When I first encountered yoga, I wasn’t a fan. I thought it was “weird.” It was 1995, and I was a student in the dance department at The University of Texas at Austin. We did yoga on Wednesdays. My dance professor sensed my skepticism and challenged me in pedagogy class to observe and learn to teach Yoga for Seniors.
It was the start of a whole new journey for me. I was amazed at how alive and vibrant these women were. They were tuned in to life at a deeper level than I had seen before. From then on, yoga was part of my regular training routine, and it stayed with me as I moved to New York City to dance professionally. It’s there that I also fell in love and got married.
When I was 27, my father became critically ill.The three weeks he spent in the hospital tested every ounce of my faith and joy. I learned when to fight, and when to let go. I learned to stop praying for what I wanted and began leaning into whatever was. I found within me a strength I didn’t know I had, even as my beloved mentor and spiritual guide was dying.
There was a moment in my grief, crying on my bathroom floor, where the veil between here and hereafter was very thin. It gave way to a depth of peace I had not known before. That peace helped me open the grip of my tightly held fists to let Life flow as it would. I learned I don’t have much control. I learned to let go...completely.
After Dad passed, I started Teacher Training and began exploring the ancient texts of the Sutras, the Bhagavad Gita, and the writing of B.K.S. Iyengar. In 2004 I retired from dancing and moved to Austin, Texas to start a family. I began teaching right away in a beautiful spacious room at a local studio called Yoga Yoga.
During that early time, I needed a strong lineage I could believe in and a teacher who could help me understand it. I taught a lot on themes of fortitude and courage. With my local teacher, Christina Sell, I went deeper in my asana practice than ever before. I was strong, flexible, and growing in understanding the mechanics of the human body.
My husband, Nick, and I had our son in 2005 and daughter in 2007. With motherhood came a new body and a new phase in life. From meditating on strength, I moved to acceptance and grace. It was a time of creativity and problem-solving both in the studio and in the home. I needed a class where I could both teach and be a mother at the same time, so I started Postnatal Yoga. As my babies grew, we needed a class for moms with crawlers and toddlers, so I created one. I wanted to know my own faith better through the lens of yoga, so I developed and taught Body & Soul Yoga at my church for several years.
For 8 years I worked diligently in my lineage of Anusara to achieve their highest certification, a grueling process of written exams and video assessments, only to see the lineage fall due to the abuse of power by its leader. This was a crushing betrayal of trust for many of us. For me, it led to a crisis of faith -- not to mention anger. I launched a campaign of self-inquiry and study, both to figure out how I got there, and to avoid having the same experience again.
Eventually, with palms open again to what may come, I began studying with various teachers and exploring my own philosophy. I evolved from a young 200-hour teacher with a couple classes per week, to an Experienced 500 hour teacher, and eventually a Certified Yoga Therapist teaching six classes per week and working with many clients individually.
In 2019, Yoga Yoga -- my longtime yoga home and community -- was forced to close its doors. It was time to venture out on my own. I rented a space to teach twice a week, and to my great joy, my students came with me! We practiced letting go, going inward, and opening to new possibilities. We strengthened the bonds of our little group, as happens to people who endure things together. We all continued to show up week after week.
That time truly prepared us for the next big adjustment: online yoga during the worldwide pandemic of COVID-19. We haven’t just survived as a community of yoga practitioners; we’ve thrived and we’ve grown! Students from long ago have returned, and new students are joining us every week. Grief and joy, upheaval and surrender, experienced together since March 2020.
This means that by paying attention to what is unfolding in our life, to what is evolving in our practice, we have an opportunity to see the path forward most clearly. Crisis becomes opportunity, and loss gives way to transformation.
Our lives on and off the mat -- emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually -- are not two separate things. They are a reflection of each other. When I sit and tune in before practice each day, it’s like gauging where I am compared to the last time I sat and tuned in. I’m tuning in to the current of my life. Is my mind racing more? Am I agitated? Do I feel calm? Do I hurt? Am I connected to God, or do I feel a sense of separation?
Tuning in to that inner wisdom has been my life practice, and teaching it to others is my life dream.