Teacher Profile: Barbara Arens

October has arrived! Our featured teacher of the month is Barbara Arens, or “Barb,” as she is fondly known by many of her students and colleagues.

We checked in with Barb to learn more about her yoga practice, her unique teaching style, and the advice she’d give to students wanting to deepen their practice. Check out our Q&A below, then grab a buddy and drop in to any of her classes throughout October for just $10. That’s 50% off the drop-in rate!

Wednesday 5:45-7 pm (new!) | Core & Yoga (Fifth)
Sunday 9-10 am | Core & Yoga (Cochran)

Yoga Nook: What originally drew you to the practice of yoga? 

Barb: I had been to a few classes in my 20s, but it wasn’t until my 30s that I began practicing yoga more seriously. I picked it back up because of some mild issues I was having with my back, and it was “love at first class.” The asana practice called to me in a way that no other activity did. I was lucky that my instructor taught using Sanskrit and delved into the philosophy of yoga right from the beginning. I can truly say that yoga made my heart sing, and still does to this day.

How would you describe your teaching style? What makes your classes unique? 

My teaching style is very dynamic and challenging, and it can be either slow-paced or a bit faster. The slower the flow, the more time students have to perfect their alignment in the poses. I do prefer a flowing form of yoga because of the artistic beauty of the movement, which is different for every student.

What is your favorite pose and why? 

One of my favorite poses is Ardha Chandrasana because it is such a challenge for me. It makes me go deep inside my body and mind to cultivate the breath and work on my alignment. Some days the pose feels beautiful and serene; other days I feel lucky if I can balance at all. Yoga keeps me humble.

What advice would you share with a student looking to deepen their practice? 

Talk to teachers you admire and ask them questions. Most teachers love to mentor. Also, read the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, which is the core text of yoga covering ethics, meditation, physical postures, and even dealing with situations in daily life.

There are many translations of the Yoga Sutras, and it’s important to find one that resonates with you. At this time, my favorite translation is by Sri Swami Satchidananda. There are stories you can relate to and a complete breakdown of the Sanskrit verses with the teacher’s explanation of their application.

What inspires your teaching? 

The students inspire me. It is such a privilege to share this sacred practice with them. There is so much more to yoga than the asana practice. It dwells within you and becomes part of who you are.


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Running Away to the Circus

As a kid, I always wanted to go to the circus. If I saw a poster on the street or an ad in the newspaper, I would whine to my parents, “Can we go to the circus, pleeeease?” They would always reply, “If you’re a good girl.” They got miles of leverage from this strategy but never paid up, and I was an adult before I had my first experience of a big top at Cirque du Soleil in Santa Monica.

By then, the idea of a circus to celebrate music, movement, flexibility and strength both intrigued and inspired my curiosity. The performance remains one of the most profound experiences of my life. I was astonished and amazed. It was as if a group of alien beings had made a friendly visit to Earth for the evening and invited a few humans along to observe their culture. I was transported.

A decade or so later at a Somatics course in northern California, I met Caroline Wright, an aerial artist who not only qualified for Cirque du Soleil in 2008 but is a teacher of aerial and circus arts. We became fast friends, and I got an inside view of circus lore from the stories and experiences she shared with me.

A gifted somatic educator and bodyworker, Caroline is playful in the presentation of her craft, yet her experience and confidence inspires trust. We welcome her return to our Yoga Source Conference next weekend, where she will present Foundations, Fulcrums and Fun on Saturday, March 11 from 1:30-3:30 p.m.

In Caroline’s workshop, you’ll connect with your inner child and find new ways to use your body in relation to gravity, building body awareness and perception. You won’t want to miss this chance to run away to the circus for an afternoon, and enjoy an exploration of trust, partner work and somatic movement. Sign up here today to reserve your spot.


