I can't pinpoint an exact moment where my yogic journey began because I know I was on this path much longer that I have ever known. Maybe even lifetimes, but that's a discussion for another time. I vividly remember the first time I practiced yoga. I had a DVD and I must have been in late middle school or early high school. I remember the instructor had a blonde ponytail and she wore a blue top and her pants matched. When I finished practicing I was really excited to tell my mom that it was "all about breathing". To which she replied "yeah, so is everything in life". That was obviously not what I meant. Shortly after that I was busy being a miserable teenager destined to break out of the nest and into the world.
In college my roommate (still one of the coolest women I know) and I were so poor and so much fun. We studied horoscopes and read tarot cards in our free time. We made so much crappy art and truly lived our very best lives. We partied, studied, struggled, fell down, got it together, and took no shit. These times are the ones I look back on most often and think "wow, I've always been this way".
I met my husband, Jon, while we were both in college. He was a Marine and I was a free spirit. We had long conversations about what our future would possibly look like. Neither of us had any idea. We were kids! We were madly in love. We got married right after I graduated college and we moved less than a month after our wedding. We would live in five different states and two different countries in our first four years of marriage. Our second move brought us to Pensacola, Florida.
Pensacola is where I took my first conscious step onto the yogic path. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. It all started a few months into new year and two of my best friends moved away (military life). I was trying to talk everyone at work into going to aerial yoga with me. I found the studio (URU Yoga and Beyond) and everything, they just had to go with me. No one would so when my friends moved I decided I was going alone.
I walk into my first ever yoga class, an aerial yoga class taught by my (now) soul sister Amanda. I was the oldest student in class as a 25 year old. There were eight teenagers jumping and flipping on these silk hammocks that I didn't even know how to touch. I thought, cool, this is going to suck. It did not suck. It was so much fun and I felt so strong. This is also where I heard my first "om" a sound that made me uncomfortable which I would later come to love. I was hooked. I kept coming back every week. Soon Amanda and I became friends and she talked me into going to a regular yoga class with a yoga mat and everything. This was also new and intimidating because I didn't know any of the words or where I was going. In my first mat yoga class, the teacher taught astavakrasana (eight angle pose). I got into and I was very impressed with myself. I was hooked again, but this time I had a friend to go with. One day Jon looked at me and said "I wish I liked anything as much as you like yoga" and I thought, "I don't like yoga".
I had asked about joining the Yoga Teacher Training that URU was hosting but Jon had a major junction in his career path coming and we had no idea how long we would be in Pensacola. I couldn't commit to something I may not be able to finish if I lived 18 hours away in Texas.
I decided to invest in my first 'nice' yoga mat. I spent a long time deciding because I had a weird relationship with investing money in myself (which I have acknowledged and released). I finally decided on my purple Manduka Eco Lite mat. I showed up at URU with my new mat in hand so excited to practice. They had just gotten in new Jade yoga mats and this bright pink one was speaking to my soul. I couldn't possibly spend another $60 on yoga mat, it took me 9 months to invest in the brand new Manduka in my hand. Two weeks later December rolls around and URU hosts a competition to see which yogi can attend the most classes in the month. The grand prize? A yoga mat of your choice. So I decide this is where I get my pink mat that my heart so desperately wanted, but I know I didn't need. I attended 17 yoga classes in my first 7 days of December. Amanda on the mat right beside me for most of them. That's when the studio owner noticed our dedication and had some free time so she offered us a private intensive yoga teacher training for just the two of us.
We completed our 200 hour YTT together, and I won my pink yoga mat. If you've ever taken a yoga class with me you may have noticed that I always teach from this pink mat because it is the reason I ever became a yoga teacher. I am forever grateful.
Jon and I move to Texas for six month where I became an instant part of the most loving yoga community I have ever experienced. These yogis were so cool, so successful, so caring, so loving, and so supportive. I was given space to grow and sit in my seat as a teacher for the first time. I learned so much, and if it weren't for their support I don't know that I ever would have gotten over my insecurities to share my teaching voice. I still remember some of these powerful classes I took there to this day.
Next, we moved to North Carolina. This is where I walked into Infinite Yoga and Wellness. My heart felt at home instantly. Dani, the owner was one of the most spiritual and badass women I have ever met. She hosted women's circles, ceremonies, and truly believed and honored the universe. She gave me some books that truly shook my soul. This is where I started to really lean into the spiritual side of yoga instead of just the physical aspect.
Finally, we moved to Okinawa, Japan where we live currently. I got really into my head during this move. I will say moving your whole life and two dogs across the planet is not an easy task. Living in a new country is not easy. I honestly tried to take it easy on myself by deciding not to teach yoga. I lied to myself about a lot of reasons:
"You don't make any money teaching yoga" - Duh that is why no one teaches yoga because of the money.
"There are too many rules to teach on base" - There are always rules, and these are no different.
"There are no studios in town" - There are, and I was being a twit.
"I'm just focusing on living here" - I can live here AND share my teaching at the same time.
I was miserable, and I didn't even know why. I felt like a stranger in my own body. Months went by between yoga practices. Finally, I got my shit together and started consistently going to one yoga class a week. Desiree, my teacher and friend mentioned that I should at least sub because they always need them on base. Then I started teaching classes and I started to feel more like myself, but not completely happy.
Amanda (remember that teacher from my very first yoga class ever? (and my 200hr YTT)) and I still talked all of the time. She said "This is crazy, but I was to go to India and take a 300 hour YTT" and I said "let's go". No idea what we were getting into we booked our trip to Samadhi Yoga Ashram in Rishikesh, India. We spent almost the whole month of February 2020 living in the ashram. It was honestly one of the best experiences of my life. I hate when people say that, I mean it. The yogis that took class with us were amazing and will always hold a space in my heart. The teachers were truly incredible and so knowledgeable. It was astonishing how much I learned while I was there. We washed our clothes by hand. We ate only vegetarian and had no alcohol the whole time. We practiced asana for 1.5-3 hours each day. We woke up before the sunrise. While typing this it sounds exhausting, but I would go back right now. I cried leaving India and I cannot wait to return. I have been lucky enough to travel to a few different countries, all of which have their own amazing culture and experiences. This trip to India was easily my favorite experience I've ever had.
Now, I'm back in Okinawa during the COVID-19 pandemic. All classes are canceled and most yoga classes that I attend are online or outdoors if I'm lucky. Ive been dedicated to my spiritual practice as well as my physical practice since I've been home. I meditate daily and I spend my free time learning more about enlightenment. I have a long and beautiful path of learning in front of me and I cannot wait to grow. It's intimidating putting yourself out there and speaking your truth, but that's where the magic happens.
My goal is to share my voice in caring, inclusive, and compassionate way that helps others on their path. Whether that path be a yogic path, or just your path in life I hope my offerings are beneficial and you feel like you can be honored. I am so very grateful that you're here.
Let's make magic.