This is a chronology of how I came to yoga, where it led me, and what I learned along the way. It is a story my husband suggested I tell.
On the education side of things: I am currently an RYT-200, and I have studied and practiced yoga since 1998.
I started with Iyengar Yoga, a style that emphasizes alignment; my next transition was Vinyasa, a style with progressive sequences, that flow together like water over rocks. Vinyasa translates from Sanskrit like this: nyasa meaning “to place” and vi “in a special way.”
1998 was when my practice began. Since then, Iyengar and Vinyasa yoga combined to form a flowing but alignment-attentive style that I now teach — slow-flow yoga.
The continuous Yogacation path played out like this …
Ongoing: Private session yoga-study
I study and practice with my yoga teacher, as often as I can. She is a doctorate in archaeology and an Iyengar-trained instructor. She trained the Huskies, at one point, and still teaches to friends. One of her recent students could only do Restorative Yoga, due to the effects of cancer. Restorative Yoga is a floor-based, heavily propped, meditative style that puts the student in a pose and allows the muscles and tissues to “open” without effort.
She teaches only private sessions, and I was fortunate enough to be the receiver of that. We practice together and follow up with a chat, breaking down poses to the nth degree: because we are both total yoga-geeks, and she is a brilliant encyclopedia of yogic knowledge. And, I adore her.
My regard for yoga deepened, and my practice became something bigger, on her watch. She was instrumental to my choice to train as an instructor. When I have a yoga-emergency, she answers texts within minutes, before class (“What poses do I avoid in this class? One student is four months pregnant. … “One student has RA — what do I do there?” She is now one of my closest and dearest friends, but she hates public attention, so you do not get to know her name. She is Iyengar-focused and also heavily influenced by Steve Ross.
I have met some famous people in the yoga community, but she is the most famous, to me.
I took my first Yin class in 2007, and it was overwhelming. Four hours after my first Yin practice, I was sobbing. Yin is a deep-stretching, full-release practice that opens up energy-blocks in the body (per the Chinese medicine logic that anchors the Yin practice). It is described by one of my teachers as a way to clean out the “issues in your tissues.” I love the practice now — often, it makes me feel relaxed and light-hearted. I now practice Yin weekly, studying under my co-instructors at Movement Arts. I use YouTube videos by Travis Elliott and Bernie Clark, for my independent study of Yin. I certified to teach Yin in Carol Mason’s Yin Yoga Teacher Training, in May of 2017.
This is a class-style created by Kara Keating, the director at Movement Arts. I trained in the practice in October of 2016, because it’s fun. It’s sort of Zenned up dance-party yoga — mindful movement for every-kind-of-health, including the physical heart and the energetic one.
Skill In Vinyasa is a workshop-series, with Theresa Elliott. I studied weekly with her, from January to May, in 2016; and I attend that ongoing series whenever I can. If you attend my classes and hear me mention “my trainer,” I am referring to Theresa Elliott. If you are unaware of who she is: she is an anatomy and body-movement guru and the asana-model for many books by Judith Lasater.
Theory and Practice of Restorative Yoga:
On March 19, I flew to San Francisco for a one-day workshop on Restorative Yoga, taught by Judith Lasater. The 32-student event was held at Bija Yoga, in San Francisco. Yes, it was awesome to finally meet the writer, doctorate, and physical therapist who helped shape my practice and teaching protocols. If I ever put my hands on students (to the yoga newbies, some instructors will move your body for you) I tend to ask first. The “ask first, then touch” protocol is hers. When I say, “The full pose is not the best pose, the best pose is the best one for your body today” — that is a guideline I took from her books. I read her first book in 2000, and her writing has created brush-strokes for every element of my teaching.
Teacher training: 2011 to 2012
200-hour Yoga Teacher Training at Pacific Yoga, studying with Theresa Elliott and Kathryn Payne. Awesomely cathartic. I’ve taken many workshops from Theresa, since I started as a practitioner: I did not keep track of all of them, because I didn’t expect this to turn into a career. I think when I started doing yoga, it was more like gaining a new body part, or a new section to your mind. And Theresa is a brilliant encyclopedia of kinesiology. I am always on the edge of my seat when I train with her.
Interviewed Judith Lasater about the notion of licensing for yoga teachers, and the protocols for body-adjustments. I was a freelancer then, and the article is shelved — I pitched it to two magazines, and they passed. I know I could have put it up on my own, but I was burned out on my word-world (journalism professional, originally … freelancer for many years). It’s still kicking around her somewhere — maybe I’ll dust it off and post it.
Authored the Guide to Understanding Yoga and Breast Cancer. This project included interviews with healthcare professionals and women who had made it to the other side of cancer treatment, as well as some still in the thick of it. I interviewed author Mary Pullig Schatz, M.D., for that brochure.
Hmmm, my yoga library. It is big. I will add some details later — off the top of my head, all Judith Lasater books, some of them in two forms (hardcopy and Kindle). Other much-loved authors in my yoga-library are Mary Pullig Schatz, M.D., Ray Long, M.D., Bernie Clark, and Sarah Powers. Bernard Bouanchaud is a heavily post-it-marked favorite that goes with me to nearly every studio-class I teach. I find myself re-reading pose-information from Drs. Lasater and Long, just to cement what I’ve learned through teaching and practice. I rarely go more than a few days without studying something yoga-related: poses, body movement, Patanjali, pranayama.
Studied anatomy in a classroom setting, in 2014. Study independently, and often.
Took a sequencing workshop from Theresa Elliott. This is when I first started pondering a teacher-training, and was using the event to scout her studio.
Interviewed Seane Corn, instructor and co-founder of Off the Mat, Into the World. I sat in on two days of her yoga teacher-training, as part of the interview. She invited me to take part, during the “get up and teach” section of the class. So, my very first experience as a yoga instructor was in front of Seane Corn. Wow. It was kind of thrilling.
Interviewed Krishna Das, over the phone, for New Age Retailer magazine, in Bellingham. It was a lovely interview. He’s just as joyful as you think he is.
1998 to Now
I have taken countless classes, all over the West Coast — Vinyasa, Iyengar, Restorative, Yin. In gyms, in studios, living rooms, and one barn. I miss the barn. I have practiced at bus stops, in cubicles, meeting rooms, hotel rooms, a breakroom at a daily newspaper, and on my front porch.
Took my first-ever Yoga class at Yoga Northwest in Bellingham. It was a “baby, where have you been all my life” experience. The rest is history.
At age 5 or 6
My Grandma Corva, on my Mom’s side, was my first yoga-influence. I also recall yoga-talk from my Great Aunt Ruth. Grandma was a devout Catholic. Both were from a generation when yoga was considered odd and spiritually dangerous, in mainstream circles. Both practiced anyway. I remember watching Grandma Corva move slowly through Sun Salutations in the living room. I have her Hittleman book.