Describe your love story with yoga?
When I was 15, my English Teacher from India was a devotee of Sai Baba. I came from a broken family and the pain was evident in my expressions be it writing or poetry. I believe I had a very deep Karmic connection with my English teacher. He taught me about Mantras and directed me to healing through Sound and Vibration. This is when the Yoga Seeds were planted. He emulated a deep sense of wisdom, peace and influenced me to write, to chant, and to explore Vedic passages. I began to explore the concepts of Non-Duality, Liberation, and Yoga. I wandered into my first Asana class when I was 19, and everything began to open and shift. Closing my eyes and being one with every breath, moving through asana, and pranayama, it all felt familiar and deep. It became my sacred place to connect and build a deep intimacy with my soul for many years before visiting India.
Yoga has taught me how to be free and how to live in the moment. It brought me closer to becoming more playful, more creative, and has allowed me to connect to my heart. It has given me the permission to feel, and to have compassion for both myself and others which is essential in life. It has taught me to let go of fixed and rigid ideas, and helps me to get out of my own way when I have to. Yoga has merged me with the idea of unity and oneness with nature, animals, energy, spirit, and people without borders or separation. This concept Yoga, to Yoke, to Unite has changed my life. It feeds my dreams, and pushes me to be fearless and to follow my path truthfully. It has connected me to free-thinkers, rebels, anarchists, poets, gypsies, sadhus, and some of the most inspirational people who have brought joy and spirit into my life. The Globe is my home, because of Yoga. I am a seeker by nature, and it has brought me closer to my soul.
What does yoga represent to you?
Suffering was a pathway to my Yoga Practice initially, and it showed me that we are love and nothing more. Reading passages from the Vedas and Buddhism all address the principles of suffering, and I found many answers there. It softened my heart and allowed my spirit to be free and accepting of the things I cannot control. I am so sensitive to subtle things like energy, intuition, compassion, empathy, sentiment. Yoga embodies these many layers and keeps them in balance and healthy. It has taught me to align myself with divine energy, and to give energy to the things I want to manifest in my life. It represents the balance between both dark and light and doesn't deny that everything is part of the whole. Our suffering is our greatest gift actually. When you know this, everything just begins to flow around us without clinging or aversion. It's a balancing act, and it can be very creative and playful once you get a grip on it, and you learn to let go at the same time.
What style of yoga do you teach?
I teach Free Style variations of Vinyasa , Hatha, Power, Yin and Yang, and Upside-Down Yoga which is a class I am passionate about and love. I have studied with many different lineages and spent years in India and Asia exploring ways to heal, and use yoga for transformation. I honor the originals, and try to stay true to the lineages and masters that came before us. I see Yoga as a constant evolution, so I am always changing, shifting, adapting, growing, re-learning, and un-learning. All Yoga is Hatha Yoga really, the balancing of the Sun and Moons energies.
Tell us about your teaching style?
My teaching style is all about empowering the students to find their own way. I just want people to fall in love with life and to embrace every part of themselves without denial and regret. We have the power to be and do whatever we want, even if we have been given circumstances that seem challenging. That is the message I want to send to everyone. If our body is an instrument, the mind is simply the music it makes. We learn to live happily in the body, so that our minds can become clear, and our hearts can stay open. The whole world would find harmony if we came from this place of balance and abundance. We have to be activists, warriors, and anarchists in this life, and I encourage everyone to find meaning in this crazy world.
Who are your (favorite) teachers?
Danny Paradise (Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Shaman), David Life and Sharon Gannon (Jivamukti, Animal Rights Activists and Rebels) Michael Stone (Psychotherapist, Author, Buddhist, and Yoga Teacher), Rudra Gowda (Senior Iyengar Teacher and Sivananda Swami) Ram Das, Allan Watts, Ken Wilber"¦..how much time do we have?
How does your personal yoga practice look like (on and off the mat)?
