When did you start practicing yoga?
I started practicing yoga sporadically during my freshman year of high school, but by junior year I was regularly incorporating meditation and yoga into my daily life.
Were you hooked immediately, or did it take some time for yoga to become part of your lifestyle?
In the very beginning I started yoga by watching youtube videos, just looking for a workout since I never liked going to the gym. I fell in and out of it for a while. I came back to the practice later on, and I guess the time was right for me to embrace the lifestyle. Everything seemed to click into place, and I say that in the most cliche way possible. When you find something that feels good and improves your life, you just know.
How has yoga helped you overcome personal challenges or obstacles in your life?
To put it simply, yoga has helped me feel comfortable and safe and at home within myself. We all go through challenges in life; and, whether circumstantial or personal, it is important to be able to trust yourself and trust the universe that things will work out. Practicing yoga and embodying the philosophies and morals of a yoga lifestyle has improved not only the way I think, but also the way I act. For me, yoga is about finding the strength and wisdom of the entire universe within yourself. Once you understand this, you become unstoppable.
Do you have any mentors or teachers who have inspired you throughout your yoga journey?
Katie and Crystal, my teachers at the Radiant Heart Yoga School, have been huge mentors for me. They set incredible examples of how to embody the universe within you while manifesting a unique and extraordinary personality. Their kindness and passion will continue to inspire me. Additionally, my other trainees each became a mini mentor for me throughout our teacher training and still after graduation. We all constantly taught and learned from each other, building each other up.
What are your goals as a yoga teacher?
As a yoga teacher, all I aspire to do is make people smile and love themselves as much as they deserve to be loved. I want to share what I have learned with my students and learn what all my students have to share with me.
What is your teaching style?
I would describe my teaching style as pretty freestyle. Within vinyasa yoga, there is so much room for creativity and expression in the flow. Being able to move in ways that feel good and feeling the power in connection to your breath is what I love most about asana practice. Because of this, I really develop flows by just listening to my body and feeling it out.
What have been some of the biggest benefits you’ve found - mentally, physically and spiritually - since you’ve started doing yoga?
I am so much stronger now than I ever imagined I’d be - mentally, physically, and spiritually. The three go hand in hand I think. Strength in your mind and strong confidence and will lead to a strong physical body. Through this tranquil yet disciplined lifestyle, you become stronger spiritually, which only goes on to strengthen your overall yoga practice.
What has incorporating yoga into your lifestyle taught you about yourself?
Before learning about yoga, I was always extremely frustrated about my spirituality. I was raised very strictly Roman Catholic, and for some reason it never felt quite right. One of the biggest benefits I’ve found through yoga is my comfort in being spiritual. I know now that the divine is everything and everything is the divine. Our energy and our souls are all connected, flowing eternally throughout the universe. This parallels my scientific side, mirroring the law of conservation of matter and energy. To be able to reconcile the scientist and the hippie in me is comforting. Through yoga I am able to learn more and more about who I am and what I am passionate about and love myself along the way.
What is your favorite pose and why?
Does savasana count? Every single time I think I have an answer this question I seem to learn how to do a new pose, which then becomes my favorite. I have always loved ardha chandrasana, or half moon pose. The combination of strength, flexibility, and focus needed for this pose makes it perfectly challenging. I feel beautiful in it.
If you could design a yoga mat of your own, what would it look like? (because sometimes dreams really do come true)
It would have the milky way on it. Our home galaxy within the entire universe. It would be so cool to practice on the universe while feeling the universe within myself.
Do you have a mantra or quote you live by?
Om mani padme hum. The mantra of compassion. There is no direct translation, but Tibetan Buddhists believe that this mantra evokes the compassion of the universe. For me, it just reminds me to be kind always- to myself and to others. I have a poster on my wall with a picture of Buddha that says “Don’t be a dick” -Buddha. Essentially it’s the 21st century’s mantra of compassion.
If you could go on a yoga retreat anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
ICELAND. I’ve never been but my soul has always been drawn there. The history and culture are so interesting, and the landscape literally looks like another planet. Practicing and learning there would be breathtaking.
Air, Earth, Fire or Water - Which element speaks to you the most in your practice?
Definitely earth. I like to joke that since I’m tall I constantly have to bring my energy back down and out of the clouds. My mind often does feel too spread out and wild, so channeling the earth element and grounding down centers my being whenever I practice.
What advice would you give to someone who feels too intimidated to try yoga for the first time?
Yoga is becoming more and more popular, so I definitely understand how intimidating it can be to start. But, you have to remember that all the people you see doing split handstands and crazy poses all had to start somewhere too. Life is too short to be scared to fail or not be good enough. Just begin now and you will thank yourself later.
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 helped me to realize that most of the limits and restrictions I put on myself were completely bogus. You can’t control society, or how other people think or act or judge. The only thing you can control is your life, so live limitless and live happy.