How long have you been practicing yoga?
Since early 2009, when my sister-in-law tricked me into going to a hot 90-minute class for my first ever yoga experience. We had just finished lunch. I regretfully had eaten a huge bowl of tomato-basil soup. I definitely felt like I was going to die during 95% of the class, but it got better…obviously.
A few important takeaways: 1. I do not recommend soup as a pre-fuel option for hot yoga, or any fitness-related activity. It is a very bad choice. 2. It is a good idea to step outside of your comfort zone and try something new every now and then. You never know what doors it may open!
What is your favorite thing about practicing yoga?
Yoga was really challenging to me at first, because I realized I couldn’t rush through it. I had to find a lot of patience to focus on things I used to ignore - like breathing, and the direction of my thoughts. It gets me out of my head, helps me to eliminate distractions to reset my thinking patterns, and teaches me to find gratitude in the simpler things. The very best part about yoga is that it gets better with time. The more we practice, the more we learn, the more we grow, the better we feel, and we see it start to positively impact all areas of our lives. It’s just too good.
Tell us about your favorite yoga pose.
My favorite pose changes as I work to advance my practice. I usually gravitate towards something that I barely have a grasp on, or can't quite figure out. Right now, I am loving pincha mayurasana (forearm balance) because I can feel the progress even though I still use a backboard, aka the wall. I have been practicing weekly and feel everything becoming stronger and my back starting to straighten out. I added strength training back into my weekly routine about a year ago to help me get stronger because I kept pulling muscles in my back and shoulders when trying to get into inversions and arm balances. This has helped me tremendously!
Tips I have learned through my own practice and other teachers’ help: squeeze legs together, look forward, reach through balls of the feet, tuck hips, hug core in, sound effects help…
Physical benefits of the pose: strengthens upper body (shoulders, back, arms), helps with balance and core strength, stretches chest, shoulders, neck and belly.
Mental/emotional benefits: calms nervous system, helps to relieve stress, and builds concentration.
What is your favorite thing to do other than yoga?
An unusual answer: my job! I get to interact with amazing people all day long who are seeking to improve their lives through nutrition, yoga or making some other healthy change. All of my energy goes towards helping others find their healthiest selves, and it’s inspiring and uplifting. My clients and students amaze me daily – I am truly lucky. Aside from that, I enjoy catching up with friends, cooking while blaring Spotify (it’s a great way to learn new music, unwind and it definitely makes cooking more fun!), being outside as long as I’ve taken my Flonase, and I’m still waiting for the day when I get asked to play pick-up basketball at the Dowd Y when I’m passing through. Before yoga was my “sport,” it was basketball, and I miss it often. Maybe I will see if Maria can set up a hoop in the parking lot behind Om.
Where are you from?
Winston-Salem, NC *home of Krispy Kreme & Texas Pete!
What is your favorite food?
Pizza…from Mellow Mushroom. The Magical Mystery Tour if we are getting specific!
Do you have any pets?
Chewy! He is part mini schnauzer, part Rottweiler. I did a DNA test because I kept getting asked what kind of dog he was. Sometimes I still think he is part goat. Here’s a picture so you can see him for yourself!
What is your favorite color?
Olive green! Fun fact: I am partially colorblind. I have a difficult time telling differences between certain shades of reds/oranges and blues/purples. Now that you know this, please refrain from pranking me at the studio.
What is your favorite TV show?
Beverly Hills, 90210 - the original series. Dylan and Brenda forever, and I’m so glad Donna Martin graduated.
What does the “yoga lifestyle” mean to you?
Being mindful of your thoughts and actions, having compassion for others, and approaching the practice with as much open-mindedness and humility as possible. That is where the growth happens, and things seem to fall into place with minimal effort. When we force the growth, we tend to get stuck. We have to let our practice unfold as are bodies and minds are ready. Yoga is a metaphor for life in my book. It can be so counterintuitive sometimes, but the more we practice it, the more we see the magic that happens on our mats also show up in our lives. It’s pretty incredible.
What is one thing you want all of your students to take away from their practice?
There is always some place to take your practice regardless of how you are feeling. Some days you will feel “off” and it feels like your practice just isn’t going how you’d like. Then other days you will surprise yourself and wonder how you got so strong and skilled. This is the practice – yoga is both empowering and humbling. We find that sweet spot and understand the practice the more we come to our mats. I want my students to have fun, learn to love themselves a little more and find peace each time they come to their mats. At the end of the class, I want them to leave feeling better than when they walked in the door. Those are my objectives as a teacher. Also, we have all been beginner yogis at some point, and it is ok to start at anytime!