My Yoga Story

1990.  photo: almost certainly my mom


photo: almost certainly my mom

Every body has a story. Here is mine. 

I love yoga. But my first love is dance. I began ballet class when I was five years old, and dance has been a driving passion ever since. I loved the music, discipline and community, even if I was never the most talented in class. When I was 16, I made the tough decision to quit my studio to focus on preparing for college. But beyond (extremely) lackluster participation in gym class, I didn't have much exposure to any other physical fitness.

Enter yoga. My mom suggested I try a class her gym and I was immediately hooked. It's a little embarrassing to admit this now, but I don't even know what kind of yoga it was. If you're reading this and you're a yoga teacher in Central New Jersey named Cheryl who worked at a Bally's Fitness on Route 22 in the early aughts, get in touch. I even did my final project in Honors Physics on the science of yoga. (I got a B.) 

Then I went to Northwestern and back to the dance studio. I loved dance classes at my college, and became deeply immersed in the open class community in New York while on breaks. After college, I leaned in to the dance world. Yoga was a fading memory.

Then I got injured. It started slowly, tendinitis at the top of my hamstring. I started foam rolling. I tried ice, then heat. I got a cortisone injection and went to physical therapy. Then the pain spread to bursitis in my hips. I got another cortisone injection and a new physical therapist. 

photo: Johnny Galvan

photo: Johnny Galvan

I stopped jumping in dance class and got more cortisone injections. (I had a total of 11.) I cried. A lot. I tried Pilates. I tried to go back to yoga, but the strict alignment and holding of traditional Vinyasa left me sobbing in savasana. 

Then I found Strala. Founded by fellow dancer Tara Stiles, the concept of allowing my body to move in whatever way felt good was a revelation. On days I could barely walk, I could practice Strala, and I began to build strength and discover a new way of living, moving and being. I found a better physical therapist and I practiced Strala religiously. 

I finished graduate school and went on a trip for my birthday. Laying on a towel with my feet in the sand, I felt called to begin my Strala training. I completed my 200 hour "Ready to Lead" training in late 2014. I began teaching public classes and volunteering and never looked back.

Guiding Strala yoga is the privilege of my life. I love working with all types of bodies and minds, and freeing people to explore the natural power and strength they can discover when they match their body to their breathe. I live for those precious moments right after class when everyone wants to sit on their mat forever. 

I still have flareups of my hamstring and hip issues. My body has a lived experience that shows up every time I'm on my mat. But my Strala yoga practice, combined with some carefully-selected ideas from Vinyasa and Ashtanga yoga, informs every movement I make. 

Every body has a story. My calling is to help people deepen theirs.