My Yoga Teaching Style
My yoga classes focus on self-inquiry, body-positivity, exploration, and a sense of joy in movement and in our bodies by incorporating curiosity, humor, playfulness, and an atmosphere of loving acceptance. I invite students in my yoga classes to breathe, meditate, move their bodies, explore yoga philosophy and related topics, and build and strengthen community in a supportive and introspective environment. My primary focus is building resilience, capacity, and body positivity; I don't ultimately care that much whether you do the exact pose I'm suggesting in the exact way I offered it so much as I care that you're getting to have an experience of moving and relating to your body, breath, mind, and spirit in a way that feels supportive, positive, non-shaming, exploratory, and self-reflective. All people, bodies, genders, sizes, races, abilities, ages, and levels of experience with yoga are heartily welcomed and encouraged in my yoga classes!
I came to yoga in 2004 with a background in community activism and grassroots organizing. As a queer and fat person who has experienced, as many queer and/or larger-bodied folks (as well as lots of other folks in our society!) do, a lot of body-shaming, and body-image struggles, I was specifically in search of a framework for movement, healing, and embodiment that made space for lots of different kinds of bodies and experiences, and had a focus on process and internal experience rather than product and external appearance.
Plus, as someone who comes out of queer, social justice, climate justice, anti-free-trade and globalization, anti-racist, and fat acceptance/ fat liberation and body positivity/ body liberation movements, I wanted to explore how our spiritual and physical practices can replenish and sustain us in our important, but sometimes draining and often incredibly urgent, work in the world. As a burned-out and exhausted activist, I was looking to do some healing and replenish from activist burnout.
I found all of that. I also found that as I engaged in yoga and meditation practice, I gradually noticed a deeper sense of connection and purpose in my life, and that I was calmer, more content, more forgiving, and gentler in my relationships both with myself and with others. This was a welcome bonus!
As anyone who knows me knows, I love a training, so it was only a matter of time before I completed my 200- and 500-hour Yoga Teacher Training with The Samarya Center (which at that time had a center in the Central District of Seattle), where I was drawn by the specific focus on inclusion, diversity, and social change in yoga. This, in turn, led me to completing Somatic Experiencing training, to yin yoga and iRest Yoga Nidra, and to becoming a certified Yoga Therapist.
I have taught yoga for ten years, seen yoga therapy clients for eight years and Somatic Experiencing clients for five, and have trained and mentored hundreds of yoga teachers and yoga therapists. I am committed to teaching yoga in ways that honor and acknowledge the complexity and diversity of human experience, and to training teachers to make the healing and transformative power of yoga more accessible and welcoming for a broader range of people and bodies.
I work at the intersection of social justice and healing work by developing curriculum, mentoring yoga teachers and yoga therapists, and teaching about inclusive languaging and teaching, accessible asana, social justice, diversity, privilege, and yoga. I’m particularly interested in how we can use our own spiritual practices and path to move towards justice, as well as how we can use our own practices and knowledges to sustain and feed us, and to support and sustain others who are doing the important work of moving towards justice.
I've combined my work in yoga, yoga therapy, social justice, Somatic Experiencing, trauma healing, and nervous system regulation and resilience by developing and teaching trauma-informed yoga trainings that are rooted in a social justice lens and analysis (through Collective Resilience: Trauma-Informed Yoga and Social Justice), and collaborating with other teachers and facilitators to incorporate social justice and healing justice frameworks into our work (including through Bending Towards Justice) and the work of yoga and healing practices in our communities.
I am grateful for everything that yoga, somatics, SE, and other embodied and contemplative practices have helped me (re)discover in myself, and I am always honored to be able to share them with others. I am a certified yoga therapist through the International Association of Yoga Therapists (certified in Integrated Movement Therapy), Somatic Experiencing Practitioner(SEP) (SE is a gentle body-based therapy modality focused on nervous system re-regulation), Reiki practitioner (Level Two), yoga teacher, Theatre of the Oppressed facilitator, and trainer of yoga teachers and yoga therapists. I have additional specialized training in Thai yoga, yin yoga, trauma-informed yoga, body positivity facilitation, and iRest Yoga Nidra. I see individual clients in person or through skype for yoga therapy sessions (IMT sessions), private yoga sessions, Reiki sessions, SE sessions, and sessions that combine various of the modalities that I use, as well as IMT mentorship, and consultation on different topics in yoga and yoga therapy, especially working with at-risk and marginalized populations, trauma-informed yoga and yoga for trauma healing, yoga for larger bodies, working with queer, trans*, and LGBTQIA populations, and yoga and social justice.
I serve as Faculty with Off the Mat, Into the World, the Yoga Service Conference, the 8 Limbs Yoga Teacher Training, and The Samarya Yoga Teacher Training. I serve on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force of the International Association of Yoga Therapists. I developed and teach (along with Hala Khouri and Kyra Haglund) a trauma-informed yoga certification program that approaches trauma-informed yoga from a social justice lens, through Collective Resilience: Trauma-Informed Yoga and Social Justice. I collaborate with a US- and Canada- wide collective of highly skilled social justice and yoga facilitators to offer trainings centered on yoga, equity, anti-oppression analysis, and social justice for yoga teachers, yoga teacher trainings, and yoga practitioners around the country. You can learn more about that work at the Bending Towards Justice website.
My Teaching Style
All of my offerings, trainings, workshops, etc, are taught with both a social justice and trauma-informed lens. I don't believe we can effectively do work or talk about trauma without talking about social justice, or vice versa.
I believe we have to do the both/and of individual healing work, collective healing work, and collective action and systems change.
I'm committed to encouraging yoga teachers to examine their own individual experiences, biases, and actions to make shifts towards creating and holding space for greater experiences of welcome and belonging for all people, experiences, identities, and bodies.
And I'm committed to encouraging yoga teachers, students, studios, and organizations, to examine how they might apply and practice social justice and anti-oppression principles at institutional and systemic levels.
I believe in holistic and systems work, and meeting ourselves and each other in our wholeness through removing barriers. I believe in both compassion and accountability-- that true community and collective care requires building relationship and trust, telling the truth, acknowledging harm, and making repair.
I think we are more powerful together. I aim to hold spaces where we can build a container of trust and community, where we can lean into discomfort and take responsibility and action around privilege, power dynamics, and harm- where we don't dispose of each other, but learn from each other how to show up for each other in our wholeness and full humanity.
I think yoga and social justice are ultimately asking us to engage in the same sort of process-- the removal of barriers, of those layers of enculturation that separate us from our true selves, our true nature, and each other.
I am committed to practicing and teaching yoga, somatics, mindfulness, and bodywork as tools for social justice, community building, trauma healing, and personal and community transformation.
I believe that connecting with, exploring, having fun, and developing capacity to be in and trust our bodies is an integral part of healing so we can do the important work we want to do and are meant to do in the world.
I am invested in creating spaces for movement, embodiment, and exploration that strip away and break down self-judgment, body-judgment, and strictly limited concepts of what an acceptable body looks like or can do.
I see the role of a yoga therapist or a yoga teacher as a partner walking with you on your path. I can offer resources, practices, ideas, and support, but ultimately, the journey and the experience is yours.
Yoga, movement, mindfulness, Somatic Experiencing, yoga therapy, spiritual practice, self-inquiry, and IMT are practices that every body and every human can participate in and benefit from!
When we do our individual work of capacity-building, trauma-healing, and increasing grounding and embodiment, we are able to show up to the world, our relationships, and our work in a different way. I believe that individual healing (and especially individual healing done in the context and container of community, and of a systemic political analysis) is an integral and important part of the larger work of social justice movements and social change work.