Certified Yoga Instructor
Founder, Owner, and Lead Trainer of Shanti Yoga School
Tell us about yourself, where you are from, currently reside, practice, etc.
I am currently in Varkala, a beautiful small village on a cliff overlooking the ocean in the state of Kerala, India. There is an amazing yoga scene here, even during the slower, wet monsoon season. And I have these amazing teachers giving me undivided attention. It's a gift.
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Boston. After working in corporate America for ten years I started a journey of self-discovery. This led me to yoga, healing, and service. In 2017 I went to India to deepen my personal yoga practice and I've been here ever since.
How long have you been practicing yoga and why did you start practicing yoga?
I've been practicing yoga since 2012, so 7 years. The first few years were very off and on. My practice has been more serious the last 3 years. I started yoga because my body was tight from weightlifting. The flexibility benefits of yoga drew me in.
What is yoga to you?
Yoga, to me, is going inside the body and mind to answer the questions we were taught can only be found outside. The answer is always within the self.
How did you feel after your first yoga class and how do you want students to feel after they practice with you?
Luckily my first yoga class was taught by an amazing woman who added small seeds of Eastern philosophy. Karma. Loving-kindness. Acceptance. Surrender. I was hooked. And that's how I want my students to feel after practicing with me: hooked on yoga. Hooked on tuning into the self.
Do you currently practice and teach? If so, where?
I practice yoga asana just about every day. And I try to practice the more mental and spiritual aspects during every breath.
I started Shanti Yoga School in Gokarna, India last year. We run teacher trainings in a fabulous shala a minute's walk from Om Beach amongst the birds, trees, monkeys, and sounds of the crashing ocean waves. It's a karma yoga project. Our trainings are very affordable and we survive on donations. Our season is from October through March. When I'm not running the school I go back into "student mode". I recently completed a Thai Yoga Massage course and I am practicing yoga asana daily for 4 hours with my guru in Varkala.
What impact has yoga had on your life? Who were you before you started practicing and how have you changed, evolved and transformed?
Yoga has provided me a new lens on how to see the world and my place in it. Without yoga I wouldn't have a purpose. I wouldn't know how to help others in a more fulfilling way than the typical 9-to-5 office job (not that there's anything wrong with office jobs).
Before practicing yoga I was stressed from my career, I felt aimless, and I was physically unhealthy. Through yoga I found purpose. I realized I'm only one small part of a larger collective. And it's now my duty to help others recognize their true self and spread health and vitality.
Why did you decide to start teaching yoga and what makes a good yoga teacher?
I decided to start teaching yoga because everyone I know back home could benefit from it. I see so many people who are searching for something and they can't put their finger on what. I think yoga helps get to that answer.
A good yoga teacher is a beacon of the community. They are the model citizen. I'm not saying yoga teachers are infallible, but they should strive to be the ideal.
What style of yoga do you practice and what makes that style most effective? Do you have a teacher in your style of yoga?
I practice lots of yoga styles. For asana I like Hatha and Vinyasa Flow. I don't know if you consider these styles, but I also practice pranayama, trataka, and meditation. I also love singing kirtan in the shower. I try to balance the four paths: bhakti, jnana, karma, and raja.
What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out on their yoga journey?
Stop reading about yoga and start doing it. Find a teacher you like and trust with good reviews and just start.
What has been your biggest struggle and your biggest milestone in the practice?
My biggest struggle in my yoga practice is maintaining the feelings of bliss that appear is small moments. For a few weeks I was able to ride a sort of high. I was in a really good place. Yoga is more mental than physical. They say that about a lot of things, actually. I've heard people say that about football, but it's true.
My biggest milestone in my yoga practice has been opening my yoga school at Om Beach. It was such a labour of love, and so much work. But it's fantastic being able to do what I love and help people find their path through this reality.
What is the single most defining issue facing the global yoga community today?
Dogma in general, and particularly when instructing a pose. So many yoga teachers get caught up in what's right and wrong. You can't say "never lock your knee" or "always bring your shoulder blades together" because not all students need to make those adjustments. It depends on the individual body. You have to look at what each student is doing and instruct from there.
What is your dharma, your life mission?
My dharma is to promote peace. Peace within the self. And peace without, and throughout, the world. That's why I named my school Shanti Yoga. Shanti means peace.
Where can our readers find you? (Instagram, Website, etc).
I have a blog on my site: https://www.shantiyogaschool.com/
I post 1-minute videos daily when Shanti Yoga School is in session from October through March. Check it out here:
If you'd like to learn yoga in-person visit me at Om Beach. I run a karma yoga school. We charge the bare-minimum needed to keep the school running so you'll get a great education for a very low price.
Anything else you want to share?
I've read many self-help books. I've done tons of research. I listened to hours of podcasts. It all comes down to this: empathy and kindness. Nobody thinks they're the bad guy. We're all trying the best we can. Put yourself in others' shoes and try and understand where they're coming from. Then, be kind. It's that simple.