– Can you share what your passions are outside of the yoga studio?  I am passionate about healthy living. With an Associate of Science Degree in Dietetics, I enjoy trying new exercise classes & videos, cooking meals from whole foods and making the time for self-care. I believe we are all on a journey to better ourselves and in my opinion the best way to do that is through taking care of your body, mind and spirit in every stage of your journey. Then sharing what we learn with others. I’m passionate about nature. I love to be outside during the spring, summer and fall, hiking in the woods, walking around local neighborhood and exploring new places. Cold weather is not my thing and if I could hibernate during those cold months I would. During the winter I’m passionate about soft fluffy blankets, hot tea, hot chocolate, crockpot meals, soy candles, reading and lots of snuggling with my husband and 2 cats. I like to craft as well and may have a slight addiction to Pinterest.

Would you like to share anything about your personal life, including family and/or pets? I am an office manager by day, working the typical 8am-5pm Monday through Friday gig. My husband, Sean, and I having been saving for the last 2 years to buy our first home, we are just starting to look now and are very excited to have a home sometime next year. We have 2 cats. Even though I’m a self-proclaimed, “dog person,” I wouldn’t give up my two tuxedo farm-rescued kitties for anything. Diesel is 9 and Tinker Bella is 8. They both came from Bakers Farm in Washington, PA. Their personalities couldn’t be any different and we love them so much. I should call myself an animal lover instead of a “dog person” because I definitely have a soft spot for all of God’s creatures. My favorite animal is hands down the elephant and I hope to one day get to visit an elephant sanctuary or nature park. Sean and I have been together for over ten years and married for 6. We are in many ways very opposite and have been called “the old married couple” since our days of dating; we banter like a couple that has been together for 50 years. This seems to mirror the personalities of our furbabies. We are praying to be blessed with children to have a family of our own because for us our family is everything.

What is something that yoga has helped you realize in your life, or made you more aware of? Yoga has so many aspects to it and it’s hard to express entirely all that it is and all that it has done for and within me. I came to my first yoga class in 2011 after throwing out my back six months earlier. I realized I needed to do something different to take care of my body and yoga studios started to pop up around the area, so I asked myself why not give it a try. I had previously done at home yoga with videos as part of different exercise programs and enjoyed the movements. I read about the benefits for the body and that yoga could help those with back pain. I was a bit intimidated to take my first studio class so I called a friend to go with me. The first class held so many emotions for me, the fear of a group fitness class and being judged when I had no idea what I was doing, the excitement of trying something new, the concern in being unsure my back was ready to do this without pain, the love of tapping into the fluid movement which took me back to my years of dancing and the physical and mental challenge of realizing yoga is not easy; ‘for real, did the teacher just say that that was just the warm up?’ was a thought that made me question walking into the studio just minutes before. I was hooked after the first month of weekly classes. There is a magic that happens in all the ups and downs of a class. Yoga brought me back to my spirituality and to God. I’d had a strict religious upbringing that didn’t’ sit well with me, I lost my mom to cancer in my early 20’s after she battled cancer and other health issues for 12 years, and I had a rough relationship with my father, all of which seemed to make me question there being a God or bigger meaning to life. But when you move your body in ways that allow you to breathe deeply, listen to your true inner self, gain physical and mental strength and connect with the energy in a shared safe space of a studio there is no other way for me to explain it other than a spiritual experience. I started finding myself again and finding my faith. Yes, yoga strengthen my back and helped me live without daily back pain, but it also brought me to a community of people who are kind, open-minded, sharing and great listeners. I found my lost confidence and gained a sense of control over how I react and interact with the world around me. Community is also a huge part of yoga for me. Yoga brings people from all walks of life, backgrounds, financial situations, age groups, nationalities and religions together to move, breathe and share positive energy in a safe place. There is power in a positive diverse community. Without a doubt a regular yoga practice brought a sense of peace and calmness over my life that I was missing. It brings my perfectionist, over thinking, self conscience part of me back down to more balanced state. In short, yoga helped me changed my mind, change my body, and change my life. Finding a yoga practice has been and continues to be a blessing for me.

Do you have a favorite yoga pose or place to practice? My favorite yoga pose changes just like I change over the years. Sometimes it’s a new arm balance I’ve just mastered like astavakrasana (eight angle), sometimes it’s a strength pose like parivrtta anjaneyasana (revolved crescent lunge), or sometimes a pose like eka pada rajakapotasana (half pigeon). Right now my back is loving uttanasana (ragdoll) and I find it relaxing and calming mentally, so right now I’d say my favorite pose it uttanasana. If you ask me in a month my answer may change.  I really like practicing in yoga studios having a teacher guide you so you don’t have to think about the sequence and sharing the energy in the room. I’m also a big advocate for practicing outside in the grass!

– Why do you teach?  I teach because yoga helped me through many challenges and has changed my life for the better. I felt drawn to share the gifts yoga gave me with others. It’s not something I could keep a secret. When anything touches you deeply for the better I feel you are called to share it. I’d always enjoyed helping people and knew I wanted to do something that would be in service of others. I spent years trying to figure out what it was that I could do that would benefit others and be able to be genuine in my delivery. Healthy living is a passion of mine, which stems from watching my mom struggle with her health for 12 years. Taking care of your health really changes your quality of life and everyone deserves to have good health. I don’t know a better way of contributing to my community than sharing a practice that offers physical, metal and spiritual health benefits. Yoga helped me to help myself and I 100% believe it can do that for everyone.  Yoga is the whole package.

Speed Round

Country or City: City

Vanilla or Chocolate: Chocolate

Dog or Cat: Dog

Flip-flops or boots: Flip-flops

Beach or Mountains: Beach

Savasana or Childs pose: Child’s Pose

Shopping or camping: Camping

Hummus or guacamole: Guacamole

Wine or beer (or Tequila): tequila

Peanut butter or almond butter: Peanut butter

Decaf or regular: decaf

Coffee or chai: Chai

Favorite meal- Tacos!