When and how did you come to yoga?
It was about 13 years ago at YMCA club, I was taking my children to their activities and wanted to “kill” some time so I signed up for the evening vinyasa class which was already in progress. I missed a few basic alignment classes, and o boy, was I lost! It was my first year in US, English is my second language, so needless to say I was constantly looking around and trying to imitate what the majority of class was doing. Sun Salutations didn’t make any sense, down dog felt really weird, I was barely able to touch my toes in forward fold… Lots of frustration, anxiety, confusion throughout that first hour, all the way up until Savasana time came… The way my first teacher Erin pressed down my shoulders, the way she guided us through the final relaxation – I was hooked, I felt connected to myself, to something larger than myself… And here I am some years later still walking this path.
Why did you start teaching yoga?
There is a saying that there are two ways to spread the light – be the candle or a mirror that reflects it. I think of myself as of that mirror. I like to share with my students what I learned from my own practice, my teachers, books and wise people. Yoga has changed my life in so many different ways, it became my life’s philosophy, I love it and want to spread this love around, besides I am a teacher by profession so my dharma or duty is to teach, to be a messenger.
What is your favorite pose?
There are so many I cannot distinguish one. It’s like someone asked me about my favorite veggie – I love them all, they are all good for you!! Usually my body loves back bending, arm balances and inversions challenge and energize me, standing asanas ground me and Savasana brings me back to my Self.
Who inspires your teaching?
My students who are my teachers, my yoga teachers, my yoga practice, my husband, my family, books, my favorite authors Eckart Tolle, Paulo Coelho, news, my dog, music, moon, weather.
Tips for beginners:
Enjoy your beginners mind while you can, Zen master Shunryu Suzuki said: “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few”.
1. Imitate other people if the teacher’s verbal cueing doesn’t make any sense to you at the beginning, feel free to take a good visual around the room in your first classes, after some time you will become more aware of your body and will get the “idea” of proper alignment as you practice. 2. Stay “inside” not “outside” the pose, forget the esthetics, defy the judgement, be ready to meet yourself on your mat as you are. 3. Shtiram sukham asanam – according to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras posture should feel steady and yet comfortable, balancing these two forces – ease and effort, strength and flexibility – is a core principle of physical practice. 4. Use props as/if needed: blocks, straps, blankets to modify, to deepen your practice but remember – the best prop is your open mind, allow the unexpected to happen, be ready to move out of your comfort zone. 5. Don’t have any expectations because when you don’t meet your expectations you get frustrated, which defies the purpose of yoga, allow the benefits of yoga to come to you organically as you practice 6. Think years not months or weeks, when you think yoga, think lifetime – that’s why it’s called practice 7. Have an intention which allows you to stay present and current in your practice as everything in life constantly changes.
What’s your favorite quote?
Sri T. Krishnamacharya: “Yoga is the process of turning the impossible into the possible and then over a lifetime of work transforming the possible into a grace”.