I always loved being alone and when my Dad left Richard Hittleman’s 28 Day Yoga Plan under the Christmas tree I took off with it and began my yoga journey. I practiced alone with no outside distractions and nobody telling me how it should be done. What a gift to start this way. Self inquiry it was! I was 16 and my mind was open.
Soon after that I found a free yoga class at Davidson College taught by Herb Jackson an art professor there. This was my first experience with an instructor in a class setting. We did it on beach towels in jeans or sweat pants! It was a good experience. Not a lot of gimmicks…just yoga.
A few years later I got into dance and went to the North Carolina School of the Arts. I stayed there 4 years studying all forms of dance, anatomy, kinesiology and choreography. After graduating I got work with Footpath Dance Company in Cleveland and then moved on to Toronto Dance Theater in Ontario, eventually landing in NYC. In between dance classes I would run over to take Ravi Singh’s Kundalini class. He is an incredible teacher. It was my first powerful experience of the breath. We would be breathing like crazy about to pass out and he would say “keep up”. Soon after I found Sivinanda Yoga Center and studied there for a while. Then studied awhile with Dharma Mitra in his home studio. Also I did a wonderful intuition retreat with him. Lots of silent walking in the woods. We would walk and all of a sudden he would put his hand on a stump and go in an asymmetrical one armed handstand.
I was then working at The Athletic and Swim Club by Rockefeller Center teaching aerobics, calisthenics, water classes, and later on yoga. I also ran the class fitness department scheduling the classes and hiring the instructors. All the while my hip was not withstanding the wear and tear of all the dancing and teaching so I knew I needed to make a commitment to a more serious yoga practice.
Then I found Jivamukti. They were posted at a studio where I was dancing. It was small then, just a few teachers. I took class there constantly, often two classes in a row. I quit dancing and I was there so much they asked me to teach. Really, I never wanted to but Sharon Gannon pushed me. She saw in me what I couldn’t. She showed me unconditional love and I have such a special place in my heart for her. David Life also was a great influence in my life and in my heart. He taught me how to fly in my dreams…no kidding.
Eddie Stern also was teaching at Jivamukti then. This was I think the late eighties early nineties. He went to India and came back only to be completely devoted to the Ashtanga Practice . It soon too became my practice. The practice of breathing was and has been the most influencial and powerful experience of my life. It has taught me about how I think…how my mind works, how to watch, how to wait and it just keeps evolving! Eddie used to tell me to “shut up and breathe”! He taught me how to own my practice to own my life. “Yoga isn’t pretty” he would say. You have to be willing to take a good look….He used to say “stop fluffing around” when we would drop out of the breath to fix our hair or clothes….amazing teachings…. Eddie encouraged me to go to India to study with Pattabi Jois so that’s what we did. Six weeks in India was where we spent our honeymoon.
My Iyengar influence came from Kevin Gardener. We practiced with him in his little apartment. He is a very passionate teacher…he radiates it. I felt euphoric when I left his classes. I had to be careful crossing the streets in Manhattan after I took class! Other teachers that I have been lucky to study with are Leslie Kaminoff, Adrienne Jamiel, MD -Yoga for the Female Form, Michael Carroll, Doug Keller -therapeutics, Sarah Powers-yin, Joe Barnett-yin.
I feel so grateful to have a practice that has carried me through so many ups and downs of life. The simplicity to inhale and exhale and be present for all that is now and for all that is coming. Now more than ever with all sincerity I want to share what I’ve learned and what I am learning.