1) How did you start practicing Yoga? Tell us about your early yoga experiences.
I started practicing yoga when my doctor recommended it as a way to heal after a mild injury. Yoga was a gentler way for me to recover without causing further injury to myself. A year into my practice, I was happy to find Harlem Yoga Studio in my neighborhood!
2) When was the moment you knew that Yoga was different or special – more than just another “exercise” or way to be physical?
The moment I knew that yoga was more than just “exercise” came after a stressful 8+ hour day at my full time job. Just as many of us do, I ran to a yoga class as soon as soon as I escaped work. After class, I noticed I was much happier than I normally would have been. I found that the kinks of an 8 hour work day could easily be unwound with just 1 hour of yoga leaving me burden free physically and mentally.
3) What is your favorite and least favorite pose, and why?
Hmmm..there are definitely poses that make me groan (like Camel pose!) but I have learned that the most challenging poses are usually my greatest teachers.
4) What practices do you use to feel more peaceful, present and content?
Meditation, most definitely, keeps me more peaceful, present, and content. I try to set at least 10 minutes of my day aside for my meditation practice.
5) What Yama or Niyama do your find most helpful in your daily life, and why? (Yamas are “observances” that are recommended for relating to the outside world, and Niyamas are observances for dealing with internal struggles)
Yama – Aparigraha (non-attachment)
Niyama – Tapas (self-discipline)
Both my Yama and Niyama go hand in hand. I tend to want ALL the things. I’m the type of person to go crazy at a sale. I then end up with a lot of things that I never use. Aparigraha helps keep me mindful during my bargain binges. Through Tapas I am constantly working to keep myself in check and take only what I need.
6) Our theme for the month of July is the third chakra – the Manipura Chakra – which is often referred to as the Lustrous Gem. The Manipura chakra relates to our personal Power. Where do you find your power? What helps you maintain it? What practices enhance it?
My earlier answer ties into this as well. When I learn to let go and practice Aparigraha, I find my power. We always want to feel in control and do everything ourselves. Being a control freak was when I felt most out of control. Now I practice mindfulness techniques, such as meditation, pranayama, etc to release control.
7) Tell something about teaching at Harlem Yoga Studio
Harlem Yoga Studio has such a neighborhood feel to it. Sometimes you can get lost in the shuffle of a larger studio but here there is a real sense of community. That space of time before and after class when we can chat and laugh with each other is the best. We’re also always reaching out and connecting with our neighbors to build positive relationships and support each others growth.