How did yoga become a part of your life?
I first found yoga when I was about 15 or 16. I had no idea what I was getting into other than I had heard about the mind, body and breath connection with yoga. As a teenager I was looking for a physical practice where I could combine all of these and find more balance in my life. I bought a DVD and checked out a library book on yoga at my school and I would do yoga in my bedroom. My practice at this time was inconsistent and it wasn't until attending college that I began taking regular classes at the downtown YMCA in Columbus, OH. This is where I had my first actual guided practices with a teacher in Vinyasa yoga. Since then yoga has become a regular part of my lifestyle both physically and spiritually. I have found that it's always there for me no matter what chaos or transitions I may be going through and this is what has led me to maintain a devoted practice.
What does it mean for you to be “something more” as part of your yoga practice and teaching?
Sometimes I find that being something more is as simple as letting go of things that aren't working. When I can explore this through my practice it helps me to come back to why I am a yoga teacher and I can better serve my students, my family and the community. In my teachings I enjoy weaving in spiritual principles while encouraging students to challenge themselves but to also be compassionate with themselves when it's needed.
Who has been your greatest influence and why?
So many people have influenced me in positive ways and I don't think I can narrow it down to one. I am grateful to have trained with many wonderful national and local yoga teachers and am inspired by each and every one of them. In addition the people that I have contact with on a daily basis, my husband, kids, friends, the teachers and students at Day Yoga are the ones that inspire me the most because they remind me to live up to my fullest potential and to be of service to others.
If you had to pick one mantra to share with your students, what would it be?
My favorite mantra has always been Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu which translates to “may all beings everywhere be happy and free and may my own thoughts, words & actions contribute to this happiness in some way.” This mantra reminds me that we are all on our own path but if there is something that I can do to be of service to other beings whether it's through helping a friend or a stranger, engaging in non-violent communication or eating a cruelty-free diet then maybe I'm helping to make the world a happier place. I really do believe that change starts with the individual on a small scale and has a ripple effect that can change the world.
What are you excited about for the New Year?
There is so much to be excited about not just at Day Yoga but also for myself personally in 2016. We've just started our Day Yoga Community Outreach Program and we hope to greatly expand our activities this upcoming year. This program has been in the works for the past few years but the difference now is that we're officially a non-profit and can begin accepting donations in the community and through fundraising events so that we can compensate our wonderful teachers for their services, and purchase supplies such as mats. Covering teacher expenses is huge and it means our program will be more sustainable and successful as we progress. We can start to work on long-term projects bringing yoga to schools, prisons, shelters, hospice, nursing homes, cancer patients etc. If we can work with the same group of people over an extended period of time they will receive more lasting benefits from yoga and other healing modalities. We are currently accepting donations on our website and we also have some events planned such as a Wine and Yoga Class on Jan. 22nd and a Gala event later in the year where 100% of the proceeds will go to the Day Yoga Community Outreach Program.
I'm also leading my second retreat in Costa Rica in February with co-teachers Brandy Erazo & Chelsea Wildman. We have an amazing schedule planned during the retreat of yoga and workshops and I'm so thrilled to be returning to one of my favorite countries.
On a more personal level we will be welcoming our fourth baby near the end of April. Since becoming pregnant I have lightened up my teaching schedule quite a bit and am looking forward to getting back to teaching some vinyasa classes this Summer and taking Mom & Baby classes with the new little one! In the meantime I will still be co-leading the Costa Rica retreat, leading the teacher training programs, teaching my weekly Restorative Yoga Class at Brown St. and subbing when I can!