What inspires you as a yoga instructor and the owner of a yoga facility?
Everything inspires me! The more I tune into the simple things that surround me the more ideas flow. My students and the stories they share with me are my greatest inspiration. Their success and ability to share community with one another keep me focused on building from the ground up. When students struggle with a pose, life stress, or coming to yoga for the first time to find a path to feel better, I am moved to create a space that is inclusive and has something to assist each individual.
Talk about your journey as a woman at the top of your field and the challenges you faced along the way.
I am fortunate in my current field that it is filled with mainly strong and powerful women role models. Yoga as it was originally practiced was made by men for men, and women were not considered strong enough to participate. In the West, women have strongly tipped the scale and about 80 percent of the participants now are female.
There are two parts of the journey to the top of my field. One is the consistent and deeply dedicated practice to education, yoga and acrobatics. It has been a daily practice. When someone comments on a physical posture I am in with “you make it look so easy….” I always have to laugh a bit. Of course, it’s easy now. I’ve been practicing for two hours a day, six days a week, for over twenty years. I have fallen out of postures more time than most people have ever tried and I have days where I would rather stay in bed, but if we truly want to be good at anything we have to be willing to put in the work to get there.
I was always hungry to better myself and that continues by practicing humility, submitting myself to continuous mentorship and being open to learning, reevaluating, letting go and relearning.
The second aspect is not only getting good at what I do, but overcoming my shyness and fears to put myself out there and seek the opportunities that would help me progress. I knew that I would not get on to the global stage of teaching by staying in Stroudsburg waiting for someone to notice me. Instead I apprenticed under master teachers and traveled with them to conferences and training programs, getting the opportunity to both learn and to network.
It was through assisting other teachers that opportunities began to arise for me to teach; or they decided to move on to other gigs and put me in their place. I have been honored to teach at some of the most prestigious conferences and festivals in my field and I know it was because I simply kept showing up and had the willingness to step it up when the opportunities finally arrived. Now I have the freedom to both travel and teach on the global stage, and I am blessed to have two studios here at home where my heart is with my local community.
Why did you get into yoga, health and well-being?
My mother took me to my first yoga class. I had been dealing with stress from the demands of working multiple jobs while going to school and was mentally maxed out. In addition, I was struggling physically with pain and a diagnosis of juvenile fibromyalgia. Yoga created a deep place of relief and allowed me to get off my medication. I dabbled on and off until I graduated from college. It wasn’t until just after September 11th, 2001,when my job in NYC was placed on hold, that I committed to a daily practice and shifted fully into the depths that yoga could offer me.
Do you sit on any boards?
Yes, I serve on the Acroyoga Educational Committee.
In what ways have you learned to become adaptable and flexible in building your business?
Business to me is like creating great music. You have to learn the notes and practice your scales. Sometimes a crowd might like your tune and other times you may have to win them over with your string that got off key. The best musicians can not only read the music of others and use the techniques that work, but they learn to improvise and ride the groove with the other musicians they are jamming with.
Business in no different. Clients, employees and contractors might love music but often want to play at different beats or like extremely different styles. The key I find in business is to become a good conductor and to keep learning more about each one’s gifts and talents so that we can play together or know when we need to listen and give someone a solo.
The highest aim is where everyone is moved by the music, and for me this means keeping my eye on the vibe of the community and working towards a harmonic balance between when we turn up the volume and when we allow the space between the notes to create the ultimate success for everyone.
It is the hardest part for any business to balance out the needs of all individuals involved in making a business rewarding. I work to listen more and try to do my best to evolve my approach and practices to the tune of what I hear.
What is your advice to women seeking to rise in their profession?
Keep a beginner’s mind so you are always open to ideas and opportunities as they flow towards you; this also keeps you humble. Success doesn’t come easy and it is not something you can force. Set your goals and be steadfast and consistent in your efforts. Most of all be willing to let go of the things that are not working for you.
How would you define “success”?
I define success by mutual reward. There has to be something in it for everyone. It is not always an easy equation to balance the needs and desires of the business, employees/contractors and clients and my own personal wants and needs, but each decision I make tries to keep all parts of the equation in a space of equilibrium. This requires often a step back to reflect and gain clarity. I love asking myself questions from all sides to see if I can find the win, win, win.
What are your strengths?
I have an ability to see the big picture while still maintaining an eye on the details. Part of that insight into the big picture is the ability to see clearly the talent in my teaching team and to continuously finding ways to highlight their strengths and passions. I truly love to find people’s hidden talents and help them bring those gifts to the surface. I can handle many things by choosing carefully what I invest my time in so that I can actually mono-task and give the best of myself to each project, rather than spreading myself too thin.
How do you develop yourself and continue to improve?
I will always be the student first and foremost. The exciting part about my career is that it involves a bit of everything from history, philosophy and lifestyle to academics of anatomy and physiology combined with a physical practice. It all gets topped off with business and career development.
I spend a significant portion of my time on personal study and development in the form of personal practice, podcasts, books, videos, workshops, conferences and training. I feel when I am continuously immersed in learning and cultivating skills in a variety of areas I can show up with fresh ideas and expand not only my own body and mind, but motivate, inspire and create at my edge with my colleagues.
What are your “words to live by”?
My mantra has always been “Clarity, Integrity and Love!” For me there has never been anything more important than honesty. I think when we are honest and have clear boundaries we can show up fully and carry more compassion.