to be awake, observe, heed, attend, learn, become aware of, and be conscious again.
My approach to yoga is centered around functional mobility and exploring different muscle activations within poses. I do not so much ascribe to achieving a shape for the sake of a shape - I am more concerned with whether you are activating the muscles that would eventually bring you into the shape, whether or not your body was meant to express the traditional form itself. I want you to own the shapes you put your body in with strength, and breath, and grace. I seek to empower you, strengthen you, and develop in you a deep sense of gratitude and compassion for your body.
I have a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering, and while I don't use that degree for work anymore, my engineering mind is always at work in my teaching of yoga. I love to deconstruct poses and figure out how to bring action into the body that encourages functional mobility and "strength at length" rather than just passive mobility. I was a rugby player in my younger years, and played for the USA in the 2002 World Cup, so my athlete's mind also influences my teaching. My philosophy is to try everything with a sense of curiosity and humor. Failure can be a great teacher, if we embrace it with humility and curiosity.
In September 2019, I had a bilateral hip replacement. Genetics handed me some dysfunctional hips, and I rode them to the very last mile. The pain had started years before I finally decided I needed surgery, but my mindset was one of "let's see if I can fix this with strength and mobility." So I started on a long journey of learning about anatomy, pain science (just in case it was a pain signal gone awry), functional mobility, and how to bring what I call "functional alignment" into my yoga asana. I was able to get the pain to go away for a long while, and then it came back. I tried adding load (lifting weights, adding resistance bands to yoga asana), and it went away again, but for a shorter time. I learned about the nervous system and different ways to stimulate the vestibular system, and those techniques helped too, for a time. When I got to summer of 2019, I could barely walk. I had to admit that I couldn't fix this on my own. When I finally got images taken, the doctors were taken aback..."HOW did you WALK in here? You should be in a wheelchair!" I heard the same opinion from at least four doctors. I chalk it up to having spent a TON of time eliminating every other single thing that could possibly be wrong, my hips were fully optimized in all other ways - and then the only thing left was to fix the bones themselves. I was walking with a walker within 4 hours after surgery, walking with no assistance by day 5, back to practicing yoga with my surgeon's blessing within four weeks. While these results are not typical, the knowledge I have gained along this journey serves to benefit YOU, my students. Practice with me to learn ways to strengthen AND mobilize the body at the same time, and maybe a brain hack or two.
Of all the things the universe could have become, it became YOU, exactly as you are. And your yoga practice should serve, stimulate, strengthen, and enliven YOU, exactly as you are. Namaste.