1. How would you describe yoga?
Yoga is a practice that helps a person forge the connection between the immortal soul within them that is living a temporary human experience. Practiced regularly the eight limbs of yoga help ordinary human beings develop extraordinary skills to relieve the suffering associated with everyday life on this earth in order to have a more joyful existence.
2. How did you find your way to yoga?
I found my way into yoga via teaching aerobics in a gym in the 1980’s in Southern California when my children were 1 and 3 years old. My very first exposure was to Bikram Yoga at an aerobics convention in LA. In 1987 yoga was nowhere near as popular and widespread as it is now. What a wild ride it has been to witness the yoga explosion on this planet!
3. Who is your primary teacher right now?
After 30 years of training and teaching I now rely on my own exploration and the interaction I have with my students to continue to grow. I also learn from online lectures and books and occasional classes I attend at conferences where I am also a presenter. Everything is a learning opportunity when I keep my eyes, ears and mind open.
4. What inspires you to keep teaching?
As an extrovert, I am blessed with more than my share of Tapas, the flame of desire, to keep my passion for teaching alive. I also have a big dose of insatiable curiosity running through my mind at all times. This makes life interesting for Andrew, my husband. He never knows what new idea I am going to unleash in my yoga teaching. He is a good partner for me because his linear thinking helps me find the clarity and stability to weave my new insights into tried and true teachings.
5. What is your practice life off the mat? How would you say you live your yoga?
I am aware of the level of awareness required in order to interact skillfully with people in all different types of relationship, including family, friends, acquaintances and strangers. One of my greatest practices is not needing to be right– I would rather be happy than right. Another practice for me is being kind, especially with the people closest to me. In many moments, I notice I have a choice in how I will respond and it always feels better when I choose a kind response.
6. Do you have a routine or ritualistic way to starting each day? If so, please describe.
I have a few routines. A notable one is drinking a large amount of water in the morning. It re-hydrates me on all levels and brings all of my systems to life. I also spend the first few waking moments of each day in appreciation for all that I have. I know deep down that I will not always have this level of health and this relationship and that my loved ones will not always be here. I take a few moments before arising to acknowledge that. I give thanks for ordinary days.
7. What are some non-negotiables you have in your life right now to maintain balance and health in everyday living?
Putting myself first with extreme self care! In all realms: strength, flexibility and restoration practices. I have been traveling every weekend and teaching workshops for 18 years now and in the past, my own practice would tend to get pushed aside in favor of helping others. My personal life now looks like me taking care of me first and then taking care of others. I am notoriously “other oriented” which serves me as a teacher, wife and mother, but my body is now asking me for more attention daily.
7. What draws you to the Lila community?
I first visited the Lila community two years ago and fell in love with the studio, the students and the city of Portland! Many of my friends from Boston also gather here and I have a great time working with these deeply conscious practitioners. Genell has created an atmosphere that encourages curiosity in her students and that is a quality I hold in high regard.
8. If you would suggest one book to the community to read as an opportunity to deepen their learning on life, yoga, and all things, what would it be?
One of my favorite books is “The Untethered Soul” by Michael Singer. It’s easy to go deep into understanding the concepts he shares and they are life changing. (Of course, I also have to give a shout about my new book “Fearless After Fifty: How To Thrive with Grace, Grit and Yoga”.)