Practicing yoga since: 2005
1) Tell us about the first yoga class you took. I had taken a class or two at the gym a few times but I started practicing regularly in 2005. My first class was a really advanced ashtanga class that was way over my head, but I didn’t let that scare me away. I was immediately drawn to the calming and grounding nature of yoga and loved the community environment as opposed to a gym.
Teaching since 2012
2) What do you remember of the first yoga class you taught? My teacher training program was actually an apprenticeship program that was ongoing for several years and so I don’t recall the “first class” I ever taught. My apprenticeship consisted of assisting with my teacher on a weekly basis and after about 9 months I began to sub classes, and then earned my own weekly class. What I remember most is supporting and being a part of our community on a daily basis and getting to know each student and their needs.
3) Who/what are your teachers? Why? My teacher is Zoe Mai, from Trishula Yoga in Collingswood, NJ. Trishula is a unique yoga school that offers traditional Ashtanga Mysore practice, yoga philosophy, Sanskrit and meditation practices. I feel blessed to have the exposure to many aspects of yoga and a teacher who is established in these practices. I never imagined myself to be a teacher, yet Zoe saw something in me and for her faith, I am forever grateful.
4) In what ways has yoga supported or impacted your life? Yoga has completely transformed my life. I worked in the fashion industry and began practicing yoga as a way to balance out the stress from my hectic work life. Ultimately it’s because of the yoga that I transformed my goals and aspirations and ended up living in Tahoe! The practice of yoga brings awareness to your thoughts and behaviors and brings you closer to, or brings you back to who you really are. When I started to pay attention to my fast paced, stressed out lifestyle I started to change my career goals and eventually gave it all up to pursue a simpler, more active life in a community of like-minded people. Yoga supports everything that I do, it keeps me happy and healthy as well as strong and flexible to pursue all of the outdoor adventures Tahoe has to offer.
5) What does your current yoga practice include? Why? I practice Ashtanga Mysore style 5-6 days a week. I’m currently working on the third series – called sthira bhaga, often translated as strength and grace. Sthira means strength and the practice cultivates strength not only in the body but also the in the mind. It’s a challenging practice but it’s not about the poses. Every day is different and the practice is about keeping the energy moving so at least one or two days a week I practice the primary series.
6) What currently inspires you? The students who tell me how yoga has changed their life inspire me. I often hear that the practice has given them clarity, or has helped to heal years of pain in the body. For some it helps to calm their minds and make them feel grounded. For others, it makes them strong and feeling good about themselves. I’m honored and humbled to be part of the process.
7) What secret helps you to maintain balance and stay healthy? My daily yoga practice keeps me healthy! Also, a short meditation at the end of my asana practice keeps me balanced and feeling grounded.
8) A fun fact most people don’t know about you? I’ve walked over hot coals, twice! I participated in a couple of empowerment seminars that included a fire walk. I got burned pretty badly the second time and remember telling people at work that I cut my foot while walking barefoot outside for fear that people would think I was crazy walking over hot coals!
9) What do you want to share with the Shala community? I’d like to share that my teaching comes from a place of love. Love for each student in the moment, as you are, without expectation or judgment. I often hear that students are intimidated to try the Ashtanga Mysore method, because they ‘don’t want to think’ and rather be ‘told what to do’, the idea of having to memorize a set sequence seems like ‘too much work’. I’d like to share that there is empowerment in moving, breathing and learning the sequence on your own. Ashtanga also tells you exactly what to do, when to inhale and exhale and what comes next. You just need to memorize a little bit each time. And you’re not alone, we as the teachers work with you individually and help you to learn every step of the way. Every student has begun the same way, with learning the sun salutations and slowly adding on poses once they commit to showing up. Whether it’s once a week or more, the only way to progress is to actually show up and do the work. When you look at other students flowing, what appears to be ‘effortlessly’, through the vinyasas, what you don’t see is that they show up day after day, after month, after year and have committed to the practice. They’ve struggled and persevered and keep showing up despite the challenges. This is a challenging practice however we modify and make it approachable for every age, and every body type. The Ashtanga method is a system for healing and transforming the body and the mind. The asana practice is a tool to quiet the mind and the stories that we tell ourselves. However it only works if you are willing to take that first step! Come try the Mysore method, there are no expectations, only love and support.