How do yoga and physical therapy work in synergy to inform your approach?
Most of the time it feels like a symbiotic relationship in that the two really inform each other. My education in anatomy and body mechanics absolutely informs the ways in which I move and engage my body, as well as the ways I cue others to align and engage. What I did not initially expect was that yoga would teach me so much about how to help my physical therapy clients to take care of themselves. It has shown me that I need to teach changes in physical patterns, but also the skills to slow down, for clients to be able to pause and recognize the patterns, to feel why and how the problem is occurring, and to recognize how much stress responses can govern our physical body. When clients start to feel these things, physical patterns change at a far more rapid rate and last far longer than me simply telling people what to do.
As a PT, how do you create a safe space for your students while leaving room for growth?
It is a constant interplay between communicating specific cues and encouraging specific alignment, explaining the mechanics clearly so that students may have a kinesthetic experience of the principles, but also allowing students to have their own individual experience at their own pace. For me the key to not getting too caught up in my own agenda is regularly cueing students to feel. When they connect with what they actually feel physically and energetically in a given moment, rather than subscribing to what they think they’re “supposed” to feel, it empowers students to develop a much deeper awareness and greater connection with their wiser Self. My hope is to foster autonomy rather than a greater dependence on the teacher.
What are your guiding principles as a yoga teacher?
My background makes it such that I can’t help myself with specificity and safety. And studentship, first and always studentship. But beyond that, it is of the utmost importance to me that teaching always be a humble offering, and to express gratitude to students for their engagement in the process, not the outcome.
Where do you feel most inspired?
For me it’s not only a question of where (breathing deeply in nature, like so many of us here in Colorado), but also when. When I am taking good care of myself, getting sufficient sleep, eating consciously, and practicing regularly, I feel most connected and most inspired. That of course means doing my physical asana practice, pranayama and consistent meditation, but also noticing how I treat myself internally. I need to actively cultivate kindness towards myself to be able to act and offer from my wiser Self.
Name three people who have deeply influenced your life?
My first teacher Charry Morris who always leads with the kindest of hearts, offers her teaching without attachment to the results, and truly lives the practice of yoga. Amy Baker, my dear friend, who is always my mirror. She holds me accountable, lights my fire for growth, and is a tender guardian of my heart.
And myself. For all the mistakes I have made and will make, and for all of the work I have done and will continue to do (sometimes with greater dedication than others), I have learned to trust myself more and finally feel like I have something of value to say, thanks to the practice and teachings of yoga.
Photos courtesy of Corinna Lander and Jordan Quinn.
Originally published in the Summer + Fall 2018 issue.