How did you begin your yoga practice?
My yogic journey began at age 12 when I received the "MTV Yoga" VHS. I also practiced meditation using mantra and guided meditations on CDs from the library. For years, I maintained a home practice (led by books and videos) and took some gym classes. I finally stepped into a yoga studio when I was 18. I had built a very basic foundation, but hadn't experienced the benefit of being guided to new spaces by a teacher. Once I began to practice regularly in a studio, I found myself exploring new postures and moving much more deeply into the practice- largely guided by Jennifer Mitchell. As soon as she established Soul Yoga Studio in Salisbury, I was a regular.
Why do you practice yoga?
The yogic path has become my path. The practice is pervasive in every aspect of my life, so it is hard to list reasons. Relaxation, concentration, meditation, strength, mobility... these are all reasons I show up to my mat each day. But, ultimately, I think that I stepped onto this path with a desire to be present in every moment of my life. I cultivate presence through my practice so that I can show up fully- for the wonderful moments, and the challenging ones. It's all part of the ride and I want to experience it in full consciousness.
Where did you receive your training?
I received my 200 hour training at Charm City Yoga (now YogaWorks Baltimore) under the tutelage of Kim Manfredi in 2014. Immediately afterwards, I signed up for (and completed) my 300 additional hours of training. I am a licensed physical therapist assistant and I have experience working with orthopedic, neurological, and lymphatic disorders. I worked for many years in a outpatient (primarily orthopedic) office focusing on aquatic therapy. Since then, I have worked part time in the inpatient setting and received my certification as a certified lymphedema therapist. My knowledge of anatomy and physiology is a tool I rely on heavily in my own practice and in my teaching, but I am always looking to add new tools to my tool belt. I am always a student— enrolling in courses with teachers (such as Jason Crandell), learning from spiritual texts and learning from my students every day.
Why do you teach yoga?
At age 19, I was diagnosed with cancer. I went through six rounds of chemotherapy and several surgeries to treat my non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. During that period, my yoga practice was indispensable. I felt such deep contentment, despite the adversity, and I believe that my yoga practice had a lot to do with that. Patanjali's describes Santosha (the second Niyama) as deep contentment regardless of external factors. I believe we can cultivate Santosha by showing up on our mats each day, regardless of what is happening in our lives. When we show up to our mats with the intention to accept all things- including the difficulties and discomforts- we become able to show up fully in all aspects of our lives. For me, it was during those challenging moments that I came to know myself on a much deeper level. I was able to set my priorities and let go of many attachments and aversions. Had I not been able to remain present during those challenging times, had I wished them away, or not fully accepted all that was happening- I would not have found such contentment. I teach to help others remain present, practice acceptance and cultivate santosha in their own lives.
I love teaching yoga, but I have found my true calling in teaching teachers. I established Salisbury’s first 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training (recognized by Yoga Alliance) in 2018. I am currently creating the curriculum for our advanced (300 Hour) teacher training program, so stay tuned!
How would you describe your classes?
Because of my belief in acceptance and presence, I often ask my students to move towards intense, or uncomfortable sensations and just remain aware of what happens in their body and mind. I also try to challenge students to step outside of their comfort zone, even if it's only a baby step, to discover their limitless potential. Okay, now let me add that my classes are not just made up of uncomfortable, challenging poses. I also make time for relaxation and fun! I have worked in physical therapy for over ten years now and my classes have a strong anatomical focus. I ask students to move through the practice with great care and intention. I am a hands-on teacher and love to assist my students in finding new spaces to explore in the practice. I enjoy exploring new and fluid transitions, as well as establishing a solid foundation in each posture.
What else do you do with your time?
Since April 2017, Soul Yoga is my full time gig! I am the owner and operator of the studio which is such a privilege and a joy! In addition to operating the studio and teaching public classes, my working hours are spent on our 200 Hour Registered Yoga School and working to establish an advanced teacher training program (coming soon)!
My husband, Bryan, and I have been together since I was 16 years old and he is still my best friend. He is also a self-employed business owner. He owns Lurking Class Skate Shop (located in downtown Salisbury). We support each other's business endeavors and spend most of our days together and with our children.
My daughter Lois is 3 years old, and my son, Sonny, is 1 year old. The vast majority of my time is spent with them. I often joke that I am a “nap-time” business owner (for now). We are a homeschooling family, which really means an adventuring-together family. We spend lots of time outside with our dogs, chickens, and goats. I love the beach, hiking, kayaking and mostly swimming. I am a distance swimmer and you can often find me in the pool/river/ocean. We love to travel, experience new things and soak up all the beauty of this amazing world! I also love to cook, bake, read, roller skate, run, climb trees, listen to birds… I am pretty much just an experience junkie!
What is your favorite yoga pose and why?
My favorite pose has to be crow pose, I think. I love practicing and teaching crow pose because it requires focus, self-compassion and courage. I love to see students surprising themselves when both feet lift off. But even more, I love to see the persistence people bring to crow pose. Often, it takes many attempts without lifting the feet- just building strength and courage, and exploring the limits of your stability (sometimes falling). I love to see people stick with the effort and detach from the results.
Is there anything else you'd like to tell your students?
I would tell my students, thank you! From the bottom of my heart, thank you for allowing me to do what I love. Thank you for your trust, your focus, your effort... And thank you for sustaining this beautiful community we have built together. Bryan and I are so grateful that Lois and Sonny will grow-up embraced by such loving, accepting people. Thank you for your support!