1. How long have you been teaching Yoga? What does your practice mean to you, personally?
I've been teaching yoga for 10 years now, but my style has shifted over the years. Even though I was raised by hippie type folk, I discovered yoga on my own to help alleviate my intense back and joint pain that the doctors couldn't explain. It turned out that I had an SI joint misalignment that yoga helped to heal. I was drawn to the practice because of physical pain, but grew to love the solace that it offers. I feel like yoga peels back the layers of life and returns me to my true self.
2. How long have you taught Yoga in the Boston area? What's your experience with Yoga in Boston?
I've been teaching the entire 10 years in the Boston area, beginning in gyms and expanding to yoga studios. I began teaching more of a hatha class based on the viniyoga tradition, but as vinyasa grew in popularity I realized how much I loved to flow. My classes now reflect both the alignment and therapeutic benefits of hatha with the meditative feel of flow. I also teach private classes for those who want to focus on something specific in their practice or for those who have an injury that they are trying to heal.
3. What is the difference between Yoga and Pilates?
Yoga is an ancient tradition that has evolved over the centuries. It is based more on a philosophy of meditation and quieting the mind. Pilates borrows from yoga in a lot of ways and is a more modern practice that focuses a lot on core strength and supporting the integrity of the spine. Both are wonderful in their own way, but I tend to appreciate the relaxation and inward focus that yoga offers. Combining the two is probably a great idea since they definitely complement each other.
4. What do you tell your beginner students to focus on their practice?
I tell beginners that the first three classes can be tough because you so concerned with figuring out the poses and you aren't truly breathing yet. The first class you may feel overwhelmed, but by the second class you will remember a few of the poses and by the third class you might be able to link breath with motion which is what makes yoga relaxing. Give it a few classes and try a bunch of different styles. You may be more drawn to an intense physical practice like Power Yoga or a more meditative stillness based practice like Yin. And remember that the breath is more important than the pose, what is happening within you as you approach a pose is more enlightening than perfecting a pose. As you deepen your yoga practice, you will get to know yourself on many levels. And try not to be intimidated. I love the quote by Judith Lasater - "Yoga class is a support group for people who can't do yoga."
5. What are 5 benefits from doing Yoga?
Obviously, flexibility and toning. But maybe the most beneficial side effects of yoga are learning how to breathe again, detoxing from stress, and quieting the mind.
6. What would you tell your students to help them stay motivated when reaching their goals?
You never regret coming to the mat. You may regret that slice of pizza or that last drink or sitting on the couch, but you will never regret doing yoga. I always feel better after practice. Even on the days that you are so exhausted, crawling to the mat will make you feel better. The nice thing about yoga is that you can spend half the class in child's pose if you want to, but just breathing and connecting to yourself will make you feel refreshed and replenished. On the days you are stressed and convinced you don't have time for yoga, those are the days you should try to fit in a short practice that will offer you more clarity and relaxation so that you can be compassionate and focused in your life.
7. What challenges should a more advanced Yoga student look for in a class?
Always be a beginner. Be open to trying things in a new way. And sometimes the most important thing is to remember not to try so hard. There is a precept in yoga of sthira and sukha, or the concept of balancing effort and surrender. I have seen it time and again, when people are struggling and pushing their way into poses, their body often resists. It seems that when you are patient, breathe and allow your body to open at its own pace that you find the poses that have been elusive. Advanced students often end up with injuries from overstretching or overusing their elbows or wrists, but those injuries can be great teachers and encourage you to modify your practice so that everything becomes fresh again!
8. How often should students do Yoga? And why?
Patabi Jois always said "Practice and all is coming." I think if you do yoga once a week, it is more about stress reduction. Practicing twice a week, you slowly feel your body open and strengthen. But coming to the mat three times a week is where you start to see real transformation! The poses feel more inviting, you feel your body change drastically, even off the mat you are drawn to healthier choices.
9. How does Yoga create flexibility, strength, and mindfulness?
The word "yoga" is sanskrit that roughly translates as "union." Yoga is about reuniting your body and breath and quieting the mind. By linking breath and motion, your body moves more fluidly and you can be led by intuition rather than thought. Also in yoga, breath is a source of "prana" or life force. The fuel for your practice is your breath which allows you to keep going and challenging yourself, but also allows your body to open without struggle. In a way, the poses are all a distraction to immerse you in so much sensation that you stop thinking about anything but what is happening NOW.
10. What are some of your tips on maintaining wellness during the busy holiday season?
I think realizing that you are a better version of yourself when you are less stressed is key. Coming to the mat is actually a gift to everyone around you because you become more compassionate, patient and relaxed. The holidays can be so stressful and draining, so you need to give yourself permission to restore and replenish. Even if it is just a short session before bed, you will feel the effects of your yoga practice in your life.
11. What is your favorite thing about the holiday season?
I love the feeling of coziness that comes around the holidays. There's something magical about the season that reminds you of the wonder of being a little kid. Everyone seems to feel connected and open hearted.
12. What Will be your new year’s resolution?
The Boston winter can seem a bit long for this Florida girl, so I sometimes fall into feeling droopy with the colder days approaching. But I recently had a friend tell me that she was going to focus on the things that make her "glow." I thought this was brilliant advice, so that will be what I focus on in the New Year - going to the yoga mat more, spending time out hiking with my dog, getting together with friends, all the things that make me glow
13. Any additional tips for the holiday season?
I enjoy beginning the new year with a modified cleanse. I am not into extreme cleanses, but just cutting out alcohol, coffee and sweets in favor of hot water with lemon, green tea and lots of fresh food.