A mover and a shaker from a young age, I grew up to be the typical athlete, strong, tall and what I thought was fast. Even though I secretly wanted to be a dancer, the doors to the world of competitive sports was wide open from the start and I excelled at everything that I put my mind to. Graceful movement was not a strength, nor did I ever think that I could learn to move my body in such a way.
I fell in love with yoga in 2001 when a friend took me to a Bikram studio in Berkeley, CA. I was hooked from the first class. Endurance, strength and sheer determination was something that I could tap into in that 105 degree heated room. Being a collegiate athlete I understood how to grit my teeth and bear down. A typical Type A personality, Bikram quickly became an obsession and I had my heart set on becoming an instructor. So I participated in my first “30 Day Challenge” at the studio. 30 yoga classes in 30 days seemed completely doable. I decided to do a few “doubles” as I was anticipating needing a day off in the coming weeks. 25 classes and 27 days into the challenge I had extreme knee pain and I was forced to take time off. Devastated by this loud cry from my body, I swung back on the opposite end of the pendulum, refusing to even attend a class. If I couldn’t do every posture 100% than it wasn’t worth going. Perfection was a must.
I left the Bikram world when I moved to Chicago in 2005 and started to explore other styles of yoga. Dabbling in Sivananda, Anusara, Ashtanga and other types of hot power yoga I found myself in love with all the various nuances of the different practices and wanting to go further and further into mind-body connection. I knew that I wanted to teach but being a nomad I was never in a place long enough to establish a relationship or foundation with any one type of yoga or studio.
In 2011 I made a very big decision in my career which did not pan out the way that I had expected. I was left with a broken heart and a ton of time. Living in Arizona with my mother I was determined that I was going to go through a teacher training. But where? I was highly interested in Anusara but that was just about the time that there was quite a bit of controversy surrounding John Friend and I was not anticipating staying in Arizona long enough to go through the extremely rigorous and time consuming process of being certified.
So I waited..and researched…and waited. Towards the end of the year in 2011 I realized that I had 10 entire days off from my regular job that upcoming January and there was a teacher in Venice, CA who had her first 10 day (100 hr) immersion exactly during that time. It was fate. I knew nothing about Shiva Rea or Prana Flow and so I started looking into her background and what she offered. I had zero idea what I was getting myself into.
Prana Flow is an energetic, creative, full-spectrum approach to embodying the flow of yoga cultivated by Shiva Rea and the Global Vinyasa Collective of Teachers. Students of all levels are empowered to experience prana – the universal source of breath, life-energy and conscious intelligence – as the navigating source of yoga practice and vital living. Practitioners learn classical and innovative approaches to vinyasa yoga and the state of flow drawn from Krishnamacharya’s teachings, Tantra, Ayurveda, Bhakti, Somatics and Shiva’s teaching experience from the last fifteen years.
The most gorgeous thing that I discovered about myself while taking Shiva’s teacher training was that I am (as we all are) pure energy that moves with my breath like a wave. I am not a 5’10” stiff basketball player that cannot touch her toes. It wasn’t about that. Sure, we all strive to go deeper into asanas and feel our body moving and changing, but where I always felt like I didn’t have the right body in Ashtanga, or the bendy back for Anusara, I had all that I needed for Prana Flow…breath.
I continued with Shiva to complete my 200TT and am working toward my 500TT. I have also felt liberated to study under other teachers to see what nuggets they can share and how this living yoga sadhana is a culmination of personal truths and one very epic journey.
And so that journey continues. I have gotten into the river and there are times where I thrash around, kicking and screaming and grasping for anything that will help pull me out. But I know that if I take a breath and continue to put my feet up and ride the wave, it can be amazing.
Take this life and live <3