Teacher Profile: Di Hickman

Here we go, February! This month we’re featuring Yoga Nook teacher and fitness pro Di Hickman. Di recently joined our 200-hour teacher training as assistant, and she teaches weekly classes at both Yoga Nook locations:

Monday 5:45-7:00 pm | Sun Salutations 1&2 (@ Fifth)
Wednesday 10:30-11:30 am | Beginning / Yoga 1 (Cochran)
Thursday 5:45-7:00 pm | Sun Salutations 2 (Cochran)

Read on to learn more about Di’s yoga journey, her background in fitness, and her approach to practice and teaching. Then bring a friend and join her on the mat — her classes will be $10 community classes for the month of February.

What originally drew you to the practice of yoga? How has your practice changed over time? 

I attended my very first yoga class around age 13 and enjoyed it a lot. However, a year later yoga was “out” and Jane Fonda was “in.” So much so that I became a personal trainer and group fitness instructor. Yoga was just something I did occasionally to relieve my stress and physical ailments.

For too many years, I was stuck in a cycle: work out, get injured, do yoga, feel better, and then go back to not doing yoga. I eventually realized that if I felt better when I did yoga, why didn’t I just continue to do it? That was 8 years ago, and my practice has been consistent ever since.

Why did you decide to become a Registered Yoga Teacher? 

About six years ago, I started teaching a yoga class at the gym I was working at. With my background in fitness, I knew the anatomy and physiology, but I didn’t know much about philosophy. I yearned to learn more.

I think I researched teacher training for about 3 years before I actually signed up. In hindsight, I can see that I was avoiding it because I knew I’d have to confront some things about myself. Holding that mirror up to yourself can be scary. But I am so thankful I did the Yoga Nook teacher training. It taught me so much about Yoga, and yet so much more about myself.

What inspires your teaching? 

I’m constantly inspired by the human body — not only how the human body moves, but also how it moves differently for each of us. My yoga pose is not your yoga pose. We are all different.

How would you describe your teaching style? What makes your classes unique? 

When I first started teaching yoga, I was more focused on the workout; now I also try to make it a work-in. It’s more focused on noticing how and why your body moves in a particular way, and being in the pose and not just in your own head.

Having a background in personal training and group fitness gives me the ability to adapt easily, offer multi-level options of each pose, and to think outside the box. I also like to add some humor into my classes. Yoga can be fun too!

What is your favorite pose, and why? 

Not a particular pose, but a type: twists. They have so many benefits, but being an anatomy nerd, I love that they give us a real opportunity to compare our bodies from one side to the other. How is the right side different to the left? Noticing these differences in my own body is a big part of my own practice, and I incorporate this into all my classes too. The human body is amazing!

If you could choose one quote that best encompasses your approach, what would it be? 

“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.” –Rumi


Teacher Profile: Hannah Grasso

It’s that time again! We’re featuring a new Yoga Nook teacher for the month of October: Hannah Grasso. Hannah teaches Sun Salutations at Yoga Nook @ Fifth, Mondays 5:45-7:00 p.m. Her class will be a $10 community class throughout October, so bring a friend and check it out!

Hannah also recently completed doula training, and will be offering a prenatal/postnatal class series in the near future. Be sure to like Yoga Nook on Facebook, where we’ll keep you posted on further details and dates.

How has your yoga practice changed over time? 

My practice has transformed so many times and in so many ways in the 10 years since I walked into my first yoga class. That first day I walked in as a self-conscious little girl, completely consumed by how others perceived me. I had no idea just how deeply this practice would bring me into my own being.

Yoga is still a very physical practice for me, but it is no longer just a means to be thin and flexible. I see the asana as a portal to explore the depths of my soul and identify how I choose to walk in this world.

Are there any particularly memorable or transformative moments in your practice that you would like to share? 

My very first Savasana, which was led by Jeni Winterburn, was so powerful. I had spent the entire class looking in the mirror to see how thin or how good I looked in each pose — never satisfied with what I saw, of course.

