Yoga Influences

Back When

My first teacher was an instructional book whose title I cannot even remember, and which I read alongside The Sermon on the Mount According to Vedanta. My family upbringing included hefty doses of Christianity, and this early experience of exploring Hindu points of view on the basic tenets of Christianity gave me, thankfully, a wider perspective on religion and spirituality in general. If I had never picked up those books as a teenager, I'd be a different person today.

Immersion

In about 1998, I started training with Bobbi Ponce-Barger. After several years of intensive training with Bobbi, I eventually began to explore other instructors and their approaches, but her years of instruction are the basis of my personal practice and my teaching of that practice. At the foundation of her teaching is the principle of making yoga useful to individual people and to let the practice be a means of self-observation in the present moment.

Deepening My Understanding

The professional instruction at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health has been invaluable in enriching my experience of yoga and thereby allowing me to maintain a practice throughout all of the changes in my physical body over the past several years (including a shoulder separation, a cardiac arrhythmia, and an arthroscopic hip surgery and continuing recovery). Most of all, Kripalu Yoga encourages the individual to approach yoga as a path toward personal freedom that is the basis of yoga philosophy.

Also at Kripalu I have studied with Jonas Westring and Maggie Hopson, a physical therapist in Arizona. This training made me hyper aware of the need for yoga instructors to use language that is anatomically correct and purposeful when teaching asana to students. Learning the muscles, bones, and ligaments of the body while in massage therapy school has gone a long way to helping me help others understand the physiological aspects of yoga.

The Vinyasa School

Vinyasa-style yoga can bring calm to the mind and discipline to the person, and I recommend it to anyone who doesn't suffer from physical ailments. It's ultimately a deeply relaxing therapeutic form of yoga.

I trained mainly with Richard Freeman during my study of vinyasa yoga. My body doesn't tolerate those long, intense practices any more, but I incorporate many of the principles into my practice and teaching, seeking ways to sequence postures that can bring deeper meaning and value to the practice.

This type of yoga is taught and practiced in specific "sequences" of postures that link the breath with movement between postures, which creates a sense of flowing from one posture to the next. Theoretically, there are a gazillion possible asana sequences, although the root of this school of yoga in the modern day is said to have originated with Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, who trained both B.K.S. Iyengar and Pattabhi Jois, the founder of the Ashtanga Yoga system. There's a whole other sequenced style called Bikram Yoga that I've never tried because I don't think the heat would be good for my heart, but I do think it is a beneficial approach for many people with no history of heart disease or arrhythmia.