I took my first yoga class in 2007 but it wasn't until the loss of a dear friend that I had the courage and confidence I to quit my corporate job and get yoga certified. It was something I had always dreamed of but never done anything about.
One thing loss gives us is perspective. One of my all-time favorite authors, Don Miguel Ruiz, explains this perfectly in his book "The Four Agreements". While many of us fear death, he sees it as the best teacher, calling it the "angel of death". What does the angel of death teach us you may ask? How to truly be alive. We don't know if we will die today, or tomorrow, or in 50 years. The angel of death teaches us to live each and every day as if it is the last day of our lives. To be completely open and know that there is nothing to be afraid of. What's even more, when you live like this, you treat each and every person with love, because it may be the last time you see that person. To some it may sound morbid, but to me it was freeing.
With this new lens on life, I traveled to Bali in 2015 and studied yoga under my beloved teachers Stephen Bethel and Mindi Batson. It was everything you would imagine...magical, blissful, beautiful, but it was also hard work, and I'm not referring to physical work. They lead me to dig deep and face my fears, regrets, pain, sorrows "shadows" as they liked to call them, and peel away each layer in order to become a lighter being. After all, what is the use in carrying around all that extra baggage and hurt?
I try to emulate my perspective and life experiences in my teaching. Though my presence as a teacher is often described as "warm, soft, sweet and filled with love", I do not hesitate to bring up the stuff people don't like to talk about. I will ask you to dig deep into those darker places just as my teachers did for me.
I believe in the healing and nurturing power yoga has both physically and mentally. I see yoga transform people every day. Oftentimes the effects are subtle, sometimes they are more significant and life-changing. I have personally witnessed the power of a yoga practice help heal PTSD symptoms, give hope and health to a woman with cancer, and provide a place of surrender and safety to my best friend who lost her brother. I don't believe yoga is responsible for healing them of the pain or sorrow, I think it paves the way for them to heal themselves. It sweeps away the clutter and the fog and brings clarity.
I have recently decided to go back to school to become a doctor of physical therapy. My goal is to weave the eastern, yogic tradition with classic western education for a unique healing experience.