When we laid down on the floor to rest, Jeni spoke to the room but I felt like she spoke directly to me. She told me my body was my temple, a sacred place, and that I should treat it as such. I had never laid down just to rest this way, and I certainly had never viewed my body as a sacred temple. Before then it was an empty vessel in which I was unwillingly trapped, and I did everything I could to change it.

I laid there listening to her sweet accent, and I cried. All my self-hate and misunderstanding of what I was left me through those tears. I felt lighter, softer, brighter than I had ever even known I was capable of feeling. And then I drifted off into that sweet sleep-like state of a deep Savasana, where you are simply with your Self, not judging or trying to change anything, just simply being.

Why did you decide to become a doula? 

When I was little, I dreamed of being an OBGYN and literally bringing new life into the world with my own two hands. It wasn’t until I became pregnant with my son that I realized just how beautiful and magnificent it is to bring life into the world with your own body!

I became a doula to help women feel empowered in their birth experience. I want birth to be an exciting and enjoyable moment in their lives instead of one surrounded by fear and the inability to trust their bodies and themselves.

What do you enjoy about working with prenatal/postnatal students? 

I truly believe that the baby’s physical and psychological well-being is enhanced when the mom does yoga during her pregnancy. It helps women become familiar and comfortable with their changing bodies, to grow into the mother they want to be, to prepare their bodies for labor, and to connect with their baby.

When the baby has arrived, there is no better way to stay grounded and connect with the little one than to share that time on the mat together. We lead by example, and over time those babies and children watching Mom do yoga will move and breathe with her, and learn how to control their thoughts and emotions just like she does.

What advice would you share with a student looking to deepen his or her practice? 

Don’t overthink it. Just move from intuition and know when it is appropriate to push harder, draw back or take pause. The more connected you become to your breath, the more connected you will be to your practice and to the experience you are having. Breathe more, think less.

If you could choose one quote that best encompasses your approach, what would it be? 

“In the hopes of reaching the moon, men fail to see the flowers that blossom at their feet.” –Albert Schweitzer


Yoga Source Presenter QA: Elise & Thomas McMasters

There are just a couple days left until our 3-day Yoga Source conference kicks off, and we couldn’t be more excited! If you haven’t already, take a look at the schedule, pick out your workshops and register online to get a head start.

You can also register at Yoga Nook @ Fifth on Friday, March 11 from 4:30-7 p.m. Then, join us for the Welcome Address from 7-8:30 p.m., where you can mingle with the presenters and enjoy music, wine tasting, singing and chanting in a relaxed atmosphere. (First-come basis, free to all attending the conference.)

Our final presenter Q&A is with Elise and Thomas McMasters, Certified Hanna Somatic Educators who not only work with people, but also horses and dogs. They will be presenting a fun workshop on how to help heal and communicate better with our pets:

Healing Touch for Animals 
Saturday, March 12 | 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Yoga Nook on Cochran
(Dogs will be present for this workshop.)
Only a few spots left! Sign up today.

Tell us a little bit more about your background and why you became interested in somatics. 

Our background began in human massage therapies and branched out to include equine and canine massage and bodywork, small and large animal acupuncture, as well as Hanna Somatic Education (HSE) for equine, canine and humans.

Hanna Somatic Education bridges the gap between working on clients and working with clients. The goal of HSE is to teach our clients the exercises necessary to continue their practice at home and in other areas of their lives. HSE continually renews our ability to access and release our muscle potential, allowing us to re-create more efficient and comfortable movement.

Why did you decide to present a workshop on Healing Touch for Animals? What are you looking to offer attendees? 

We are offering a window into the possibilities that Hanna Somatic work brings to our animals, specifically dogs and horses. Somatic Education, massage therapy and acupressure for horse and rider fill a need not addressed by any other type of therapy.

Simple guided release movements allow a horse and rider to experience the renewed ability to access muscle potential, creating a synergy of strength and balance. This results in the possibility of smooth, powerful movement with less effort.

