Tell me about your beginnings with yoga.
I grew up in California and worked in the health and fitness field there. At one point, I worked for a very high end athletic club that had amazing resources and forward thinking programing – including yoga – so I was exposed to it. I took my first TT in 1995 there taught by a physical therapist, before Yoga Alliance even existed (Yoga Alliance was founded over the course of several years, but became an official non-profit organization with standards and a registry of teachers in 1999).
Yoga didn’t really become a spiritual practice for me though until my mother became ill with breast cancer in 1998. She passed away in 2000. I needed to know where my mom was going. I needed to know death. I oddly found great solace in savasana in every practice as well as the deeper teachings that helped me connect life and death. I also found solace in the practice of letting go of needing security in another person and instead found solace in getting more grounded in my own mind and body.
In addition to practicing yoga regularly, I decided I wanted to study yoga as a science – How the heck was this helping me deeper inside? How? And what was it about yoga that was helping my neck injury feel better? I then began to teach in 1998 at a couple of health clubs in Cleveland. In 2007, my dad was diagnosed with cancer. I was a much better caregiver because of yoga, for myself and my dad. And I noticed I wasn’t afraid this time. I knew death better. I had helped my mother die and I was able to do the same for my dad with more confidence, grace and ease. I was also better at relating to others who were saying goodbye to him as well. I’m not saying it was easy! I was stronger and better equipped.
Tell me why you love yoga.
While I’ve owned 5 yoga studio spaces over the years – 4 of them on my own – and taught hundreds of teachers, but truth be told: I don’t love yoga. It’s very confronting. I have a difficult relationship with yoga – which is really just with myself – but I practice yoga anyway because it’s a path that improves my relationships. It’s a darshana, a Sanskrit term that means “a way of seeing”. Practicing yoga improves my vision in whatever it is that I’m seeing: my husband, my kids, my work. Yoga helped me continually develop a toolbox of skills and practicing yoga regularly means I continue to cultivate my skills. Therefor, whatever happens that I perceive as a challenge, I then go to my toolbox. Yes, it’s crowded in there and somewhat messy, but THIS IS WHY WE PRACTICE. To know where stuff is in the toolbox and find the appropriate tool with greater ease. “I can’t!” becomes, “Yes, I can. I have the tools and I know where they are.”
What is your superpower? What are you great at?
My keen interest and ability to help make sense out of complicated things. In teaching yoga, I find out a person’s context, or the overarching context of a group, and use examples and analogies that they will relate to. For example, my engineering client understood my systems approach to how the body works when discussing how his neck pain related to his legs. My NFL athlete client who wants more hip mobility understands when I cue “lift like a deadlift in the weight room” when he’s coming from a forward fold to Tadasana in sun salutation. Another private client is a hunter and immediately understood why soft tissue care with therapy ball rolling was going to be crucial to his flexibility in his 80 year old body by comparing a juicy filet dinner with his beef jerky snack. There’s yoga in your anatomy – connectivity – and through your direct experience and my knowledge of human physiology, together we connect the dots.
What exactly is it that you do now and do you still teach yoga?
What I do now is so much more than yoga and definitely informed by my personal yoga practice.
I focus now on helping people manage pain, prevent injury and recover from injury by teaching them how to move better throughout their day.
I work with companies and sports teams to do this through a variety of programs where I empower individuals in ways that give them more energy, help them sit at a desk longer work better with standing desks, help them sleep better and increase overall performance.
I also train teachers to do this work and work with a select few one-on-one private clients.
I also teach a few public classes at The Atma Center in Cleveland Heights:
Mondays at noon: Yoga Tune Up®
Wednesdays at 6pm: Move Well Flow
Thursdays at 4pm: Yoga Tune Up®