Who am I?
I live with my family in Salt Lake City where we have incredible access to nature. We play outside every chance we get, with many weekends spent camping, climbing, skiing, stargazing, hiking, building campfires, and generally enjoying screen-free time together off the grid. Growing up in Chicago, I know first hand what a busy city with limited access to wide open spaces can do to your nervous system. Simply put, when I give myself a regular break from my computer and my phone and let the sounds, smells, images and textures of nature nourish me, I feel better; I am happier, more content and more appreciative of my life and the people around me. Of course, I can’t always get outside. That’s where yoga, meditation and other mindfulness practices come in. Similar to being in nature, they help bring me into the present moment where I can pay attention to what is happening in my mind and body and respond with care and compassion. These days, I am getting better and better at individualizing my mindfulness practices to support what is needed in the moment. Some days, that looks like meditation, a yoga class or a hike in the mountains and other days it is helping my daughter with her homework and giving her my undivided attention. Whatever is called for demands my presence and it is the action of learning to be present more and more of the time that is unquestionably having a positive influence on my life and my brain.
How did I get here?
I discovered yoga in my 20’s and immediately loved it. I didn’t understand it back then but now I can see that yoga helped my overactive mind slow down by giving me two places to simultaneously place my attention - my physical body and my breath. At the time, I didn’t know that these two actions elicit the “relaxation response” that Dr. Herbert Benson had coined many years earlier. All I knew was that yoga made me feel better physically, mentally and emotionally. I stuck with it and eventually became a yoga instructor. Around the same time I completed an MA in counseling and become more aware of the body’s role in the therapeutic process - or maybe more importantly, how often the body wasn’t engaged in the process at all. I started looking for a therapeutic bridge for the mind and body. I found Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy and jumped in head first. I received my certification in 2001. In addition to merging yoga and therapy, I trained with Animas Valley Institute, guiding personal transformation retreats in the Utah and Colorado wilderness. The Animas retreats combine depth psychology and contemporary nature-based practices to support a deeper understanding of our particular way of being in the world, or in yogic terms, our dharma.
The work that I do today flows out of my experience as a nature guide, yoga instructor, counselor and yoga therapist and merges nature-based practices, psychology, classical yoga, and neuroscience. It is rooted in the understanding that the mind, body and brain are one integrated system, each intimately affecting the whole. This confluence of yoga, psychology and neuroscience, is what most excites me. My studies and training have often felt either rooted in eastern philosophy or western science and now I find that in bridging the two, I have found a common language that is more holistic and supportive than either could be on their own.