How did you begin your yoga practice?
I think, in a way, I began my yoga practice years ago at Plum Village (with Thich Nhat Han) in the South of France. I had just left the Mormon religion, and I was searching for something spiritual, something that could guide me in my life, but that wasn’t tied to any one particular religion or dogma. My first day at Plum Village, the monk said that Buddhist and Yogic philosophy are “practices…they are not religions to fight over, go to war over, or even hang on argument on…” I think this sentence changed me and started me on a pursuit of Yogic and Buddhist thought and practices. However, it took me years and years to come to the actual physical practice of yoga even as I studied it and meditated. It wasn’t until I had my PhD, had the job I wanted, and I had accomplished all the ego-centric goals of my life that I found myself very unhappy, confused, and looking for meaning. At that time, I took a job in New Orleans at Tulane University teaching—searching, truly—for what? I didn’t know yet.
In retrospect, I was after was some kind of offering for my soul. I signed up for yoga classes while there, began to feel something purposeful and real in my daily yoga practice there, and then sought to deepen my knowledge of yoga by signing up for Nathalie Croix’s Shanti Shala teacher training program.
And the growing began…
Why do you practice yoga?
Two reasons mainly: presence and softening.
My years of school have given me a tendency to over-rely on my words. That is, I tend to be a kind over-articulator of experience and I gravitate toward language and philosophical ideas. BUT: when I practice yoga, I am freed of all of that. I can trust the practice itself. I can be in my breath, my body, present.
I will never forget my first few days in Plum Village when I started to feel this softening toward the world and everyone and everything in it. At that time, I was not an animal person, but I recall the various monastery cats and the one blind cat that became my friend. At first, all these cats made me a little uneasy (are they dirty, I wondered?), but within days I felt profound softness for them as if they were a gift. I love how easily cats give affection and accept affection. This softness came through the practices of yoga and mindfulness meditation we did daily, and it is this softness that I think we all need to embody and hold within us. I practice yoga to remind myself to be softer.
Where did you receive your training? When were you certified?
I received my training at Shanti Shala in New Orleans, LA with Nathalie Croix 2018-2019
Why do you teach yoga?
I am a teacher through and through. It is the thing I’d do if no one paid me, but what I really want to teach is not English nor grammar; I want to teach others to breathe, to find meaning and connection for themselves. I notice, too, that I am happiest teaching, practicing, and planning yoga, and so I go toward this happiness.
What else do you do with your time?
I read, write, teach, workout, and try to travel as much as possible!
What is your favorite yoga pose and why?
I think my favorite might be child’s pose--Balasana. I love the reprieve it offers a body and its capaciousness--there is still so much to see and explore in the pose even as you’ve repeated it thousands of times.
How would you describe your classes?
My classes attempt to balance the 8 limbs and yogic philosophy with the physical practice. I want my classes to offer a space of work and peace, difficulty and thoughtfulness, breathwork with observation of mind. To this end, I try to create classes that ask you to consider what you want off the mat as you practice it on the mat.
Is there anything else you'd like to tell your students?
Come practice with me!