Introduction: Tell us about yourself, your story, where you are from, practice, etc.
For most of m life I have struggled with anxiety, depression and addiction. In my late teens knee deep in an eating disorder I found yoga. After my first class something inside me flipped and in that one hour I felt things I hadn't felt in a very long time. Quiet, stillness, no urges to binge and purge or anxiety of any kind. And even though I wasn't very good, I felt relief. My Wednesday night yoga class became my weekly ritual of second chances. And those second chances eventually let me to a yoga teacher training. Yoga became a platform for me to help others and at at same time, help myself.
In the years following I opened a yoga studio, married my high school sweetheart and to our surprise, became pregnant. But at 29 weeks pregnant we received the worst news any parent could ever hear. "I'm sorry, your baby isn't going to make it". And on May 23, 2007 our tiny 2 pound daughter Faith was born into this world. And just 20 minutes later, died in my arms. After deep and dark grieving I looked in the mirror one day and decided to find something good in this horrible thing. This thing I would never wish on anyone. And it happened. I started to see the blessings. I took my grief to the mat and started to heal, work and move through all those uncomfortable feelings, emotions and experiences in a safe way.
Yoga was my platform to help others, inspire others, lead others, guide others to dig deep and grow. And every step I guided others to do that, I was also doing it for myself. Years passed and I eventually began leading yoga teacher training's, I created my own methodology to movement and core integration. I began to learn to allow, rather than force life and life showed me its blessings. Students would visit my studio and comment how they had never experienced yoga this way. I knew helping people in this way was my calling. Helping people not only feel physically better, but dig in and be willing to see what is actually there. And I knew this processed worked because I was and had done it right along with them. It wasn't about the poses, but what they poses helped me and others to do- feel and experience life.
Then about five years ago I became pregnant for the fourth time, it was in that moment (literally) that I realized I was meant for more. I could inspire millions, not just hundreds and thousands solely on the yoga mat like I had been. And I decided to step into my true calling- to become a speaker. I had been speaking on the yoga mat for over 12 years at the time, and I wanted to take my "yoga toolbox" to those who would't otherwise seek it out. Show people yoga is more than what they see in magazines or even meditating for hours on a cushion. It's how you live every day, breathe each breath, move your body, and play with your thoughts.
The HOPE Process was born. Helping Others Purposefully Excel. And when I reflected on what I was continually teaching to others, what my process was. The Three B's was born: Breath, Body, Belief.
I now have the honor of inspiring people I wouldn't otherwise have had the opportunity to and introduce them to what I see as yoga, and breath, and movement in easy bite size snacks. See I tried for years to get healthy, walk the path of recovery. But I was all or nothing. Black or white. And life is just not like that. It's about one breath at a time, one move at a time, one thought at a time. And I hope to inspire you in just that way.
How and why did you start yoga?
Yoga found me at a time when I needed it the most. Knee deep in an eating disorder a co-worker looked at me one day and said: "you look like someone who would practice yoga". And full disclosure, I didn't even know what yoga was. But something in me flipped and I went home that day and told my mom I wanted to try yoga. And we found a local gym, drove the 20 minutes, to that 60 minute yoga class. I was the youngest by more than 25 years, but I was hooked.
Who was your great mentor/teacher?
Honestly, all my students over the years. It was a process to open up to the idea that I didn't need to be perfect or know everything, and they taught me that. I watched them, listened to them and would go back and study, or practice and dig in based on them. All the business learning lessons my students have taught me about standing up for myself, valuing my worth, time, energy, effort. All came from them. They may not have known that and I more than likely was not intentional. But if I would not have owned a yoga studio and had the honor of working with all of them. I would still be dealing with a lot of stuff. Stuff that would only be holding me back.
Tell us your practice style and how did you choose your yoga method?
Most people say I have a unique style. I am Hatha, Iyengar, and Vinyasa trained initially. But over the past 17 years I have educated myself otherwise. And my best education in the yoga world was actually stepping outside the yoga whelm and studying the body through functional anatomy, bio mechanics, and other means and then going back and applying it to yoga. I dove deep into studying the core in every way I could (that had nothing to do with yoga) and came back to the mat yet again and transformed my practice. I had realized that I know poses, but I didn't know people and how they move TODAY. It is because of this that I have transformed yoga poses for my students, use unique cues, talk about things like the anal sphincter, and the vaginal passageway in ways that empower them to take back their body. Rather than assume they know where they core is. Or how to use their glutes VS quads. And as we assess the mind and the conversation going on inside their head as I request they hold something, I also encourage them to use their modern bodies in ways that make sense for them today.
