Why Art of Yoga?
“Yoga is known by almost everyone as a philosophy or as a path, but very few know that yoga is also an art. No artist can define his own art; what art is can only be expressed through art itself, and not by words. Arts can be of many kinds, including useful arts, healing arts, fine arts, performing arts, and so on. The art of yoga embraces all these levels, and is thus the fundamental art. Through yoga, the human being comes into contact with the soul; thus yoga is a spiritual art. Each asana has an exact geometrical and architectural shape; thus it is also a fine art. Yoga brings health and happiness to the practitioner; thus it is both a healing and a useful art. When the beauty and harmony of the asanas are appreciated by onlookers, yoga also becomes a performing art. Three qualities are required if one is to become an artist. One must have the aptitude, or the ability to acquire mastery of the art; one must have a tremendous love for one’s art in order to work on it with determination, effort, and concentration, and one must have imagination and creativity to develop the art along new and unknown paths.”
-Excerpt from “The Tree of Yoga” ~ B.K.S. Iyengar
I am an artist. Like many artists, we express our art in various ways. I can humbly offer my deep respect and love for the inner and outer art that is yoga by sharing it as a teacher. I am fortunate to explore the path of a teacher because so many people have shared their presence, knowledge, inspirations, humor, trust, and personal experiences so generously with me over the years, both in the classroom and in life. The wonderful thing about being a teacher, is that we continue to learn not only from our own teachers, but from our students.
The opportunity and honor to teach students of all ages, in so many different settings, wouldn’t even be possible without my own wonderful, sage teachers. They continue to guide me on an ever-evolving path, and I am so grateful for their guidance. Every single one of them has shaped my approach to my own practice, to how I teach, to how I live.
As a young dancer and gymnast growing up in Fountain Valley, California, my first educator of the body as an instrument for artistic expression came from Christine Baltes. Later on, under the guidance of Linda Sohl-Ellison at Orange Coast College, I was introduced to the beauty and release of modern dance, and the art of presence in stage performance. This education continued and deepened with all of the amazing resident and visiting professors at UCLA’s World Arts & Cultures Department, as well as a scholarship position with Tremaine Dance School in North Hollywood.
I dabbled in the world of commercial dance for awhile, but found my real love of performing and collaborating within the growing modern dance community in Los Angeles. I was fortunate to perform with Helios Dance Theater, Maria Gillespie, and with Baker-Tarpage Dance Project, to name a few.
Pilates and Yoga are often the kindly companions many dancers lean on to keep their body feeling balanced, so as injuries slowly started to occur, that is naturally where my path took me. While rehabilitating from an ACL reconstruction surgery in my knee, I started taking Pilates lessons. My very first, formal teacher training in the Pilates Method with Ivon Dahl, taught me about refining the balance and structure of the body, how to integrate strength with flexibility, and was my first real introduction to healing from the inside out through breathing deeply.
Later that same year, a friend literally dragged me to a yoga class. In the first five minutes, I wasn’t sure I would make it through to see the end of class. As I exited the studio, I still wasn’t quite sure what had happened, but I realized that I felt more calm, more at ease, and more at peace in my mind than I had in years. Something happened in that studio that my heart recognized, and thinking back on it, what had happened was yoga.
That same year, I met Max Strom and began to study with him at Yogaworks, Santa Monica, and then continued to explore the path of yoga under his benevolent guidance and wise teachings at Sacred Movement in Venice, California. I was fortunate to cross paths with so many deeply inspiring teachers and students while studying, and later teaching, at Sacred Movement. What a wonderful community! The first teacher training I participated in was a rich offering of the combined voices of Max Strom, Shiva Rea, Saul David Raye, and Sherry Brourman. That experience opened my inner Pandora’s box of an appetite for learning and living yoga that continues today. I continue, to this day, to take trainings and workshops every year, and the depth of the yogic path continues to enthrall me.
Max Strom and Shiva Rea continue to be my most influential mentors. Max has generously given me his time and support in so many ways- whether it be by simply listening, or by encouraging me to step outside of my own comfort zone. I am able to learn from both Max and Shiva on a subtler, deeper level by observing and assisting classes, teacher trainings, and deep study on retreats. The ever-evolving Shiva Rea continues to offer so many fertile learning opportunities for continued study in the Prana Vinyasa Flow community- I am grateful to be always inspired by her eloquence and creativity. In-depth workshops, class study, and specialized trainings (in various fields) with Shiva Rea, Max Strom, Maria Gillespie, Seane Corne, Maty Ezraty, Sharon Gannon and David Life, Tim Miller, Judith Lassiter, Ray Long, Natalie Ferreira, Matthew Cohen, Hala Khouri, Suzanne Sterling, Carol McDowell, Chris Tompkins, and Ayurvedic sage, Dr. Parla Jayagopal have also influenced my field of understanding and teaching expression in so many beautiful ways. From my heart lotus, a thousand thanks to each of them.
In 2003, I partnered up with Page Sieffert and co-owned The Pilates Room & Yoga Lounge in Hermosa Beach, California, through 2010. It was a great opportunity to share yoga and pilates with the local community, build relationships and friendships, explore teaching, and learn about the “business” of running a business. The fabulous Jennifer Swarbrick took over The Pilates Room in 2010, and brings fresh new energy to this bustling little neighborhood studio.
Being liberated from managing a studio has given me more time…..to live yoga, to play, to learn, to experience, to surf, and to pursue my interests in sharing yoga with other aspiring teachers. As wife to an amazing hubby, and mama of two beautiful, joyful children, I am stoked to have more time to spend with my family.
I love being a part of the local yoga and pilates community here in the south bay, and feel very fortunate and inspired in teaming up with Genevieve Pujalet and Suzy Nece in fostering Yoga Mittra Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Training School. The journey continues…