1- In less than a minute, tell us who you are and why we keep hearing good things about you.
I started doing yoga in the 1970's, when I was a competitive athlete. At first I was in it for just the stretching (I'd arrive late and leave before Savasana because I thought centering and relaxation were a colossal waste of time!). But soon I was hooked. Over the years, as life, accidents, and surgeries happened, I moved from power flow yoga to an ever-more-adaptive yoga practice that wouldn't get me hurt, and that could help my aching, aging body-mind. I found Vipassana meditation. As my therapeutic approach to my own yoga practice developed, I found that there was a world of hurt out there, and I discovered my dharma: I wanted to make yoga accessible for everyone, of any age and condition. So in my therapeutic yoga teacher trainings, that's what I do.
2- What inspired you, if any, to join the Warrior Flow 200-Hour Yoga Training’s faculty?
There are lots of yoga teacher trainings schools out there, but there are very few that offer such a rich, therapeutically oriented training. The Warrior Flow School trains teachers to work with a broad range of populations, in many different settings, at the 200 hour level. It brings yoga to folks who might not ever consider, or have access to yoga, let alone to adaptive yoga for their needs and interests. This school is unique, and I'm delighted to be part of this very special venture.
3- In simple words, what does yoga mean to you?
Yoga to me means being present to each moment, on and off the mat. From day one, yoga has met me wherever I was at the time, and during each phase of life. Yoga is not merely another exercise program; rather, it is a body-mind-spirit discipline that provides me with a roadmap for my life's journey. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali teach us about the Eight Limbed Path, and that's what yoga is for me: a way to live my life "stira-sukha," with steadiness and comfort.
4- What is the main difference between learning yoga now and when you took your first yoga training?
I learned about yoga when the dinosaurs roamed the earth! There were no formal teacher trainings then; we followed along -- for years -- as the teacher instructed the class, and after a long while they let us teach. When I asked, "Shouldn't I know something about anatomy? physiology? philosophy?" they told me to go study those fields. I did. There was a lot of copying, exploring, self-taught learning; it took years to be ready to teach. Now teachers are better equipped; they've generally undergone a minimum of 200 hours of teacher training, and many are always studying and learning more. Trainings have standards and core competencies; that's a positive development. Today's trainings are more disciplined, and there is supervision and mentoring; that's a major difference, and the profession is the better for it. None of that existed in my day, which is why I went back to study from scratch after twenty or so years of practicing, studying and teaching. I miss the years of preparation; trainings are accelerated now. Still, I feel that things are better today than they were in 1973 when I took my first yoga class.
5- In your opinion, why is this a key moment in time to learn yoga?
We live in stressful, chaotic times. Life is happening at a breakneck pace. The world demands everything now, faster, better. So in my mind, yoga provides the perfect antidote to civilization as we know it today: mindful movement, meditation, breathing and relaxation practices are more important now than ever before. The world desperately needs us.
6- Who would you be without yoga?
I can't imagine my life without yoga and meditation; these practices make me kinder, better, gentler, more patient, more compassionate.
7- Who were your role models? And what pushed you to learn and become who you are today?
Krishnamacharya: I discovered his method -- now often called Viniyoga -- after a car accident that sidelined me for months. Discovering that there was a yoga I COULD do was life-changing. His idea that we must teach the person, not the pose, changed how I practiced, and how I learned to teach.
Leslie Kaminoff, Mukunda Tom Stiles, Cheri Clampett, Judith Hanson Lasater, Adrienne Jamiel, Lynn Crimando, Sara Meeks: these teachers all teach/taught from a deeply anatomically informed, yet heart-centered place. They have had a profound influence on me: they taught me to adapt yoga to the individual. That's the standard I seek to live up to every day, and I am still and always a student of these master teachers.
8- What were the pivotal roadblocks and challenges you encountered along the way that helped you define your path?
Bringing yoga to the medical community was probably my biggest professional challenge. The medical community didn't trust yoga or "yogis;" they worried about contortionist practices that could harm their patients. They were wary about mala beads, incense, scantily clad instructors (or instructors in flowing saffron robes!) and weird "woo hoo" practices finding their way into their hospitals. They fretted about this unlicensed profession that they didn't understand and mistrusted. I found myself giving presentations armed with stacks of research articles to demonstrate the efficacy of yoga, meditation and breathwork for their patients. I didn't speak "yoga speak;" I spoke their language. Game changer! Trust has grown over the decades. Many clinicians are themselves yoga practitioners now. But we still have a long road ahead of us.
9- What can we all do right now to make this world a better place?