I love teaching yoga. To everyone. Anyone can benefit from yoga, no matter what kind of shape you’re in, or how inflexible you think you are. I came to yoga a physical mess. That’s why I always smile when people tell me, “I can’t do yoga, I’m not flexible.” I was in my early 30′s, with arthritis in both knees. I could barely bend them, and although I fancied myself a strong (former) athlete, I had a tough time getting through any activity without pain.
My yoga practice took a sharp turn in 2005, around the time I met two of my most influential teachers, Todd Norian and Ann Greene. It was around the same time that the hedge fund I was working for suddenly shut down, and after spending 17 years on Wall Street I was forced into reflection about what I truly wanted. This was a pretty serious exercise for me, as I had never even thought about it before.
With a lot of yoga and quiet time, my heart kept telling me I wanted to coach diving. Springboard diving, not the scuba kind. I was a diver growing up and in college, and I coached throughout my youth and even after college while I was in grad school. I loved the joy and freedom of jumping high and spinning, I loved the feel of “crushing” a dive, hitting the water nearly perfectly vertical, creating a tiny hole in the surface with my hands through which my whole body could slide. I wanted to share that feeling of abandon and play with kids. With a lot of support from my husband, I embarked on my new/old career of coaching.
And when I met Todd and Ann, it seemed to me that yoga (with good alignment) and diving could be synergistic. After years of practicing yoga, I finally began to realize that finding freedom in pigeon inspired the same feeling of intensity as a front 2 ½ somersault (ok, a little bit different – I don’t get the same adrenaline rush in pigeon, but there is a freedom in opening one’s hips). I quickly decided upon meeting my teachers that I wanted my divers to practice yoga. I wanted them to learn strength and flexibility, both in their bodies and their spirits. I wanted them to learn balance, on their mats and off. I wanted them to learn to be in their bodies, so that all the distractions that can make diving challenging would be mitigated for them. Mostly, I wanted them to feel good about themselves and what they were capable of.
So truth be told, I took Todd and Ann’s teacher training to learn how to teach yoga to my divers. But in short order, I realized that wasn’t going to be enough for me. I wanted everyone I knew to feel good, to feel free in their bodies. It was such a revelation to me when I learned that despite my physical limitations, I could develop a decent yoga practice, one that helped me heal and served my body and my heart. And I figured there were others like me. Those are the people I love to teach – people who would like to create more joy, more freedom in their lives. I have a friend who, each time she accomplishes a challenging pose, calls out “somebody, quick, take my picture!” And every time she says it, she makes me laugh like it’s the first time. It’s that kind of unrestrained joy that I love to inspire in my students. And I love teaching people who don’t mind laughing during a yoga class. Because what is wild abandon without laughter?
These days I’m a ERYT 500 Yoga Alliance certified Hatha Yoga teacher, a Reiki Master and a Certified Thai Yoga Bodyworker, as well as a diving coach. And every day I have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming. I still experience pain in my body, and my life isn’t perfect. But practicing and sharing my yoga means that for me, it keeps getting better.