Hanna Somatic work for canines, both athletic (such as agility or working dogs) as well as our at-home companions, offers simple movements that may increase a dog’s well-being, comfort and athletic career.

Working with dogs or horses aids in injury recovery and rehabilitation. Most of all, it is a fabulous preventative therapy for injury, the effects of aging, arthritis or any other conditions that affect or pertain to the muscles and soft tissues.

How have you applied somatics in your line of work? 

Somatic work has given us a greater understanding of how our minds work with our bodies. It is through a willing participation in this mind/body collaboration that we are able to refocus our mind to reach and recover muscle potential that otherwise may be unavailable. We can offer our clients simple, effective techniques to help recover from and prevent injury, achieving results that can be astounding.

If there is one thing you would like attendees to take away from your workshop, what would it be? 

Awareness that there is a simple and phenomenally effective way to help preserve not only our health, well-being, physical/athletic abilities, but also that of our animal companions. Having the ability to maintain health and wellness on a daily basis in a way that is pain-free and easily applied in the privacy and ease of your own home is unprecedented, but thoroughly possible and available.

Image credit: Taro the Shiba Inu via Flickr (CC)


Yoga Source Presenter QA: Jo Schillinger & Annika Ihnat

We’re a little more than a week away from our first-ever Yoga Source conference in Simi Valley! If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the full line-up of workshops and register online today.

This week, we’re bringing you a new Q&A with Jo Schillinger and Annika Ihnat, who will be presenting a workshop on Sacred Dance to awaken your inner dancer:

Sacred Dance
Saturday, March 12 | 2-3:30 p.m.
Yoga Nook on Cochran

Tell us a little bit more about your background and why you became interested in somatics. 

Jo: I taught modern, ballet and jazz dance for LAUSD for 25 years. After retiring, I began taking AIM classes and was amazed by the transformation even a single class could achieve. I’ve also found it to be effective for healing. I wish I knew 25 years ago what I know now.

Annika: I trained in jazz, ballet, hip hop and lyrical dance growing up, and danced professionally in film and television for 10 years. Although I enjoyed my time as a professional dancer, I ultimately found myself wanting something more. That’s when I fell in love with yoga and later, AIM somatic education. I am fascinated by how these practices empower us to heal ourselves.

Why did you decide to present a workshop on Sacred Dance? What are you looking to offer attendees? 

Jo: I find there is a strong link between dance and yoga. Early yogis used asanas to prepare for meditation. Early man/woman used dance to transcend and celebrate life. Today we often think of dance as something to watch. If we participate, we must look like someone or something. We have lost the connection to the primal and the sacred.

Annika: Although I’ve been a dancer my whole life, it was only when I began practicing yoga that I gained the self-awareness to move intuitively and express myself freely while dancing. To me, this is what both yoga and sacred dance are about — getting in touch with our bodies and our selves, and moving from that place of awareness. I hope to offer attendees a fun and liberating experience in a safe, open environment.

How have you applied somatics in your line of work? 

Jo: There is an organic way of moving for every body. I think it’s important to make individual accommodations to find safe and expressive methods of movement. I’ve also learned the value of gentle movement and moving efficiently through daily activity.

Annika: I incorporate AIM in every yoga class I teach to help students tune into their internal experience and build a stronger mind-body connection. I think somatic education is useful for anyone who dances, not only to heal injuries and move in more functional ways, but also to get in touch with the deepest parts of ourselves, where authentic self-expression originates.

If there is one thing you would like attendees to take away from your workshop, what would it be? 

Jo: There is a dancer within all of us. What you did when you were four years old is an offering to the Source.

Annika: There is no right or wrong way to dance. There is only your unique expression of your truth in the moment.


Yoga Source Presenter QA: Caroline Wright

In last week’s Q&A, we met Rick Olderman, the Denver-based physical therapist who will present workshops on Headaches, Neck & Shoulder Pain and Running Better, Healing Faster at the Yoga Source conference.

