"Be the change you wish to see in the world....."
First and foremost, I would not be here were it not for Guruji B.K.S. Iyengar and my dear teachers Manouso Manos and Victoria Austin. I prostrate to you in humble thanks as well as to the teacher of teachers, Patanjali. AUM, Shanti, Shanti, Shantih
Sadhana is a sanskrit word that means a deeply devoted and focused practice with a singular goal. Geeta Iyengar describes Sadhana as an instrument or a prop that helps us to aim at our goal. If our goal is yoga, Self-realization, we use the props of our body and mind to reach our soul.
My yoga practice began with a striking moment after journeying to Tokyo, Japan after college. Alone in a foreign country in an empty room I asked myself for the first time, "Who am I really?" and "Why am I here?" This moment lead to a series of transformational changes including giving up a bulimic lifestyle and starting to nourish myself with food.
From there, I taught kindergarten at an International school in Japan. I got a Masters Degree in International Agricultural Development at U.C. Davis. I worked on a sustainable farm and learned to drive a tractor. I was a political organizer for affordable health care across the country. And, I worked as a communications consultant for the public health department in the East Bay supporting school-based teen clinics which offer medical and psychological services. Tired of living on nothing in the San Francisco Bay Area, I joined the (first) dot.com boom and somehow ended up a in marketing for a large financial services firm.
I have two professional themes throughout my life: teaching and marketing. They are not really no dissimilar. They both involve human psychology. How do I "sell" a certain person on a certain behavior. As long as I feel that what I am selling has integrity, I enjoy doing marketing work. the financial services company I worked for had integrity (they made it through all the financial crises in the past years unscathed by scandal) and the products I was selling were ones that helped people to save for retirement, buy a house or put their kids through college. The job was intellectually stimulating for several years and I enjoyed the people I worked with. For the most part, they were smart and kind. But, one day I realized that I didn't want any of the things that I was selling. Why was I sitting in an office with artificial light and recirculated air for 8-10 hours a day, 5 days a week doing a job that was satisfactory but not altogether satisfying so that I could retire at some point in the future and do what makes me happy? Why not choose to do what fulfills me now and have no need to "retire"?
This realization came on the heels of starting a Hatha yoga practice at a studio in my neighborhood at the time (Monkey Yoga Shala). 14 years ago, walking through my neighborhood in Oakland I looked up at the yoga studio that I had passed numerous times before and decided to go in. My first class, I was hooked. I started going once a week, then twice a week, then I quit going to the gym and just went to yoga. I started yoga out of curiosity, out of a desire to try something different. What I found changed my life. Not in the mind-blowing way that we perhaps look for but by weaving itself into every facet of my life. I practice yoga so I can practice life more consciously.
It did not happen over night but over years. I continued to work in corporate marketing but enrolled in the Advanced Studies/Teacher Training program at the Iyengar Yoga Institute of San Francisco. I woke up at 5:30am to do my yoga/meditation practice, worked 9-5 and then went to class three nights a week from 6-9pm. I did not resent this schedule. In fact I thrived. This is when my Yoga Sadhana truly began. Everything in my life began to be about yoga, aimed at yoga, for yoga. It changed my relationship to my body. My body became a strong, beautiful friend that I could rely on, not punish. My relationships changed as I became more patient and content with myself. But, it transformed me so much that I knew I could not continue on in my corporate job. I decided to leave in six months, giving myself time to save money and get my annual bonus. I spent that six months making my supportive boss look good and taking care of the people that I managed. When I announced I was leaving the company to focus more on yoga I was greeted with enthusiasm, support and love from everyone I worked with. From those I knew well to higher-ups that I had only seen across the table in meetings. It was clear I was on the right path.
I took the leap into becoming a full-time yoga teacher and became a Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher in 2011 (I am now Certified at Int. Jr. II which allows me to mentor student teachers). I continue to do marketing consulting for select organizations and people because it is a skill that I enjoy sharing. I continue my yoga studies with my teachers, Manouso Manos and Victoria Austin. I have had the honor of studying at the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI) in Pune, India three times 2010, 2012, 2014. In 2010 and 2012 I was blessed to have the experience of being in a class with B.K.S. Iyengar himself as he trained his granddaughter Abhijata. I am saddened by his passing in August of 2014 but excited about the legacy of yoga he left for the future. I feel the immense responsibility for passing on this boon to humanity and welcome the challenge!
Nutrition has been part of my life since my early 20s when I healed myself after many years of eating disorders (exercise anorexia and bulimia). I found the most successful way to heal was to eat food that made me feel healthy and good after I ate it. In other words, food that hadn't been processed and refined first. Working in a stressful corporate environment, however, my healthy food choices started to dwindle and it was back to being jacked up on coffee every morning and eating gummi bears and chocolate in the afternoon. 75% of my diet was still pretty healthy but it was not enough to combat the stress I was under. Luckily for me, my body rebelled and sent out an early warning signal: irritable bowel syndrome.
For a good year, I suffered every day with a squeezing pain in my gut and bouts of alternating diarreah and constipation. I cut out coffee, wheat, and dairy completely and started eating more whole grains. That helped, but I still had symptoms from time to time. I went to my doctor, who was fairly holistic, and she gave the the checklist: cut out coffee (check), wheat and dairy (check), eat more fiber (check), regular exercise (check), daily meditation or yoga (check). The only other option was drugs and I wasn't willing to go there. A month after I quit my high-paying job the symptoms went away and have never come back. Yes, good nutrition and good habits like yoga and meditation can help you to find balance and to make space for health but ultimately we also need to address the underlying causes of suffering in our life in order to truly be free. To further my education and obtain certification I enrolled in Bauman College school of Holistic Nutrition. Since then, I lead bi-annual Detox Groups and help individuals through nutrition coaching.
I am so blessed to serve others on this journey. And it continues....