1. How would you describe yoga?
At its peak it feels like magic, at all other points it’s a meticulous science experiment in which we observe our personal experiences and make adjustments to align with what feels good and right for our bodies and lives.
Our nervous system numbs us to habitual bodymind patterns (in figures there are new things to watch out for!) so intimate relationships, a yoga guide, nemesis, mirror, or yoga pose might help us to see our patterns and varied perspectives. Then we get to choose, how do I want to act now? Since breaking patterns and stepping into our authentic selves can be scary as sh*t, yoga and life give us innumerable chances to try try try again. Yoga beseeches us to be kind while we navigate through continuous perfect imperfections, to breathe, laugh, and love. It’s hard. It’s good.
Yoga that happens on the mat is unique and powerful as movement shifts stagnant energy and alters bodymind chemistry. The unconscious intelligence of the body and conscious perception of the mind starts to synch up. Magic. This is where so many aha moments happen and nourishment begins.
2. How did you find your way to yoga?
I was a three-sport captain, set to play collegiate soccer and lacrosse. In one moment while bending forward my world shifted. My back gave out and for the next year I was unable to sit, walk, hang out with friends, or even lay down like I once did. Sports were out of the question. All I identified with was gone. Doctors and PTs were unable to help.
Eventually I was permitted to do yoga. Imagine this: A proud college athlete getting her butt kicked in a senior citizen yoga class (notice the ego!). It happened. That’s right- there was no way I could touch my toes and forget about holding a darn down-dog! It was humbling beginnings! My priorities were made clear… there was no impressing anyone with my moves, so I best learn to be and act for the sake of self-improvement and love. Big Lesson.
The miracle? I stuck with something I was no good at and returned to play collegiate lacrosse with more life-balance, passion, health and success. My practice was to show up fully, play out of love, and let go of the illusion that I could control the outcome.
Since this injury, I am clear that the mind and body are one and therefore pain and healing must affect both. Yoga lets me honor the two- I mean one! Naturally this was the path I was to continue down!
3. What is your practice life off the mat? How would you say you live your yoga?
Mmmm. I LOVE this question. The practice on the mat is simply an aid to what’s most important, the practice off the mat. Am I being honest… really honest? I mean honest about my intensions, my feelings, my motivations, and my excuses. Honesty with myself first is the obstacle, then with others. It’s easier to see what I want to see. Next, am I being kind and compassionate not only to others but again with the words and actions I use on myself?
I’m a work in progress. My closest relationships see my biggest strengths and weaknesses. Oh the weaknesses. May I laugh at myself when I fall again! When I teach yoga, I’m not reminding the class about the importance of transitions, honor, alignment, ego, or listening because everyone else needs to be fixed, but because I am in the process, and it seems others find it useful too! We’re in it together.
4. What draws you to the Lila community?
Here’s the scenario, I was 4 Months pregnant and had 2 days to figure out if I’d close my yoga business in NY and move to Portland, Maine to start our new family or stay in NY. I stumbled into Genell’s class late, mat-less and adjusting the sequence to accommodate my growing body. Genell kept a grounded, intelligent, and fluid vibe with a sweet depth of soul. It was familiar. Turns out we share teachers, along with many inquiries about yoga. After moving to ME I took a few more classes and found that all the teachers at Lila have a kind genuine presence. They are creative and all continue to be serious students of yoga simply because their passion drives them to it. This is a crew I’m honored to be a part of.
5. Who is your primary teacher right now?
My daughter Sophia. Holy smokes. If I told you it was a yoga guru it’d be a total lie. She’s 13 months. She’s the Zen teacher who every day teaches me about creating and letting go, about being even when I have the urge to do-do-do. She reminds me to laugh and play. Being a new mom and staying home for the first year is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It makes teaching anatomy all day for days on end feel like a breeze. The paradox of life is staring me in the eyes. Sophia is my challenger and my muse. Life, I bow to you. Totally humbled and eternally grateful.
6. What inspires you to keep teaching?
It’s a magnetic pull. I taught intensively for 10 years. I got to know the ins and outs of the industry, work with teachers who have been in it for 30+ years. I learned that even those people suffer, are imperfect and get injured. I learned that things that yoga heals in the early practitioner, often injures the experienced practitioner. I’ve been an advocate and a skeptic. Stepping back from yoga in this past year gave me a chance to really check in, “Is this still for me, or am I doing it because it’s what I know?” I’m teaching again because there’s something oh so good there, so pure. There’s magic, vulnerability, and exploration to tap into.
Teaching still makes my stomach churn. That’s how I know I’m onto something. After all these years it still scares and inspires me. I am forced to grow and get more honest.
It’s about me and it’s not about me at all. In the process I get the honor of holding space for others to be vulnerable and then find support, grow, be inspired, and open to new possibilities. I’m amazed every day by the practitioners who attend my classes and teach me more than I could learn on my own.
7. 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?
The Alchemist. I’d love to be less cliché but that’s what I’ve got for you! It’s incredibly rich and can be read over and over again.