1. How did you find your way to yoga?
Yoga sort of found me. At a time in my life about 11 years ago, when I was going through some tough personal transitions and heartache, I was mostly numb and maxing myself out to keep the stress and sorrow at bay. Somehow I ended up on a borrowed mat in a yoga class that my friend was teaching in a church on a carpeted floor in a space cleared out alongside, literally, church pews and stained glass. I had stress fractures in my foot, the tightest athletic hamstrings ever, and headaches from clenching my teeth. It’s all sort of a blur but I remember the most unbelievable fatigue and those early yoga classes as the first truly tender thing I had ever done for myself. Ever.
2. What do you do for a living?
I have three daughters, all teenagers now. I was a young mom and happily put aside outside career aspirations to stay at home full time to raise the girls. It’s been the greatest gift to have the option to be their mom before anything else. I’ve almost always had something creative going on the side, and I’ve dabbled in a few part time jobs, including using my grad degree in psychology to work for a neuropsychologist in Portland. But for the past several years I’ve been painting. Painting feels a bit like another essential side of me. It’s a wordless, visceral practice, so much like yoga. Painting for me is very much about dropping all guardedness and getting at what’s gritty and real and true. (you can see her website here…it’s incredible!)
3. Are you able to incorporate your yoga practice into your career or into your daily life off the mat?
From day one, yoga seeped into the rest of my life. Yoga has made me brave. As a mom, this has been crucial. Yoga has taught me to settle into life as it is rather than wish for life to be different. I remember a lightbulb moment on my mat, in David Vaughn’s class one evening many years ago. David had us in some powerful pose like Warrior III and he very sweetly instructed the class to unclench our jaws and relax our faces. This changed me. I hadn’t realized until that moment that I had that choice.
4. What is the best thing about the Lila yoga community?
Yoga is a constant. Which I need, because life is super unpredictable and I’ve learned to rely on a few steady sure-things to settle down, to come back down, into the truth of myself and my life. Lila, the studio I’ve practiced in since the beginning of my practice, before the studio was on Congress Street, and before it was Lila, feels like home. Genell has a beautiful spirit, which she leads with. She’s created a space in which joy and love are tangible, which has in turn attracted a beautiful community of yogis. It’s pretty awesome and I’m very grateful!