Tell us a bit about yourself – I live in Waltham, Ma (right outside Boston) and I have lived here for 5 years. Before living here, I lived in Philadelphia. I live with my 11-year-old son, my partner, and his 10-year-old son. I am a High School Special Education/English Teacher. Before I was a Special Education Teacher I was an ESL teacher, but I became a SPED teacher because I wanted to be a better mom to my son who has several different neurological conditions combined with hearing loss that impact his educational experience.
What is a little known or surprising fact about you or your work? I am a classically trained opera singer. I don’t yell at students at work, I hit high notes to get their attention. I’m also a twin.
What led you to Iyengar yoga? How did you find IYCWM? Like many people, I found yoga to help me heal from back surgery. I have had 9 back operations of varying severity and I was tired of being in pain. I was drawn to Iyengar Yoga because it reminded me of studying opera; it’s a similar attention to detail and awareness of body. I found IYCWM because Susan Elena had been teaching in Boston I would take her classes. My parents retired to Northampton and I hope to get to the studio in person as soon as it’s safe to do so.
How long have you been practicing yoga? Roughly 20 years
What keeps you on the mat? My body is never as pain-free as when I am in consistant practice. But I feel mentally healthier when I am on the mat. I can do things I never dreamed I would be able to do, and that makes me feel like I can accomplish anything.
What keeps you off the mat? Being a mom, work, and class times that don’t work for my schedule.
What poses do you love? Standing poses, and inversions.
What poses do you find challenging? Backbends are very challenging due to my spine. But I see the progress and that’s what makes me want to keep at it.
What do you like to do when you are not doing yoga? I love to read, spend time with my family, hike, and laugh.
How has practicing yoga impacted your life? It has given me the ability to listen to my body, be ok with my limitations, and celebrate my successes. I am now able to slow down and be in the moment much better than I used to.
How does yoga show up in your everyday life? I have the ability to handle multiple steps/directions at once. I have worked with my brain to train it to be able to focus on multiple layers at the same time and be mindful and present, and that has made me a better teacher, mother, and partner. I am also more productive and efficient at work. Also, working with high school age youth, I am able to speak to our principals and philosophies to them and see them flourish as a result.
How has the pandemic changed your daily life? How are you dealing with the COVID-19 crisis? Does your yoga practice help you in any way?
The pandemic has overhauled my life. I am learning how to teach differently, support my special needs child in a whole new way, and have the whole family at home. In some ways, I have never been happier (I love seeing my family so much), and in other ways, I’ve never been more anxious. (I’m working so much harder than ever before.) I am practicing every day, sometimes twice a day, and that is helping me tremendously. It helps me mentally and physically and gives me time to myself. I have reconnected with yoga during this pandemic in an intense way and I will forever be grateful for this time for that. In many ways, Zoom yoga has been a gift.
What has it been like to become part of a virtual yoga community when you have never been to the physical space and do not know any o the other students?
At first, it was intimidating. Everyone seemed to know each other, and it’s
very hard to get to know one another in this format. But after 26 + weeks of practicing with the same faces, we have gotten vulnerable with each other (we know what our houses look like) and what our fears in our practice are, and have celebrated accomplishments. But, in other ways joining a new community in a virtual format is easier. For example, I’m horrible with names and Zoom eliminates that problem!
How does this yoga community contribute to your practice? This community motivates me to keep working hard and sign on to class every day. Everyone is so open and humble and lovely and all working where they need to be working for their body and it’s so inspiring.
How has the switch to online classes during the pandemic affected your sense of community? How does it help stay connected? How does it fall short? I think it’s really heightened my sense of community. I have been able to take classes with my former studio in Philadelphia and reconnect with my old yoga buddies there and join my weekly classes. I have been welcomed so warmly into your studio 2 hours away, and I still have my classes I take virtually in the Boston area. Now, I see that yoga is truly global, not just local. It’s not perfect, obviously, sometimes I really miss those lovely adjustments that can only happen in person, but overall, I think it’s been an overwhelmingly positive experience.
Any advice for those seeking to connect to a virtual yoga community? Take a chance and take a different class and keep going back. Ask questions, use the chat to connect privately to other people in classes (the dogs are all so cute!) and enjoy this unique experience.