An early interest in athletics, spiritual growth and helping others made yoga an inevitable path for me. Physical expression has always been part of my life. As a child, I remember tucking my ankles behind my head — and the satisfaction that came from witnessing my parents’ consternation! Neighborhood friends were mostly boys, so learning to climb trees, swing from ropes, and swim the sound was essential if I wanted to keep up. I relied on this physical confidence later in running, cheerleading, rockclimbing and skiing, and was eventually led to demanding and disciplined yoga teachers who taught humility and dispassion through physical practice. Intrigued by the process of emotional and spiritual growth, I studied counseling and psychotherapy and began a career as a crisis-oriented family therapist, group facilitator and hospital social worker.
Witnessing the vulnerability of my infant daughters when they were born, I began to see the world through more compassionate eyes. Shortly after her birth, one of my daughters experienced a serious medical trauma. I cut back on my work schedule and began searching for non-traditional ways to help her heal. This experience — along with an eventual divorce — cultivated an emotional fortitude and sparked more focused spiritual inquiry. My asana practice softened, my spiritual practice deepened, and I found mentor teachers who could support the gentle unfolding of Grace within. I soon discovered dance and physical play, with its individual expression and potential for intimate — and temporal — connection, and began examination of the principles of Ayurveda, Classical Yoga, and Tantra . . . all rooted in non-dualism (Advaita Vedanta). Even though asana is still a large part of what I teach in public classes, my personal practice (sadhana) is now rooted in Tantric principles and philosophical study. In addition to teaching weekly public classes, I also train and mentor new teachers and support individual students through spiritual, physical and emotional development through private sessions.
I hold my own teachers close to my heart — with great respect and love — and honor their influences by remaining disciplined, reflective and devotional in my own practice. While I have had the privilege of studying with many great teachers, there are a few whose presence in my life remains a steady source of inspiration.
I met Mukunda Stiles at a Yoga Therapy Conference, and was immediately moved by the compassion and high positive regard he demonstrated toward his students. Soon I was traveling regularly from California to New York City in order to complete his Structural Yoga Therapy program. Having studied psychotherapy in graduate school, I came to view Mukunda as the Carl Rogers of yoga therapy, holding his students, his clients and even the homeless on the streets of Manhattan with unconditional positive regard. His vision of the world, of the limitless wisdom of the heart, and his subtle yet profound teachings – always offered, never forced – illuminate a path of compassionate liberation. Before taking mahasamadhi in February of 2014, Mukunda was the author of Structural Yoga Therapy, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy and Tantra Yoga Secrets.
Through Mukunda I met Chinnamasta, and under her guidance and healing began a profound journey of personal homecoming. She worked as an intensive care nurse and trained with Michael Murphy (the founder of hospice), in addition to long-term study in Ayurveda, Classical Yoga, Structural Yoga Therapy and Tantric spiritual mentoring. Her unflinching commitment to love, truth and healing touches all she comes in contact with. To me, she radiates the fire and beauty of the Tantric path, and inspires me to uncover profound inner wisdom in the process.
Together, Mukunda and Chinnamasta embodied the essence of Tantra, the divine dance of life, and supported an opening to Grace in profound and personal ways. Chinnamasta continues spiritual mentorship and Ayurvedic consultation in San Francisco (www.shivashaktiloka.com).
Mark Horner was my first teacher, and although I found him “by accident,” my ongoing study with him was decidedly intentional. Mark is that increasingly rare breed of teacher, one who studies, practices and teaches all aspects of yoga. A dedicated student himself, Mark holds high expectations for his students. His brilliant sequencing, deep understanding of anatomy and precise alignment captivated my attention and cultivated discipline in my body and mind. While in his training program I was immersed in all aspects of yoga and learned various pranayamas, kriyas, bandhas, meditation techniques, Ayurvedic principles, sequencing, adjustments and internal energetics. I hold Mark and his teaching in high regard, and feel blessed to have been ushered into yoga by a teacher of his caliber. His bio and teaching schedule can be found at www.horneryoga.com/www.hathayogashalaeastbay.com.
Through Mark I met and studied with Zhander (Shandor) Remete, founder of the Shadow Yoga forms. Zhander studied yoga and martial arts from the age of six, and developed the Shadow School based on ancient yoga texts, study with Indian martial artists, and his own exploration into various forms of movement, breathwork, marma point therapy, Siddha yoga and internal and cosmic energetic principles. My study with Zhander included the practice of several fixed forms, which he developed through the course of his own study and research. These intensely demanding physical forms transformed my asana practice, inspired a deeper confidence in my body and fortified my passion for the marriage of strength and movement (dance) www.shadowyoga.com.
Yoga Alliance (ERYT-500), Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher @ 500-hour level
Structural Yoga Therapist, New York, 700 hour Certification
Yogaworks, Certified Teacher Trainer and Mentor
Yogaworks, Certified Yoga Teacher (500 hour)
Hatha Yoga Shala, Certified Yoga Teacher (350 hour)
AFAA, Certified Yoga Teacher (100 hour)
5500 hours post-certification teaching experience
M.Ed, Counseling, University of Puget Sound
BA, International Studies, Willamette University