What enticed you to embark on the journey of Yoga?
Originally I practiced yoga to stretch my body and prepare for dancing… and to relax and heal my body from dancing! I was a breakdancer for about 13 years and yoga played an integral part of the exploration of my body. I would bend and become many forms I could not have otherwise. It quickly became much more than a physical practice though. It has been a deep exploration of self, self-empowerment, and connection to a greater zest for living life.
How would you describe the art of yoga?
Yoga is indeed an art. If you look at it like a painting, then it’s as if you are painting a picture of your practice. Each breath is like a stroke of beauty or whatever you make of it. Each breath contains a shade of color that you want to bring into your being in that moment. Each movement contains a depth of awareness that invites a thought, emotion or feeling to come through. Yoga is a portrait of your most aligned self in the present moment. The art of yoga is a canvas for you to express yourself through.
What advice would you give to someone that is new to the yoga practice?
Take your time. Take it easy. It’s a long path that goes up and down and in and out. Take it seriously; though don’t take it too seriously! Dedicate yourself to this path as much as is suitable for you and make sure you have fun doing it!
What impactful change has your practice brought upon your personal life?
Wow. Yoga changed my life in many ways. I think the greatest impact was when I realized how much I wanted to live. Just be alive. At a certain point in my early years I really had no desire to live past 30. Yoga reinvigorated my love of life as a whole. When I took my first month long teacher training in 2007, I quit drugs and alcohol and changed my diet drastically to be in the training. This cleared me out of the fog I was living in before. I went into the training one way and came out very different. I could now see clearly how important, beautiful and meaningful my life was. Yoga impacted my life by changing my view on how much of a gift life really is. Through Yoga I have bettered my relationships, my overall health and myself. I haven’t found a more holistic system for breaking out of habits and patterns and revealing a deep truth. Yoga has been like a light that spread throughout my whole being and continues to impact me on a daily basis.
What is your favorite asana and why? What benefits does this asana provide?
Viparita Karani is my favorite asana of all time. This pose has been my savior of sour muscles and helped me relax and find center in times of chaotic movement in life. Though originally marked as a mudra in the ancient texts, it is now considered a delicious Restorative asana. This pose brings deep relaxation to the whole nervous system. More specifically it relaxes the deep muscles of the lower back and core and allows the hips to drop the effort, like a passive relaxation for the hips and low back. This pose also allows the blood from the legs to flow in a new way so the heart pumps new blood through the veins in the legs. This allows the flow of energy and creates the movement needed for healing most any leg, ankle or foot injuries as well as prevents arthritic conditions and varicose veins. Viparita Karani also helps with the digestive organs as they can rest upside down from their normal position, which invites digestion to occur. My Restorative teacher who I practiced daily with for 3 years would call this the lake at the belly pose. This is because the body fluid pools up in the belly and when you come out of the pose a blast of healing fluid enters the legs. This is a magically relaxing pose and does a lot of healing with little to no effort. Definitely my fave pose hands down (or hands up above the head, or one on the belly and one on the heart, haha).
What does it mean to you to align mind, body and spirit?
To align the main parts of one whole self. To bring together the different aspects of the whole human being. To use the powerful tools of a person’s life together in a comprehensive way. To connect with our greatest power. To be centered in a state of being-ness.
How do you meditate and tie this in with your yoga practice?
I meditate for a short time at the end of my asana practice these days. I feel that this way I’m using the asana practice for what it was designed for, to be more comfortable in the body to meditate. I feel more at home in my seat after I’ve stretch and strengthened and gotten out of my patterns for the morning. I also meditate for a longer time at the end of the day just before bed, which induces a relaxed state of being. This is a relaxing preparation for sleep and helps to align myself with my greatest dreams. It also helps.