What obstacles has yoga helped you overcome?
Addiction. Depression. Anxiety. Body images issues. Social anxiety!
What is your mind set when you step onto the mat?
Today, my mindset when I teach is I am here to be a channel. I honestly don't always know what I'm going to teach. I just feel the room, the energy of the people, and go with it. My mindset is, it's not about me, I'm free when I teach, and take nothing personal. Everyone in the room is on their own journey and it is not about me. On my own mat. My mindset is liberation. And depending on where I am in life, sometimes it's strength, sometimes it's release. I find that my practice intentions and mindset mimic where I am in life. And what I need.
When did you understand you wanted to be a yoga teacher?
I knew I wanted to be a yoga teacher the day my teacher looked at me after class and said: "You are pretty good, you should consider becoming a yoga teacher." And even though she was thinking weekend warrior training. I knew I wanted to do it right. I don't know how or why I knew that, but I knew I wanted to dive in and learn everything I could.
What is the most rewarding part of being a yoga teacher?
Seeing the lights go on in students. Where they finally get it. Their bodies have a breakthrough. They make a huge shift in their personal life. I have had several women through yoga teacher training shift in their marriage, finally having the clarity and strength to do so. The sky is the limit with yoga. And I love watching them. It gives me strength to do the same in my life in my own way.
Why is yoga so important for the times we’re living in?
We are so busy, so many distractions. And everyone seems to be looking outside themselves for validation in life and where the real validation, guide and strength is, lies inside. It does. People ask me all the time how I recovered and am where I am today from such a horrific eating disorder and anxiety and depression without any medications. My answer. Yoga. In the best way possible yoga forced me to deal with my s@#!, and feel and heal. Because if you are someone who has struggled with addiction, your whole goal is to not feel. And yoga called me out on my lies, bs, and showed me a safe place to work it all out. Then go and practice it in real life.
How important is living a healthy lifestyle important to the yogi lifestyle?
It's almost impossible to adopt yoga into your life and not feel some need to clean up other areas of your life. To me it just doesn't make sense, go to yoga, then go out and get drunk? I am not opposed to an alcoholic beverage, but my point is yoga practices moderation, nothing in excess. And that has been a huge help for me in recovery. Also food is fuel, yoga taught me that, how can I master an arm balance when my arms are weak because I haven't eaten anything. Or on the flip size if I am obsessing about exercise (which I use to) I have gone over the other edge.
I follow the mantra just like what we say: "is it helping me or hurting me"? I ask myself that when food as well.
Any natural ingredients and/or vitamins that you recommend? And why?
I am a huge believer in B12 and Vitamin D. Where I live we have more overcast days and dark days. And I notice in the winter I start feeling depressed. So now I am proactive and take my vitamins, sit in my infarred sauna with red light therapy. And get outside to walk as much as possible. I also am a huge believer in good oils/fats. That is your brain power. I starved myself for years, my brain need the nutrition. We all do! I also take a mineral drink because we cannot absorb vitamins without minerals and our soils are depleted. I also personally don't believe that we can find quality vitamins we need at the CVS or Walgreens. Make sure you are buying quality. Or you might just be buying them to feel good you are doing something.
How important is hydrating/drinking water to the yoga lifestyle/your practice?
This is a non-negotiable. 1/2 your body weight in ounces daily. Or .6 x your body weight drank every single day. If you drink alcohol or coffee add 2 extra cups for each cup you drink!
Your favorite quote?
"Be willing to stand up for what you believe in, even if that means you are standing alone". That quote came to me in a dream when I was in high school.
Where we can we find you? Instagram, website, etc
Anything else you want to share?
I believe everything happens for a reason and we can either look at life and say "why is this happening to me". Let me save you the time and energy. That gets you nowhere. Or we can look at life and the things happening and say "thank you for choosing me". That is for you to decide....