As a Student
My journey with yoga began with a Denise Austin VHS tape. Yup. All the spandex glory of 1990’s exercise tapes is where this all started for me.
Several years after the Denise Austin tape became a thing, I walked into my first studio yoga class. It was the summer of 2008 and I’d just started my first civil engineering internship. I showed up to my mat to unwind and to feel grounded when so much of my world was shifting around me.
It totally worked.
It was a really stressful time in my life, but during my yoga practice I felt a sense of much needed presence and quiet. I remember when it began surprising me to open my eyes and be reminded that I was in a room full of people. It was a moment that brought me back to the “now” that existed all around me, while I was simultaneously tuned into the “now” that existed inside me. I was so amazed by it! I started going to the studio every day after work. This was my first spark with practicing in a community, under the care and guidance of a teacher. A teacher at the front of the room, and myself as my own teacher, too.
I returned to the University, and once again my practice faded into the background of the things I considered priorities. I’d bust out my Denise Austin tape every once in a while, or I’d attend the occasional community class at a studio or the student center.
When I graduated and began working as an engineer, I felt a pull to practice in studio again. Pretty quickly, I began to tune into the natural connection with my body that I’d begun exploring a few years earlier. I’d find myself standing in tadasana with eyes closed, heart beating, breath steady and mind quiet. I would feel completely anchored and peaceful. As I let myself open to it, these moments became more and more frequent. They began to expand. I began to truly feel present as a soul in my body, both on my mat and off. I learned how to give myself space around daily stresses and bring myself back to calm. I began to study yoga deeper. I read books about yoga philosophy and anatomy, and biographies of inspirational teachers. I just kept learning more, and it just kept inspiring me more.
As a Teacher
In 2017, about 9 years after I walked into that first studio class, I traveled solo to Los Pargos in Costa Rica to study with Soma Yoga Institute and complete my 200-hr teacher training. There are some experiences that are so personal and special that there are no adequate ways to describe them. Ever had one? I hope you have, or that one day you do. This is how I feel when I think about Costa Rica. Never have I felt such an incredible connection to myself, to a community of amazing people, and to the natural world. I felt like I was literally floating the entire time, but at the same time more grounded than I have ever been before. I left infused with a sense of purpose. For one of the first times in my life, I felt like I was doing exactly what I should be doing. I was so ready to share it.
A Practice for Life
Since returning home to Michigan, teaching has continued to show me the gifts of yoga in its many forms. From my yogi family at my home studio Seva Yoga in East Grand Rapids, to those I’ve met and studied with during my travels, this practice connects us all.
As a student, I am always learning. As a teacher, my goal in class is to create a space for connection through breath, organic movement, building strength and self-love. In my classes, expect a challenge, but to stay light and smile!
Love and namaste- I will see you on the mat!