This week we’re turning our attention to Caroline Wright, an aerialist and Certified Hanna Somatic Educator. Caroline became an approved artist for Cirque du Soleil in 2008 and currently teaches circus arts in San Francisco. She is offering a fun workshop at Yoga Source to help you get in touch with the child within:

Mindful Circus Crafts
Saturday, March 12 | 2-4 p.m.
Yoga Nook @ Fifth

See the full conference schedule and register online today!

Tell us a little bit more about your background and why you became interested in somatics. 

I have been performing as an aerialist and teaching throughout North America for nearly a decade. In 2010, injuries threatened to end my career. I found a unique form of neuromuscular re-training called Hanna Somatic Education. I used it to make a full recovery, and still use it daily to enhance my performance. Now, as a Certified Hanna Somatic Educator, I am committed to sharing these life-changing techniques with others.

Why did you decide to present a workshop on Mindful Circus Crafts? What are you looking to offer attendees? 

I decided to offer this workshop because the body awareness gained through somatics is a wonderful preparation for exploring movement within the context of circus arts.

The workshop will consist of a centering somatic warm-up, followed by some basic postures with a focus on sensing optimal alignment. This will progress into basic static partner acrobatics, learning how to support the weight of another person in a healthy way, and how to climb, lean or balance on someone else safely.

How have you applied somatics in your line of work? 

I use somatics with clients and circus students to help them unwind contraction patterns that are causing pain and dysfunction, and teach them how to move with more efficiency and ease. Overcoming plateaus of any kind is a mind-body experience that is accelerated with somatic education.

If there is one thing you would like attendees to take away from your workshop, what would it be? 

I’d love for participants to leave with a heightened body awareness and improved culture of movement. By the end of the workshop, I would like them to be able to apply the knowledge to both support weight and be supported by others in a stable, healthy manner, inside and outside of a circus arts context.

Next week we’ll feature yet another Yoga Source presenter — be sure to subscribe below to get updates in your inbox.


Yoga Source Presenter QA: Rick Olderman, MSPT, CPT

Our 3-day Yoga Source conference is less than a month away! To give you a sneak peek into all the great workshops and experiences we have in store for you, we’ll be posting a new Q&A with one of our fantastic presenters each week leading up to the conference.

This week we’re featuring Rick Olderman, MSPT, CPT and author of the Fixing You book series, who will be traveling from Denver, Colorado to present TWO engaging and informative workshops:

Headaches, Neck & Shoulder Pain
Saturday, March 12 | 10-11 a.m.
Yoga Nook @ Fifth

Running Better, Healing Faster
Sunday, March 13 | 8:30-10 a.m.
Yoga Nook on Cochran

See the full conference schedule and register online today!

Tell us a little bit more about your background and why you became interested in somatics. 

As a physical therapist, I’m fascinated by chronic pain and nagging injuries. Our bodies are designed to heal — then why don’t they? Although this seems obvious, I’ve always believed chronic pain must happen from how we are using our bodies (and brains).

But if you look at most treatment systems out there, they are not based on principles of movement. Somatics is, however, and has been an enormous tool for me in understanding how the interplay between body and brain create pain, and fix it.

My therapists and I apply somatics to biomechanics and behavioral corrections, which completely elevates our outcomes with patients. Somatics has helped me see my patients more wholly, and has widened my realm of perceptions of possible problems. It truly has made me a better physical therapist.

Why did you decide to present workshops on Headaches, Neck & Shoulder Pain and Running Better, Healing Faster? What are you looking to offer attendees? 

In my practice, I see a lot of upper extremity and neck pain, as well as headaches, in yoga and Pilates practitioners. In general, we’re very successful in fixing these issues. It typically comes down to having a deeper understanding of how the upper extremity system works. This hinges, literally, on scapula function.

Yoga instructors already have such a great degree of body awareness and education that they grasp these concepts rapidly and are then able to help their own clients.

