Article originally featured on  sea, field & tribe.

Article originally featured on sea, field & tribe.

When I first started practicing yoga it was purely for the physical benefits. I had just come off of a knee injury (a torn MCL due to the dangerous combination of high heels and my 21st birthday) and I was looking to get myself back into shape – I really missed surfing and riding a bicycle – and I was hoping to gain a little extra flexibility throughout my body as well. I was hesitant to begin because I had tried other yoga classes before. In high school I dabbled with the practice, but found most of the classes to be too slow or too boring or not challenging enough. I had kind of written yoga off completely – that is, until a girlfriend urged me to join her for a Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga class. And I can truly say that that one single class was life changing (thanks, Callie!).

My first Baptiste Power Vinyasa class was nothing like what I expected. It was the most physically challenging yoga practice I had ever experienced. I walked into the class with the expectation that it would be boring; I left soaked in my sweat and completely humbled.

But I kept coming back. I kept showing up on my mat time and time again. I was addicted to the practice and addicted to the feeling that I left my mat with. I learned to love the sweat, I learned to embrace the awkward poses, I learned to surrender into savasana… and I even found myself starting to enjoy the “Ohmmmmmmms.”

Flashback to high school. Growing up I had always struggled with self doubt – like to the extreme. I never felt good enough for anyone or anything. I was painfully shy and painfully afraid of being myself. My high school years were spent obsessing about my appearance. I was trying to create a “perfect world” on the outside while my inside world was still a tangled up mess. Throughout my teenage years I struggled with eating disorders and sunk deep into a state of depression and anxiety. Psychotherapy sessions had helped, a little. And the in-patient Women’s Treatment Center I was sent to after high school had helped some, too. But nothing, nothing, had given me hope like my new-found yoga practice. The fire had been lit.

My practice sparked a new passion for life – for movement, for breath, and for what my body was capable of doing. I’ll never forget pushing up into Wheel for the first time. I’ll never forget coming into my first Crow Pose. I’ll never forget the time that I actually held a Headstand – all by myself. Poses I thought I would never, ever be able to do in my lifetime were suddenly becoming a reality. It was empowering. The practice gave me this feeling that I could do anything that I put my mind to. I was getting stronger and more flexible, for sure, but I also noticed another shift beginning to happen. Something I had never really experienced before. And that was unconditional LOVE. For myself. Just the way I was.

I’m not kidding when I say yoga saved my life. Because I truly believe that it did. It brought me out of the darkness of self-hatred and into the light of self-compassion. And once I experienced the incredible mind-body healing benefits of a consistent yoga practice, I knew I had to share this practice with others. So I completed my 200-hour yoga teacher training right after I graduated from college and have been teaching yoga here in Rincon for the past 2 ½ years. But as they say, you will forever be a student, and as much as I love teaching I also love watching my personal practice continue to grow and evolve as I continue to grow and evolve. And what started out as a purely physical practice has now become more about uniting my body with my mind and soul… Finding connection to my core, to my truth, so that I can move authentically throughout my experiences… and maybe inspire others to do the same. Physicality gave way to spirituality and now, more than ever, I’m committed to living yoga… MY yoga. And I have that very first Baptiste Power Vinyasa Class to thank.