I grew up in steamy Jacksonville, Florida as a surfer. I started practicing Yoga in 2000 while at university and found that meditation was just as powerful as sitting in the sea waiting for waves, and required the same focus and balance in the mind. In 2004, I wanted to share my passion with others and completed my 200-hour teacher training with Discovery Yoga in St. Augustine, Florida. I relocated to London later that year and began teaching Yoga in studios, businesses, privately, in schools, and at UK and international retreats. I also work as a Primary school teacher and enjoy teaching them Yoga as well.
Why did you start Yoga?
I started practicing Ashtanga in 2000 when I first started university. I started studying religion and became very interested in meditation books. A friend told me that I must try Yoga, he didn’t say why, just that ‘I will see’. Man, was he on to something. I was missing the beach and was looking for something to fulfill the same meditation I found sitting on my board waiting for the waves to come. After my first class, I felt such a strong connection to the practice that I was hooked! And that was it really, I went one day and have never looked back. The more I practiced the more I realized how truly profound Yoga is with endless layers. I felt I was becoming more connected with myself and ultimately with others; a sense of calm in the great storm. Yoga not only created profound changes to my life but I also just truly enjoyed it. It can be serious, it can be fun, it can be humbling and so many more things.
What is your favourite pose and why?
That is pretty difficult to say as it changes day-to-day depending on what I need the most from my practice. I love twists as they ring out the toxins like a sponge. They provide great relief in the back and the neck. I am also very keen on arm balances, especially scorpion, because they are fun, challenging, and make me feel empowered. They also double as great party tricks! Some days it’s balances, such as vrkasana (tree) and bird of paradise that help me the most because they make you have to switch on and focus on the present and the breath. They are also great revealers, like a mirror, to what’s going on in the mind. So I suppose I do not have just one favourite. I love it all!
What other passions/hobbies do you have?
I live for travelling and emerging myself into other cultures. As I also work as a primary school teacher I try to travel as much as possible during the school holidays. One of my most memorable experiences was doing a volunteer project in Thailand with Burmese refugees. It was a very eye-opening and humbling experience. I have also had some really amazing road trips through Europe, South Africa, and the US.
I love music, music festivals, and art and try to take advantage of living in such an amazing city to see live music and exhibitions. I also really love being in nature, surfing, rock climbing, camping, and swimming in the wild; you name it I am there!
What are your favourite music tracks to practice to at the moment?
Personally I practice to wide range of music, anything that awakens the senses and gets the soul shaking, Jazz, Electronic, Kirtan and Classical. Jivamukti Yoga, for me, has nailed it on the head. They always rock out to brilliant soundtracks in class.
At the moment my top 5 in no particular order:
1) Angel – Massive Attack
2) Seven Devils – Florence + the Machine
3) Novio – Moby
4) Smells like Teen Spirit – Tori Amos covering Nirvana
5) Saraswati Mata – Daphne Tse (Great for Savasana)
What books would you recommend to help students understand more about Yoga?
I would recommend a variety of texts from classical to philosophical to ones with a more modern take on Yoga.
Top 5 again in no particular order
1) The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali- Translated by Sri Swami
2) The Mirror of Yoga- Richard Freeman
3) The Heart of Yoga TKV Desikachar
4) Jivamukti Yoga: Practices for Liberating Body & Soul Sharon Gannon
5) The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living -Dalai Lama