My intention for the Headaches, Neck & Shoulder Pain workshop is that attendees leave with a greater understanding of how the shoulder girdle creates neck pain, headaches and even other problems like thoracic outlet syndrome or common shoulder or elbow pain. This understanding will use somatic elements where possible.

I love to offer clinics about lower extremity injuries and running because running is popular everywhere, and running injuries are common. The leg and pelvic system is fascinating, and is the foundation of our movement paradigms. So having a more complete understanding of how we move and how that relates to pain carries over into understanding back and even neck pain. Often solutions are very simple.

Runners are a very educated population too, and are eager to learn more to become the best they can be. Their enthusiasm for the information I present is very satisfying to me.

My intention for the Running Better, Healing Faster workshop is for attendees to leave with a clear understanding of key concepts involved with most running injuries I see. These will include understanding how femoral retroversion or anteversion influences the hips, knees and feet, and how the feet influence issues up the chain too. I’ll also present a novel fix for posterior chain tightness.

How have you applied somatics in your line of work? 

I apply somatic thinking and interventions to every patient I see in my clinic. One of the things I love about somatics is that it can be applied to so many ideas. The spectrum of issues that I deal with in my clinic can fall between purely physical at one end and purely psychological at the other. Somatics allows me to work at both ends and everywhere in between.

If there is one thing you would like attendees to take away from your workshops, what would it be? 

My goal for both of my workshops is that attendees leave with a deeper, practical understanding of how movement systems in our bodies work together to unlock pain. I use hands-on learning techniques to drive these points home because I want everyone to be able to use them immediately with their own clients.

Check back next week for a new Q&A with another Yoga Source presenter — or subscribe below to get updates in your inbox.


Teacher Profile: Sarah Brandle

Summer is in full swing, and we’re featuring a new Yoga Nook teacher for the month of July: Sarah Brandle. Read our interview with Sarah below, and come by the Nook on Sundays from 4-5 p.m. Sarah’s Core & Stretch class will be a $10 community class for the whole month of July, so bring a friend!

What originally drew you to the practice of Yoga? How has your practice changed over time?

In 2010, I sustained an injury that was both physically traumatic and emotionally damaging. I saw a Yoga Nook ad in a local paper. I thought Yoga might help me get back on track physically since I wasn’t able to do my usual strenuous workouts. From the minute I walked in the door, I felt like I had come home—home to the space and home to myself.

Why did you decide to become a Registered Yoga Teacher? What inspires your teaching today? 

After practicing for only a few months, I craved more. Jeni mentioned the teacher training at the Nook. It sparked an idea. I had already gained so much from what I learned. If I could learn more and share this amazing feeling with others, then maybe they could heal too. I just had to share once I started learning. It was bubbling out of me.

This still inspires my teaching. I see people feel relief after class. When you see a student’s peaceful face after Savasana, it warms your heart. You know it is important work, and that’s motivation to teach.

How would you describe your teaching style? What makes your classes unique? 

I would say my teaching style is simple. Yoga doesn’t have to be complicated to feel good. I like to offer a refuge in my class. We often push so hard in life; I offer breaks. Not just in Savasana but throughout class, take a break if you need it. Although, I think all Yoga Nook teachers do this!

Are there any particularly memorable or transformative moments from your practice or teaching that you would like to share? 

During teacher training, Jeni said something like, “Remember, it isn’t about you. It is about your students. It’s about the Yoga.”

As someone with a pretty big ego, this was a turning point for me. I think about this when I teach and in my daily life. Often I get caught up in my own mind. This is my reminder to step out of my own thoughts and instead see others, listen to them and help as I can.

What is your favorite pose, and why? 

Parivrtta Anjaneyasana, twisted lunge with the hand on the ground. I love the way I feel strong and open at the same time. It stretches us and yet feels so sturdy. Plus, you can move into so many other poses from here as a transition. It is simple and beautiful.

