I’m originally from Upstate New York, and I moved to Santa Barbara in 2001.
My first experience practicing Yoga was a private lesson with my older stepsister, Janice Gates, in the summer of 1995. It was the first time I ever felt at home in my body. That was the beginning of nearly 20 years of practice with many amazing teachers from many different traditions.
I began teaching Yoga in 2004 and have taught at Yoga Soup in some way since its doors opened in 2006. Yoga Soup has also been the sweet home of the Yoga program I developed for United Cerebral Palsy/Work Inc.
What I love about Yoga is that it gives me the opportunity to get real with myself on many levels. My practice offers me time to truly see myself and to hear my inner dialogue. I see my own judgments, worries, and fears. I also see what inspires me, what gives me joy, what calms me, and what makes me feel strong. I use this knowledge to set intentions for my practice and for my life. My Yoga practice plays an integral role in my personal growth.
Yoga enhances my connection to my deeper self and to my purpose. It helps me feel a sense of peace and clarity. Practicing gives me time to see the causes of my suffering. I am then able to work with them, even if the situation is something beyond my control.
When I feel challenged, I ask for help from my support system of family, friends, mentors, and teachers. I meditate, I pray, I write in my journal, I go for walks in nature. Sometimes I just snuggle with my dogs. I always come home to my mat. I breathe, I move, I get quiet and I ask to learn what it is that I need. Slowing down and tuning in helps me see things more clearly.
I believe that simple observation of the body, breath, energy, mind, and heart is one of the greatest gifts we can offer ourselves. Yoga empowers me to look within for the answers and wait for them to arrive. By taking care of myself, I can show up for others in a way that is more open and supportive.
From early on in my years of practice, I have been very interested in Yoga Therapy. I have spent a lot of my training studying this healing modality. I am strongly influenced by the teachings of the Krishnamacharya lineage, having studied with teachers directly from this lineage both in India and in the U.S. I blend many of the different styles I have studied over the years to create my own.
Strength training and corrective exercise changed my yoga practice and my teaching. On a physical level, strength training helped to support my once hypermobile joints and taught me healthier movement patterns. I weave together my knowledge of Western exercise science, anatomy, and movement with the traditional teachings of Yoga. Using these tools, I create a practice that aligns the physical body, balances the energy, and helps to focus the mind.
A recent passion of mine has been teaching self-massage with Yoga Tune-Up therapy balls using The Roll Model Method®. I am very excited to share this in my new class. It’s a great way to combine my knowledge of massage therapy and Yoga. People love it! It’s empowering to learn how to treat your own pain or give yourself a massage when you really need it.
People who practice self-care inspire me. Self-care can take the form of yoga, bodywork, breath-work, meditation, corrective exercise, self-massage, mobility work, and relaxation. My classes and private sessions include all of these things, because I love to support the process of healing.
Music can be a great way to enhance the mood during class, although sometimes I like to keep things quiet so the experience of the student is not altered by external stimuli.
Some of the songs I recently like to play are:
Three Aums – Nada Sadhana and Kevin Courtney
Afterglow – Jose Gonzalez
Enchanting City -DJ Drez
Ten Tigers -Bonobo
Leaving Florida -The Album Leaf
Natural Cause- Emancipator
You are Beautiful and Amazing – The Candlepark Stars
Being in nature and surrounded by loved ones is often a way for me to feel more deeply aligned with my Yoga practice. I love disconnecting by spending time at our cabin, taking beach walks, or hiking with my husband and our dogs. I also love hiking in the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains to places with big trees and freshwater pools. It is so peaceful to be surrounded by natural beauty.
Yoga Retreats recharge my batteries, and I try to take at least one every year. I also take personal retreats alone or with my husband somewhere remote and beautiful. This year we went to the Big Island of Hawaii. It was so rejuvenating. Snorkeling is a great way to practice pranayama!