This is a picture of me with Casey, one of the amazing people I get to work with every week. He is a retired marine and when I first met him I had no idea the amount of pain he was living with. Countless combat injuries, multiple surgeries.
He came to yoga (with his service dog Lily) to relieve tension and manage his pain. Within weeks he saw significant increases in flexibility and reduction in pain and has been one of the most generous and compassionate people I've met. Casey is a humbling reminder of why I teach.
If I hadn't overcome my own fears, insecurities and doubts I would never have been able to meet and serve amazing people like Casey. I had no idea where my path was leading, but I am honored that I get to serve people like Casey every day in my teaching now.
I always felt I had something significant to give to the world but struggled to figure out what it was.
Overwhelmed, doubting myself, I was trying to find my way after a tumultuous childhood where I never met my father and moved countless times.
In my angsty early 20s I tried a lot of things - here is a pic from one of my bands at the time, Lifeless Satellites, an emotional outlet, yet the bar scene of drugs, late nights and parties felt very out of alignment for me. So did the corporate world of working 9 to 5. I had to find something different. Something way out side of what I grew up around.
Eventually I met a teacher I resonated with - a leader of a non profit bringing together refugee youth from around the world. I asked her for guidance and she shared her impression of me: withdrawn, held back, she said "It's like you're walking around unexpressed."
It hit me in the gut as true, but I had no idea what to do about it. I always felt like if someone would just point me in the right direction and guide me I could do anything. This teacher helped me realize that she wasn't that someone - I was! - the place I needed to look was internally. She could help me to a point, but I had to do the work.
It wasn't until I tried meditation that something clicked. First at a class in Minneapolis, then weekly classes.
This lead to me hearing about yoga and, eventually, I reluctantly stepped foot into a yoga class... When the room was empty of course. But a few weeks later I went to an actual class. I felt relieved. I felt like I was getting out of my head and back into my body. I knew I wanted to do this more.
My patterns changed. The depressed thoughts that creeped into my life over the past few years now had alternatives. I noticed what was going well in my life and what I could do to continue to improve. Within a year I was a completely different person. Happy, creative, expressive, playful.
I was becoming noticeably stronger, more flexible and could balance - not just physically, but mentally and emotionally too. I realized the body and mind are deeply linked and releasing my physical tension was equally releasing my emotional tension.
As I gave more of myself to this practice, I got more back from it. I was feeling more expressed. More calm. More focused on what matters to me. More intentional with everything I did. More myself, and inspired to share this with others.
I realized that there is a side-effect of doing countless hours of meditation, yoga and deep introspective journaling and therapeutic work: the desire to serve others. I learned that this is a path of Yoga called Seva or "Selfless Service" and this was the foundation of me becoming a teacher.
I got involved with non profits, raised money for charities, worked with at-risk youth, taught yoga and meditation in underserved schools, I got to volunteer at a school in India and I helped launch the first non-profit yoga studio in Austin, TX.
Amazingly, the more I gave, the more I felt I had to give. Focused on how I could help the person in front of me, I had forgotten about my insecurities and doubts. When they would rise back up, I had perspective. I had tools to work with them. I had good teachers and mentors so I knew those negative feelings are part of life and never really change, but my perspective does change, and it had changed significantly. I saw how much I could be of service to others when I got out of my head and embodied the strength, flexibility and balance I had cultivated in my practices.
I had very little money in my early 20s but I spent nearly all of it on trainings, service trips, certifications, retreats, intensives, classes and workshops. I learned everything I could about meditation, yoga, ayurveda, vedic astrology, psychology, spirituality and the human condition from a wide variety of teachers and modalities.
I practiced yoga and meditation nearly every day, often for entire days at teacher trainings, intensives and meditation retreats. I learned everything I could from the teachers I admired. I tested their techniques, applied their teachings to my life, kept what worked, and experimented to see if what I could add or take away from it.
This is the foundation of what I teach and live now and I am happy to save I am physically, mentally, emotionally, relationally and financially the best I have ever been, and it just keeps getting better. Again, the natural side effect of this is I feel compelled to share what I have learned with as many people as possible.
(This picture is from the Global Youth Peace Summit during a group meditation. I was fortunate to get to be a volunteer counselor for 3 years in a row to a diverse group of boys from around the world.)
In 2011 I started teaching yoga and meditation, coaching and counseling anywhere I could - for free. Any time from 4am to 10pm. Anyone from at-risk youth to disabled veterans. I was honored to get to teach and share these amazing resources.
I found myself meeting people facing similar challenges I had faced before. Boys without fathers. People with depression, insomnia, major digestive distress, anxiety, overwhelm, feeling lost and unexpressed, tight hamstrings, back pain, shoulder pain; All things I knew very well.
Those struggles are no longer something I feel ashamed about, but a reminder of my resilience when new challenges arise, and a source of empathy and understanding when I have the opportunity to help others.
I have since taught 4,000+ classes and events and get to work with amazing people and share this thing I love every day. I feel fully expressed. I feel in alignment with my purpose. I feel endlessly grateful every day and none of it would have happened without my teachers.
It's in that spirit that I'm here to be of service to you. To help you avoid the mistakes I made in my practices. To help you have a regular practice. To help you be of service to others. To guide you towards finding your own expression, because I am so grateful that my teachers helped me find mine.
Every week I share what I have found most effective to increase flexibility, strength and balance. How to work with depression, anxiety and digestive distress. I offer ways for you to practice and teach Yoga, Meditation, Ayurveda and Vedic Astrology. Sign up for updates and exclusive offers.