What advice would you share with a student looking to deepen his or her practice? 

Keep learning. Practice, practice, practice. Do poses in the studio and at home. Do breathwork, meditate.

Take Yoga with you everywhere. Let it permeate your heart and body. Then let it seep out of you for others to see and feel the goodness of it.

If you could choose one quote that best encompasses your approach, what would it be? 

“Be silly, be honest, be kind.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

Check out past teacher profiles: 
Jess Nilson
Yasa Rasakhoo


Teacher Profile: Jessica Nilson

Every month, we’re featuring a different teacher on the Yoga Nook blog. We highlighted Yasa Rasakhoo for the month of April, and now we’re turning our attention to Jessica Nilson. Read on to learn more about Jess’ unique style, then come on in to Yoga Nook — all of her scheduled classes will be $10 community classes throughout the month of May!

Tuesday 8:30-9:45 a.m. — Classic Yoga 1 & 2
Tuesday 4:30-5:30 p.m. — Yoga in Mind
Friday 9-10:15 a.m. — Classic Yoga 1
3rd Friday of the month, 7-8:15 p.m. — Yin Stretch

What originally drew you to the practice of Yoga? How has your practice changed over time?

What drew me to Yoga was an opportunity to teach it in a gym setting. I was already a personal trainer and had taught group classes for years. I had a short training to get started, and I quickly realized that I needed more — more practice and more education.

I continued my education with Jeni Winterburn. I had been practicing with her for awhile and started taking workshops with her. This led to the first change in my practice: realizing that Yoga was so much more than the asana. Over the years, it has continued to evolve into a love of the movement, as well as the inward journey the practice continues to take me on. It is constantly changing me and giving me opportunities to grow, love and inspire … to be open and compassionate, and I am so grateful for that.

Why did you decide to become a Registered Yoga Teacher? What inspires your teaching today? 

I became a registered teacher because I knew this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life! Giving and receiving the energy of the students, guiding them through a practice that is positive and healing, energetic and peaceful. I feel in my heart it’s what I was meant to do. It feels right, feels real.

How would you describe your teaching style? What makes your classes unique? 

My style is a combination of inspiration, honesty, compassion and finding progress without pain. I’m all for challenging students as well, encouraging work. However, Yoga should be fun and positive, not rigid. I like to invoke lightheartedness and humor in my classes from time to time. Intense and focused, or slow and soft, I try to bring a balance to each class.

Are there any particularly memorable or transformative moments from your practice or teaching that you would like to share? 

I would say my teacher trainings. In both the RYT 200 and 500, there were so many “aha!” moments that I wouldn’t have enough words to describe them all. I experience transformation and memorable moments each time I teach or practice. Each time is an opportunity for something new to arise — just like each day is a brand new beginning for us all.

What is your favorite pose, and why? 

Oh boy, there are so many, but probably Ardha Chandrasana, Half Moon Pose. I love the strong stability built in this pose and the gentle grace of the balance. There is also a charming mythical story behind the pose: the Hindu god Ganesha puts a curse on the moon to shine but once a month, which explains why the moon cycle exists. This story is one of my all-time favorites.

What advice would you share with a student looking to deepen his or her practice? 

I was reading some literature on Yoga when I came across a quote from a teacher named Sharon Gannon: “You cannot DO Yoga. Yoga is your natural state. What you can do are yoga exercises, which may reveal to you where you are resisting your natural state.”

I wasn’t quite sure what it meant at first. I read more, practiced more asana and meditation, and attended more trainings and lectures — which got me closer, but I’m still getting there. So my advice would be to keep learning about the practice through asana, self-study, and education, including lectures and teacher trainings. Even if you don’t want to be a teacher, it will deepen your practice in so many ways.

If you could choose one quote that best encompasses your approach, what would it be? 

“Remember, it does not matter how deep into a posture you go — what does matter is who you are when you get there.” –Max Strom