If I’m lucky enough to share yoga with you—whether in a group class, a one-on-one setting, or a workshop—I like to pay it forward , the way my teacher did for me. That means sharing the foundations for a safe practice with the aim of empowering you to discover your own practice. On the way, we’ll work with foundational, breath-centered, alignment-savvy patterns, weaving in detours, self-trust, and creativity.
The teacher who influenced me the most, Erich Schiffmann, calls this ‘Freedom Yoga.’ It frames ‘technique’ as a necessary, but temporary and perishable, stepping stone.
The golden treasure beyond mechanical practice is the freedom unleashed from intuitive, intelligent, and continuous deep inner listening that informs each moment, and every decision about what to do next, on the mat. It doesn’t stop there: once it suffuses fresh life into asana practice, the sticky mat becomes a training site for experimenting with self-trust in other parts of life.
The longer I’m in the teaching game, the more certain I am of just how uncertain I am about what kind of practice is best and most appropriate for you. I do my best to share the fundamentals of savvy alignment, the centrality of breath to the practice, and accessible meditation techniques. In the end, however, I know that your inner authority is more informed, intelligent, and competent than I could ever be on how yoga is most appropriately expressed through you. My job, as I see it, is to help point you toward your own exploration.
Meditation is the Heart of the Practice
Freedom Yoga isn't so much a technique as it is the essence of what the practice ultimately requests from us — a willingness to tap into and trust the vein of wisdom pulsing from deep within. Meditation is an essential ingredient in the practices that I share, because Freedom Yoga knows that thinking too much is soul's kryptonite.
Meditation holds your hand across the bridge between the familiar banks of mechanical practice to the liberating shores of intuitive living. Making your way across that bridge can be scary. It demands a monumental leap as you risk letting go of deeply engrained habits and everything you think you know.
It’s about asking for guidance and, at first, leaning into the idea of co-creating your practice with your ‘inner teacher.’
So you practice. You test it out in circumstances where the stakes aren't too high. But you test it out for yourself because you recognize there's little value in faking your way into anything. Over and over, you inquire. You listen for and act on guidance on the mat and the meditation cushion. Then you listen for and act on guidance on which socks to wear or whether to paint the walls aqua or white. Eventually, you listen for and "give expression to what you find yourself knowing" (Erich's phrase) from inner guidance on more consequential decisions.
It feels like you're surrendering your personal authority. The nerve! And you are, sort of. You're abandoning the limited definition of who you thought you were in favor of an unlimited, expansive Knowing of you who actually are. "My (limited, misperceived definition of who I am) will be done" yields to "Thy (true definition of you) will be done."
Gentle, relaxed curiosity and inner listening is all that's required.
Why and Where I Teach
I can't figure any of this out alone. That's why I cherish sharing yoga with others. We get inquisitive together and report the news and our findings to one another. There's a mutual commitment to investigate the truth and set one another free.
I teach a weekly Sunday class at Sun & Moon Yoga Studio in Arlington, Virginia. I also offer workshops and short courses exploring meditation, mindfulness and other contemplative practices, and practical skills for de-stressing and surviving the rat race.
Each summer I co-guide a weeklong exploration of mindful movement and sensory awareness at a program that I helped to co-create at my favorite place in the galaxy, the Feathered Pipe Ranch. It’s called ‘The Mindful Unplug Experience’ and it happens in Montana.
I serve as president of the Feathered Pipe Foundation, a Montana-based registered non-profit 501(c)3 educational organization that runs programs at one of the oldest and loveliest yoga retreat centers in North America. I recommend you find a way to get yourself there.
I helped to midwife and am the den mother of an educational program called The Mindful Unplug Experience. Every summer we run a weeklong retreat at the Feathered Pipe Ranch.
I spoiled myself silly with Erich Schiffmann's teacher training in 2006. I'm over-the-moon inspired by his playful, authentic, and openhearted approach to yoga. The best gift he gave me was my own practice; I do my best to pay it forward.
In 2012, I completed Embodyyoga's Mindful Yoga Therapy Teacher Training program presented by the remarkable people from the Veterans Yoga Project. Sharing trauma-sensitive yoga is near and dear to my heart.
In late 2013 I completed Level 1 training in a body movement education modality known as the Trager® Approach. That journey continues.
I have an affinity for and strong desire to share rat race survival skills. Having lived on the East Coast for over three decades, I'm intimately familiar with the challenges of trying to stay on the 'peace beam' while immersed in a digitally-saturated and frenzied urban environment and working at demanding jobs. I've learned a few tricks along the way that I like to share about movement, mindfulness, trauma release, and the game-changing wisdom of letting loose with midday dance breaks to Smokey Robinson and the Miracles.
I live in Virginia, am crazy about A Course in Miracles, and I am in love with Montana. I'm obsessed with cat nutrition, appreciate how my camera helps me to investigate the qualities of light, and I do not like dark chocolate even a little.
I sing a great deal in my car.
I'd be up a creek without my teachers. I'm thankful, too, for my teacher's teachers. And their teachers.
Those whose inspiration — on and off the mat — inform my practice, teaching, and life in ways that redound to my benefit include: Erich Schiffmann, Rajpur, Neil Boyd, Jackie Shaffer, Annie Moyer, Carol Stehl, Carie Garrett, Judy Nayer, Terri Grow, Dr. Joe Dispenza, Bruce Lipton, Susan Smiley, Alex Levin, Karma Tensum, and the love duo of Doug Geiger and Linda Setter. Then there are those who arouse my curiosity about light in all its visible and invisible dimensions through modalities like bodywork, sound, writing, and the visual arts - Michael Fraser, Jennifer Daly, Nishanka Lahr, Zane Williams, Pat Olfcheski, Laura Carpini, and my poet-yogi soulmate teacher Gary Lemons.
Each of them makes life’s ride rich and worthwhile.