, and compassion is the daily practice that guides me forward today. Moving my body and repeating personal mantra, affirmation and prayer is the doorway that I found this year. After years of dissociation physically and mentally, today I’m finding solace with myself as I walk through the unknown, separate yet so profoundly connected to myself and to others.
For me, 2020 brought me more opportunity to practice witnessing and gathering mindful data: appreciating the brilliant strategies of old behavior that kept me from moving forward in the practice of inquiry. I’m now realizing behaviors that aren’t relevant, skillful or helpful any more, and realizing that I can change my brain, my body, and my behavior. I can pivot and I can shift. I can sustain… as long as I stay true and real to my heart.
What inspired you to begin your yoga teacher training, and at what point (and why) did you decide to pursue other forms of movement training beyond yoga?
Whenever I roll out my mat, I am reminded of my initial discovery of yoga and its many healing benefits. I started practicing Kripalu Yoga 4.5 years ago because of debilitating pain and dis-ease from living with a neuromuscular disorder and MCAS as a result of past trauma.
Understanding the underlying causes of my condition has allowed me to claim my own healing—holistic, alternative, preventative—and return back to an active and healthy lifestyle without medication.
As a trauma-trained educator, my hope is to inspire individuals to live with agency of their movement. My goal in coaching is to teach how to navigate daily shifts and flows of physical and energetic experiences within the body from an investigative lens instead of a judgmental lens.
From personal experience, investigating is a choice that helps me figure out what there is to learn and what my blind spots are in order to foster the resilience for change, perseverance, and healing.
As a retired athlete, my love for movement and coaching is rooted in optimal performance training. The thing about athletes is that, oftentimes, they don’t look to get support due to the stigma of perceived weakness, and potentially having this negatively affecting their team placement. They need this support, not only as performance athletes, but also to navigate and withstand a wider range of stressors outside of their sporting careers, amongst their peers, and especially as they adapt to new norms at school and with themselves post-Covid 19.
Managing mental health assists in managing high stress situations, can reduce anxiety, and create optimism—which is why my resilience training programs are beneficial. My program offerings include experiential activities for high school sports teams and offer scenarios for young adults to anticipate and improve their problem solving skills, both as individuals and with each other, and that builds confidence!
What benefit do you find that fitness and movement offers students who are typically wedded to just yoga practice?
Learning to navigate and celebrate all facets of life in recovery has been essential in my own healing. Understanding the dis-ease that shows up in my physical body from a functional or holistic perspective is what led me to yoga. Yoga is what inspires me to live in connection with my body, mind, and my breath in order to stay healthy and pain free.
The everyday practice of showing up; for my body—with gratitude—requires a committed and authentic attitude(s)! Having gratitude for what my body is capable of is what reminds me to make good decisions for my health. It motivates me to inspire others in doing the same. The dis-ease that is in my body is something I navigate with conscious breath, vision, choice, grace, and patience. In choosing small shifts, I’m growing habits of self-love and non-judgmental observation. I am more able to move through sensation in my physical body: shame, doubt, stagnancy, loss, fear… I have learned to accept what is real and true for me and I have come to believe that each moment is an unrepeatable miracle.
What would you say to someone who hasn’t tried online fitness classes at home?
From my own experience, autonomy in the decision to begin the process of change in physical wellbeing is vital in realistically creating a change in mental and emotional wellbeing.
My practice, Loveinmvmt Living, invites you to learn and relearn the conditions that allow you to reclaim agency of your movement and self-care rituals. Learning to harness the necessary knowledge, tools, and skills within you that support you in living a more enriched and authentic daily-experience is the most empowering thing you can ever give yourself and a really important part of honoring your body and all that it does for you.
My practice sequences are designed to support all ages, all levels, and every body. I offer a ton of variation and modifications. Injury prevention is one of my main priorities, which is why I focus heavy on alignment and foundation. For me as a coach, keeping you safe and connected to your strength is part of the end goal. My role as a coach is to keep you motivated, accountable, and inspired in your movement, personal intentions, and personal rituals. For many of us, our daily schedules are structured in a way that does not allow very much personal commitment. Weekly check-ins and virtual practice sessions are a great way to treat yourself; redirect, recommit, realign, and most importantly revive you! This is the part that I love! It’s the part that you will love too! Becoming educated in your movement and gaining confidence in your fitness routine will allow you to experience a different strength, not just physically but also mentally.
What larger mission of yours do these online courses serve? In what way would you like to see the Wanderlust community internalizing your teachings?
The mission behind Loveinmvmt Living includes reclaiming agency of your life, and harnessing the necessary knowledge, tools, and skills within you that will support you in living more enriched, and authentic daily-experiences. Beyond speaking, we must allow the basic yogic practice of service to lead us to action; to alter our own behavior, to peacefully organize, and serve healing to ourselves with compassion to inspire others to do the same.
My mission: “I choose to serve. As a Trauma Trained Educator, Recovery Ally, and Kripalu Teacher, I choose to be helpful and live in connection with others. In this time of physical separation I choose to be part of a solution.”
What is your single favorite teaching that you keep coming back to?
“The highest form of spiritual practice is Self Observation Without Judgement.” – Swami Kripalu
Swami Kripalu’s core teaching gives me access to nonjudgmental witness and compassionate observation. By allowing my fears in and befriending them—observing them without judgement—I am able to lean into my doubts, my insecurities, my limiting beliefs and my weaknesses. In so doing, I can gracefully tend to myself and tend to my own healing. I am able to return back to the moment: to the presence and the reality of what is real and true for me. I create change in my brain and create, again and again, a pathway to relaxed compassion. With a peaceful heart, whatever happens can be met with wisdom and peace.