The Whole Story
Feb 15, 2020 – Where It All Began…
If you asked me as a kid what I’d be when I grew up, I would have told you a rock star. I idolized Gwen Stefani, and I dreamed of being the front woman of an otherwise all male rock band. Yoga teacher was not on my list of possibilities, but looking back now, it makes sense that my love for movement led me down this path.
Growing up as a competitive dancer, I spent all my spare time at the studio. I wasn’t very athletic otherwise – team sports just weren’t my thing – and I loved getting up on stage and expressing myself through movement. I learned how to feel the music and flow at an early age, and to this day I believe there’s nothing like a good hip hop dance class to get you out of a funk!
Fast forward through my college years, and in my early 20s I eventually found myself at a studio in Boston taking my first yoga class. I wasn’t into it. I didn’t know any of the poses, the pace was too slow, and I felt like a fish out of water. I did notice, however, that while I was inside that room for 60 minutes, I possessed a wizard-like ability to not think about anything. I had no idea how to meditate, and random thoughts would flit by, but I just felt so present and relaxed. I’d learn later that I was meditating all along! I kept going back to that class, and yoga would come in and out of my life for the next few years.
In 2015 I was living in San Francisco, working at a start up and just trying to figure out life, like so many in their late 20s. In between my dreaded treadmill sessions at Fitness SF, I finally peeked my head into the yoga room and was surprised to see how tranquil the space was despite the bass bumping out in the weight room. I went to a class one morning before work, and before I knew it I was in there practicing 2-3 times a week.
One of my best friends was planning a trip to India to complete her yoga teacher training the following March. A few other friends and I decided it would be a fun adventure to meet her out there once her training ended, so we hopped on a plane and flew to Delhi. Little did I know that this would be the trip that changed the course of my life. Surprisingly enough, I didn’t do a single yoga class while I was there aside from a few poses with my newly graduated yogi friend. I just napped in hammocks, ate lots of amazing fresh fish and explored the amazing community of Kerala. I felt a renewed sense of purpose and community. The locals were some of the happiest, most generous people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. They just had immense gratitude and a zest for life, even when some had so little. The day I returned to the states, I purged my closet of everything I didn’t need, signed up for several volunteer opportunities and dove deeper down the yoga rabbit hole.
In the spring of 2017, a friend taught a few free classes at my office as part of her 200 hour teacher training. I loved her teaching style, and she suggested I check out one of her teacher’s public classes. I will forever be captivated by Dana Damara, and I have been since the first time I stepped into her class. That’s all it took – one class, and the next time I went back to that studio it was for her yoga teacher training info session. I didn’t even want to be a teacher. I just knew that I needed Dana’s energy in my life. That September, my journey to becoming a teacher began, and within a month I was teaching donation based classes to raise money for local causes. To my surprise, I loved teaching, and I felt like I had a knack for it! The program blew my expectations out of the water, and I will always be grateful for that free class on the cold garage floor of my office that led me to Dana!
I graduated from my program in December, and within days my boyfriend and I packed our entire lives into my Mini Cooper (yes, it was as challenging as it sounds). We headed East to put down roots in Boston, and I was so excited to share my new West Coast yoga skills with the community. Welp, that’s not exactly what happened. I didn’t know anyone, I had to find an apartment and I was in the middle of a huge project for work. Weeks turned to months, and I still didn’t have a home studio. I debated taking a 300 hour teacher training program, but I didn’t even know where to start. I wasn’t teaching and I was rarely even practicing. I decided to enroll in Yoga Reaches Out, a yearly yogathon that raises money for Boston Children’s Hospital. As one of the presenters took the stage, the theme from the Golden Girls started playing, and an unmistakable Boston accent came over the mic. I got the same feeling I felt a year earlier the first time I met Dana, and I immediately knew that I had to find some way to work with Jacqui Bonwell. Her nickname is the Spiritual Mother of New England, and I so admire the way she can deliver a powerful, soul-stirring class while being so authentically herself. This woman was going to be my east coast yoga savior!
And she has been! I have spent the past year working with Jacqui, and I will graduate from her 300 hour training program in May of 2020. My foundational skills and style may have started with Dana, but I needed Jacqui (and my fellow YTT 300 students) to help me find my courage. I started volunteering my time teaching with Hands to Heart Center in April of 2019, and in the fall I started offering private lessons to small groups. At the beginning of 2020, I decided to resign from my full time job and focus on growing my own business within the yoga community. The second I resigned, the pieces just started to fall into place, and I felt validated in my decision to take the leap. I felt like the universe was saying, “It’s about time!” Though this grand adventure has only just begun, there’s a lot in the works for the upcoming year!