In 2006, I started teaching classes at Yoga on the Square in Pittsburgh. I finished my RYT 200 in 2008 through 3rd Street Yoga and my RYT 300 in 2014 through EmbodiYoga with Lisa Clark. Since then I have taught classes at Vintage Senior Center in East Liberty, St. Joseph's High School in Natrona Heights and the Pittsburgh Public Schools through Yoga in Schools. In 2019, I became a Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapist (600) and now I have private practice in Squirrel Hill area of Pittsburgh.
A friend invited me to attend my first yoga class in 2003. I was a tired and overwhelmed Mom of four children and suffering from Post-Partum depression. Going to yoga helped me to reconnect with myself. I started regularly attending class at a local studio that empahsized gentle hatha, flow and restorative yoga. In 2006, I was invited to help teach yoga to urban kids through Yoga in Schools. It wasn't long before I investigated yoga trainings and began to teach at Yoga in the Square, my home studio.
Integrating Faith and Yoga
Like many, I grew up in a single-parent family and our church provided a supportive community throughout my childhood. While yoga hit the mainstream American cultural consciousness in the 1960's, it was virtually unknown in the Evangelical community, steeped in the sacred/secular theology of the modern era. I internalized this body-spirit split. In young adulthood I began to struggle with anxiety and depression which I managed fairly well until I became a Mom. With each pregnancy, I experienced post-pardem depression and anxiety. While family, friends and my church community were helpful; inwardly, I felt like my body had betrayed me, leaving me feeling profoundly inadequate and ill-equipped to manage my new life as a Mom.
My first experience with yoga was like refreshment for my body and my soul. My friend and mentor, Joanne invited me to a retreat called Christians Practicing Yoga led by a Fr. Thomas Ryan, author of the book, Prayer of the Heart and Body: Yoga and Meditation as Christian Spiritual Discipline. Ironically, through Fr. Tom's teaching I learned that yoga means "union" and the ancient yogic texts teach that the purpose of the practice is to grow into deeper relationship with the Divine. It felt natural to incorporate my personal yoga practice with centering prayer, lexio Divina and meditation. Active participation in the Christians Practicing Yoga community has enriched my personal and professional life.
In 2012, I learned about a Christian Spiritual Formation program called Transforming Center. I was intrigued by the program for two reasons. My husband had gone through the program and I saw how life-changing it was for him. Secondly, as an Evangelically-centered community, I was surprised to see an entire retreat dedicated to the body. I chose to participate in Transforming community while taking my 300 hr advanced yoga studies from 2013-2014. I found the combination of these studies profoundly fruitful and life changing.
While I locate myself in the Christian story, my role as a Yoga Therapist is to support clients in cultivating spiritual practices that support their own stories, values, beliefs and traditions.
Deepening my practice, studies and healing
In 2013, I started my RYT 300. with EmbodiYoga with Lisa Clark. EmbodiYoga combines Body-Mind Centering principles with Hatha yoga studies to explore increasing levels of consciousness through the felt sense of the body.
This exploration was profoundly transformative. I learned how to listen to my body, how to nurture and allow my body to restore which began to balance my over-active and busy life. I was invited consider that my body holds cellular memory...a felt sense of safety and connection with myself that is first experienced as an infant. I got in touch with the felt sense of disconnection from myself and my family of origin. This style of embodied yoga created opportunities for me to re-connect, creating a new felt-sense of safety and over-flowed into my current relationships with family and friends as well.
My private practice began in 2011 when a friend who had never done yoga asked me to help her with breathing and being present in her body. She was in intensive therapy and her therapist recommended that she try yoga. I found that much of what I learned translated to one-on-one sessions. Over the past 8 years, my love of working with individuals sparked my search for a Yoga Therapy training to become a Yoga Therapist.
Becoming a Yoga Therapist
I knew that I wanted to help clients connect with the "felt sense" of themselves in their bodies. This is key to healing trauma and stress that may be stored in the body. But I also wanted to know how to help clients make the connection between what is happening in their bodies with what is happening in their lives. I chose Phoenix Rising Yoga therapy because it combines contemporary psychology, yoga philosophy, neuroscience and Buddhist mindfulness.
During Phoenix Rising sessions, you are invited and coached to drop awareness into your body to connect more fully with yourself. The ancient Yogi's describe 5 layers of our being -- the physical, the energetic, the emotional, the intellect, and the spiritual aspects of our bodies. In PRYT, there is a saying, "It all gets to be here now". My hope as a Practitioner is to create a sacred space for clients to befriend their bodies, to listen and name what is happening and to be support clients as they integrate their inner experiences within the larger contest of their lives.