Certified Yoga Therapist
Tell us about yourself, where you are from, where you practiced/learned, etc.
I'm an East coast girl, having grown up in Virginia and New Jersey. I spent my young adult life in Atlanta, GA, and currently live in Baltimore, MD. I'm a mother to 2 teens, I play the ukelele and require lots of quiet time. I've been a Certified Yoga Therapist since 2004, completed a 500 hr training in 2008, and in 2014, I created Make Peace with Stress, a virtual yoga therapy program for smart, driven women who want to be more present, calm + confident, but feel stuck, overwhelmed, and find it difficult to relax.
How and why did you start yoga?
In my 20's I struggled with chronic stress. At some point during that time, my sister taught me the sun salutation, which resonated with me as beneficial and healing but didn't stick as a practice. Some years later, at a low point in my struggling, I started forward bending, slowing my breath, and repeating things like, "You're ok." as a way to keep myself from having a panic attack. I didn't know it at the time, but this simple yoga practice interrupted my stress response and my whole life began to change for the better.
Who was your great mentor/teacher?
I've learned from so many incredible teachers, and have felt especially mentored by Elena Brower, but the deepest guidance I continually receive is from my own soul. As I've cultivated my relationship with my innermost being, I'm more and more convinced that we are meant to be our own greatest teachers. I love the way Debbie Ford talks about soul, "it carries all the messages and the lessons that we’ve learned in the past and will carry all the lessons and the messages that we will carry into the future."
Tell us your practice style and how did you choose your yoga method?
Yoga rescued me from chronic stress and the self-destructive ways I was using to cope. Because of this experience, when a teacher training in Integrative Yoga Therapy showed up in my search, I saw it as an opportunity to learn how to offer yoga as way to, as the International Association of Yoga Therapists puts it so precisely, " progress toward improved health and well-being through the application of the teachings and practices of yoga." This is my ongoing personal and professional experience.
What obstacles has yoga helped you overcome?
When I was struggling with chronic stress, I developed the nervous habit of pulling on my eyebrows and eyelashes. Eventually, I pulled them all out. I’ll never forget the day I saw myself in the mirror and knew I had a choice: stay stuck and miserable or take charge and change. I decided to take charge so when I noticed myself pulling on eyebrows or lashes that weren’t even there, I took the opportunity to change my experience. I’d bend over, take a few deep breaths, and focus on what I wanted to feel.
What is your mindset when you step onto the mat?
Presence. Without a doubt, I use my physical practice to be in my body and mind and cultivate non-judgemental moment-to-moment awareness of my inner experience. I believe each of us has an endless supply of inner peace as well as all of the knowledge (often disguised as perceived obstacles) to access it so that we can live up to our highest potential. Getting on the mat gives us dedicated time to practice being more open and receptive, to build fortitude and resilience, to discover balance and stillness.
When did you understand you wanted to be a yoga teacher?
Once I became aware that I was using yoga to calm my overactive stress response, I looked for a class to learn more. I found one at the YMCA and after attending weekly for several years, the teacher, Kathy, off-handedly suggested I teach. Interestingly, my husband and I were preparing to make a dramatic life change (moving to Baltimore so he could go to grad school) and I was unsure of my direction. When Kathy suggested I become a yoga teacher, I immediately knew that's exactly what I was meant to do.
What is the most rewarding part of being a yoga teacher?
Connecting with humans and offering an opportunity to let patterns that aren't serving them come to the forefront. In my classes, I'm constantly reminding the students that their time on the mat is time to practice being the type of person they want to be. In my yoga therapy program, Make Peace with Stress, I teach a 3-step method to do it succinctly: self-study + surrender + intention. Whether in-person or virtually, it's so fulfilling to witness someone choose to get unstuck and take charge of their experience.
Why is yoga so important for the times we’re living in?
Yoga gives us many tools to help us get off autopilot, which is so important for the times we're living in. When we're living on autopilot, we perpetuate and strengthen our patterns without being fully conscious of whether what we're doing, feeling, thinking and believing is beneficial or detrimental. I think too many of us are stuck in habits of distracting and numbing ourselves. We need yoga to teach us to show up more fully and be conscious of what we're contributing to the world with every choice we make.
Your favorite quote?
Gandhi is credited with saying we must be the change we wish to see in the world. What he actually said is “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. ... We need not wait to see what others do.” I think the point is that personal and social transformation are inextricably linked, that we're meant to follow our inner guide, and leading by example is the way to affect deeply meaningful change.
Anything else you want to share?
Continually using yoga to grow from life's challenges taught me 3 important lessons that I use daily and teach in both on the mat and in my virtual yoga therapy program, Make Peace with Stress:
- Your stress is resistance to the life lessons you’re meant to learn.
- Showing up for these lessons and learning how to be your best self is your purpose in life.
- Change isn’t complicated but the result of consistently making the simple choice to take charge of yourself.
Where can we find you? Instagram, website, etc.