When did you start practicing yoga?
My first introduction to yoga was in middle school. I loved to dance and was studying mostly ballet but started taking classes in an arts loft that introduced me to modern dance and yoga. After that I didn’t reconnect with the practice again until I was 26 when I moved to New Jersey.
Were you hooked immediately, or did it take some time for yoga to become part of your lifestyle?
Once I started practicing in New Jersey in 2009, I was hooked. I was new to the area and it was a space where I felt comfortable. I attended as many classes as possible and realized quickly there was more to the practice than just poses. I remember reading a Yoga Journal on a plane to Florida and realizing “I Love Yoga! I want to become a teacher!”
How has yoga helped you overcome personal challenges or obstacles in your life?
(A better question is how did I ever overcome personal challenges and obstacles in life without yoga?!) Yoga is home base for me. Through Yoga I learned that life is a series of challenges and obstacles and that how we respond to the hard times is how we grow and learn more about our True Self.
Do you have any mentors or teachers who have inspired you throughout your yoga journey?
Yes, all along my yoga journey, I’ve been guided by incredible teachers. The student-teacher relationship is a foundational aspect of the practice and the method for sharing Yogic teachings and traditions. The teachers in my first training, Yogini, Devaki and Omkar, had a strong influence on the values I carry with me as a teacher and a student. I am still very close with them.
What are your goals as a yoga teacher?
To offer students an opportunity to feel peaceful. To help students “live” in their bodies. And to provide a safe and supportive space for students to simply be.
What is your teaching style?
I teach mostly corporate yoga and work with students in a 1:1 setting so most classes tend to be gentle with an emphasis on breathing and relaxation. Right now I am delving into more restorative poses. I enjoy supporting students in poses and allowing them to rest deeply; that’s where the healing happens…
What have been some of the biggest benefits you’ve found - mentally, physically and spiritually - since you’ve started doing yoga?
I’ve learned that I am not the thoughts racing through my mind. While it still happens, I can catch my mind running off, getting me worked up or worried about things that are beyond my control or not even true. From years of yoga, I’ve learned to pause and recognize my monkey mind is spinning and I need to slow down, find my breath, and recalibrate.
Yoga has also taught me so much about my body and how to be more aware and connected with it. To listen to my body and treat it with loving kindness.
And the spiritual journey continues to unfold. I find peace and a sense of trust with the spiritual teachings of yoga. I am still just scratching the surface in terms of the texts and scriptures but for me, Yoga serves as a check-in. When I find myself lost, questioning, or at a crossroads, the teachings often guide me or at least ground me.
What has incorporating yoga into your lifestyle taught you about yourself?
This also continues to change with each life transition or new chapter. Largely that I need to slow down. That it is important to enjoy and appreciate the simple beauty in each day. Yoga has also provided the gift of self-inquiry which is not always pleasant but has led me to some breakthrough insights and understanding about my hang ups, motivations, and values.
What is your favorite pose and why?
This is so hard. I have so many favorites. When I had a stronger physical practice I loved inversions and arm balances. They felt empowering. Since I’ve gone through a pregnancy, natural childbirth, and 6 months of motherhood my favorite poses are forward bends, child’s pose and of course savasana.
Do you have a mantra or quote you live by?
Lately, I remind and repeat to myself “Be the person you want your daughter to see” – I guess that is reminiscent of Gandhi’s “Be the Change you want to see in the World.”
Air, Earth, Fire or Water - Which element speaks to you the most in your practice?
Earth. My constitution is very windy and yoga is very grounding and stabilizing for me.
What advice would you give to someone who feels too intimidated to try yoga for the first time?
First, start off with a beginner class and maybe attend one at a community center rather than a gym or high-volume studio, a non-competitive and low-key environment will help. Second, that if you can breathe, you can do yoga. It’s not about how you look in poses, physical flexibility or ability. Rather it is a practice to enhance holistic wellbeing, so what’s most important is that you can relax and be ease.
Our mantra is “Live Limitless,” and we aim to inspire people to pursue their passions free of self-doubt or the pressures of societal norms. How has yoga helped you live limitless?
Yoga has taught me that the only limits are self-imposed. That the barriers of self-doubt and fear are in my mind and can be overcome with consistency, discipline and positive thinking.
If you could design a yoga mat of your own, what would it look like? (because sometimes dreams really do come true).
I love mandalas and find them to be so calming. Just gazing into a mandala helps me reconnect to my breath and see the interconnectedness of life.
If you could go on a yoga retreat anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
India. This is the birthplace of yoga!! I would want to visit and stay at several different Ashrams and be in the presence of great teachers.
Do you have a yoga playlist? If so, what kind of music is on it? (you can also share an actual playlist)
I mix it up with my playlists. Depends on the students and the environment, and type of class.
Is there anything you would have liked us to ask, but didn’t? Answer it!
While I was composing my responses for this blog post, my dear yoga sister, Joell Lanfrank, unexpectedly passed away. Yoga is about living life fully – in the moment with joy – and Joell embodied that spirit. There is so much heartbreak and grief that is being shared among so many people but also an outpouring of love to celebrate her life and all the beauty she brought to this world. When a tragedy like this occurs Yoga offers solace to help accept there is no reason for this loss. In addition, yoga offers perspective to focus on the meaning and richness of her life. Joell, thank you for being my teacher. You will be greatly missed.