When/how did you discover yoga?

I discovered yoga in 2013 in Los Angeles, while undergoing intensive treatment for bulimia nervosa, an eating disorder I’d struggled with for 10 years. The hard work of recovery was stressful and I was desperate for anything that would help me tolerate its mental and physical challenges. I’d heard yoga was good for that, so I tried my first class at YogaWorks. It wasn’t easy – but I felt so integrated afterwards, like my body and mind were actually at temporary peace with one another. And I found it impossible, after doing something that felt so full of loving kindness for my body (practicing yoga), to abuse it in the way I previously had with my eating disorder. I decided to make yoga a tool in my recovery process. The more I practiced, the more I found that this space of wholeness grew inside me. Of course, I also noticed my body becoming stronger and more pliable, and – more importantly – I noticed my internal dialogue softening, becoming truly appreciative and accepting of all parts of myself. Yoga for me began as a tremendous facilitator of my own recovery, but evolved into a regular practice amenable to all stages of life and health – as well as an amazing healing gift I wanted to share!

What do you love about teaching yoga?

I love helping students get in touch with their own wholeness, that part of them that is and always has been and always will be complete, just as they are. The first of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras tells us that yoga happens NOW! – not when we have a certain strength or flexibility or job title or relationship, but right now, in THIS breath. And it’s only from this present moment awareness and appreciation that we begin to discover we’ve been whole all along. This isn’t always easy to tap into, but it is such a privilege to watch it become real for students over time. I also love helping people try new poses! It brings out a playfulness in all of us to explore something new, and it’s my hope that being brave in this way on the mat helps my students remember they possess the courage to be open to growth in the rest of their lives as well.

How has yoga and meditation changed your life?

These practices have helped make my body “home” for my mind again. Yoga and meditation have given me tools for exploration and honest reflection on whatever is going on in my life. They’ve made me more introspective, more patient, more joyful, more confident, and more available to whatever comes my way in life. And they’ve also provided a safe and endlessly adaptable way to move with greater ease through numerous injuries and “special conditions,” like my current pregnancy (:

Why do you teach at Bella Prana?

It was the first studio I visited on the first morning I woke up in Tampa after moving here, and an instant yoga home thanks to the genuine connections I felt with many instructors right away. Quite a few of my local friendships began right here with spontaneous conversations before or after classes!