What’s your movement history?
I’ve been a dancer my whole life. I started when I was three and was hooked. When I started getting more serious about dance in high school and college, I decided it was time to really understand how the body works. I took anatomy, physiology and kinesiology classes and found it impacted my movement practices immensely. Over the years, I began practicing yoga and pilates as a supplement to dance. But, though I felt it was important, I didn’t like yoga that much for most of my life.
What brought you to ANYA?
When I graduated from college, I wanted to continue my movement practice but classes were expensive. So, I got involved with the ANYA work study program and started taking classes here. The ANYA method really resonated with me and I began to realize that I could learn to love yoga – I just needed the right approach.
What about ANYA Yoga do you like?
I appreciate the attention to detail, the directness and the focus on getting into and out of shapes safely. Everything is rooted in the body so there is never a time where you feel unprepared or unsafe. There is a strong emphasis throughout all ANYA classes on proper engagement of the abdominals that, while important, is lacking from so many other practices.
I also REALLY like how everything in the method is applicable not just on the mat, but off as well. It is comprised of techniques you can take with you anywhere – to other classes, work, home, etc. I can be sitting on the subway lengthening my side body or grounding my feet while walking around the city. It’s a method I can always come back to.
What do you like most about teaching Rest Yoga?
I like holding space for people to relax. It was hard for me to do at first. But now I really enjoy taking those moments in silence and allowing for everything to sink in for everyone. It’s gratifying to see a someone who came in antsy finally drop in and release into the shapes. It’s inspiring when people come back week to week because they value rest as an important part of their overall balance and well-being.
I also find that when someone learns how to consciously release their muscles they also gain knowledge around how to contract them. If you know one end you can more easily access the other. Understanding how to turn muscles on and off makes you more efficient, and eventually stronger.
Plus, the more someone understands the ins and outs of their body the less they will experience pain. No one is perfect – we all need to find a balance between doing and resting. You can’t constantly be going – you will burn out. Sure, strength helps to maintain proper alignment and sustain what you do. But the body also needs time to rest and care for itself to function optimally.
Which ANYA techniques are most essential for you?
It’s ever evolving. I used to focus heavily on inner smile and expanding the brow. But lately, I’ve been focusing on grounding the feet. I actually love noticing my trends. How grounding the feet affects my leg lines and sets a foundation for my whole body. I have found that grounding the feet, in conjunction with lengthening the side body, even helps to organize the shoulders.
I also focus a lot on back breathing, especially while I’m teaching. I try to be as grounded as I can be. As a Rest teacher it’s important for me to know how to activate the meditative state and create calm in my body to set a tone of rest for the whole space.
What moves you about teaching ANYA?
I like to help people move efficiently by understanding their bodies better. The body is complex but it doesn’t have to be overly complicated. And the beauty of it is, the positive concepts you learn in your body translate seamlessly into your life over time. Once your body is better aligned and you are better attuned with your body, other parts of your life – like your career and relationships – will improve as well. But, in the moment, there’s no pressure for that to happen. It just does. So in that spirit, allow playfulness, experimentation and insights to come naturally.