I am constantly in the Flow with everything I do in my life. I try not to plan, or resist things too much. I am open to new things, to step out of my comfort zone, to live in new countries, to make new friends, to spend time in solitude. I was once told I live my life like an Alchemist, and I liked that description very much. It's a balance of Meditation, Self-Study, Action and Asana. Some days I have a gentle practice, other days I am upside down! I try to make sure I always balance out the yin and yang aspects of practice in life and this can be very grounding. I love Meditation and Chanting, spending time in Temples, Monasteries, Seaside's, Mountain Tops, Flea Markets and Coffee Shops. I have a strong Bhakti and Jnana practice which is what brought me to Asana to begin with.
Which asanas would you recommend to invigorate someone's day and make them want to come back for more?
Upside Down Yoga! I am a big advocate of all Inversions. I find them to be so empowering, and inspiring. After an inversion I feel like I can do anything! Spend more time Upside Down and see how your views of who you are and the world change. Upside Down Yoga- Change your perspective. Being Upside down is Medicine for the body and the mind.
What tips would you give to a new yogi?
Do all things with love. Be fearless. Step out of your comfort zone. Find teachers who are free-spirits, rebels, anarchists. Live the life you have always dreamed of having. Believe in yourself. Make new friends, dance and live in your heart. Be involved in social change. Fight for those who don't have a voice. Start one breath at a time.
Please share your favourites with us - books, sites, anything that tickles your yogic fancy!
The Hero With a Thousand Faces-Joseph Cambell Ram Das -Be Here Now. Radha: Diary of a Woman's Search-Radha Swami, Yoga for a World Out of Balance- Michael Stone..
Whats your secret to happiness?
To learn to let go of the things that hold me back from becoming who I am meant to be. To be kind, to be loving, to forgive, to be true to myself and congruent with my beliefs. To let go of the things that don't serve me, and to dedicate my life to serving others.
What are you grateful for today?
I am thankful for my Dharma and being able to share what I love with the world. I am thankful for all of my hardships and heartbreaks. For the enigmatic strangers I have met in my life that gave me wisdom, just by having a conversation on a hilltop in the Himalayas, or a coffee shop in a crowded city. I am thankful for my Karma and my family. I am thankful for dance floors, music, art, healing and everything that connects us to spirit.
How do you live a wholehearted life?
By being Transparent, and allowing myself to make mistakes. For doing things that terrify me, without having regrets because the unknown is where magic seems the happen. By missing Flights home as often as I possibly can and being open to changing plans. By getting out of my own way, and letting the Universe guide me. She knows what I need more than I do, and I am happiest when she is my spirit guide.
You love to travel, how does your passion for travel connect with your passion for yoga?
It has forced me to step outside of my conditioning, and has re-created who I am by living in different countries and cultures. When you travel, you meet new parts of yourself, as well as new outlooks and perspectives. Traveling is my Yoga Teacher. The world is much too big to stay in one place. I think my Soul was born is India in many past lives before this one. Another part maybe Brazilian, so I must travel there soon! Traveling and Yoga has brought the Unity of Yoga into Practice, it becomes more experiential and integrated. I Thank God every day for my Passport, Visas and for the fact I can live from what I love to do. I don't own anything, and I prefer it that way. It keeps me free to just be in the flow of life, and open to move anywhere I want to go.
How do you balance travel and teaching and learning?
I make sure I have a ticket to India once a year, and that usually means I allow myself to get lost in Asia with teachers, and my practice becomes a part of everything I do. Every time I board an airplane I feel like I just signed up for a Yoga Teacher's Training. I put myself into places that are not mainstream, and that is generally when my practice begins.
Which cause (s) do you support? What concerns you the most?
I support animal right groups and I pray that one day Vegetarianism becomes a part of everyone's life.
What is your top travel tip?
Miss your flight home as much as possible! Travel lightly, and embrace the unknown.
Your favorite destination and why?
India, because its where I found my heart.