The Popular Yoga Teacher with the "Perfect Body" to the Health At Every Size Yoga/Movement Educator
Updated: Mar 22, 2021
Yoga and I met at the perfect time. I had decided that I wanted to get help for my Eating Disorder but unfortunately, I was put on a waiting list that ended up being 2 years.
See, part of my illness consisted of an obsession to exercise and at that time because of the hours I spent at the gym as well as excessive daily running, I physically couldn’t walk anymore, let alone continue my regime. I had literally exercised to the point where I tore my hip flexor apart and I ended up walking with a limp for well over a year and had to drive my car with my left foot.
At this point of time I really wanted help. I really wanted to get better. Little did I know at that moment my road to recovery would consist of the next 10 years of my life. I decided I would take my first hot yoga class at one of the first yoga studios to ever exist in my community.
What can I say, after that first class I was hooked! The two-hour class I took was one of the hardest and hottest workouts I had ever experienced. Let me make it clear that my entry into yoga was anything but relaxing and/or restorative. It was vigorous, intense and very athletic. Going from running 12-14 km a day plus 3 hours at the gym, this made sense for me at the time.
It wasn’t long after that, that I decided I wanted to be a yoga Teacher. I fell in love with being on my mat and connecting to my body in a different way then what I was used to. I fell in love with being apart of a community and family of yogis that I could move and bond with.
I started teaching yoga in December 2009 (before I was even done my teacher training). I was a very dedicated practioner and teacher. I lived and breathed Asana practice; 2-3 hours a day, teaching 14-17 hard classes a week (doing the class while teaching) and in between that, a staple presence at my studio.
I was well known for my challenging classes, my stunning looking practice, and my “perfect body.” I remember people used to come up to me and ask if they could see my 6-pack abs and follow that up with the question, “if I come to your classes will I have a body like yours?” These comments continued to add fuel to the fire. Just like the gym and running, yoga became another obsessive way to exercise in order to achieve “thinness.”
The good news is as time went on yoga became less about that. I began looking forward to the savasana at the end. I was becoming interested in meditation, and the duration and intensity of my practice lessened.
However, in my 10th year of practicing repetitive vinyasa yoga (4 years ago) I got injured. An injury that would change how I defined yoga, heal my relationship to my body and over exercise, and help mold me into the person and educator I am today.
I remember when I got injured, I started teaching yoga full time. I could barely go onto all fours without my ribs pooping out of all over the place, let alone teach full time. I had advanced students at the front of my class demoing for me as I verbally cued. I couldn’t believe that the practice I dedicated (6-7 days a week with zero cross training) my life to and depended my sanity on, had injured me.
I needed answers. I needed to know why? What went wrong? I was crushed! That was the start of my continuing movement education and negative body image healing journey. I started asking physiotherapists and chiropractors about my injury. I started going outside of yoga and exploring other modalities of movement such as Strength and Conditioning with weights and resistance bands, functional movement, DNS/Developmental Movement (Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization), FRC (Functional Range Conditioning), Axis Syllabus, Animal Flow and locomotive movement, and much more! I began to realize that my traditional Asana practice I loved so much couldn’t physically give me everything I needed. I started to tap into other aspects of yoga like Mindfulness Mediation for Stress and Pain Relief and listening to my body and applying that to a new way of teaching that felt like yoga but was inspired by different modalities of movement, creating a well-rounded practice for the body and the mind.
Although this was an exciting time of learning about body science, I was grieving. I was grieving the loss of my “perfect body.” I was grieving the loss of my jam- packed classes. I was grieving the loss of endless praise and admiration. I was grieving the loss of an identity. I didn’t know who I was anymore and what my purpose was.
Yoga is still part of my life and continues to weave itself it in my movement practice. I believe that any mindful movement is considered yoga regardless of what the shape looks like. Yoga is a state of mind. I also now believe that its not about taking away traditional yoga or any form of movement that you love. It’s about adding in other things so that you can continue to do the physical activities that bring you joy in life.
I no longer move to punish my body. I move to FEEL GOOD; strong, mobile, healthy, flexible, pain-free, confident, capable, functional, energized, etc. I want people to the same. I believe that not only is variability in movement necessary for the mind and the body, but when it comes to positive body image, the more options we have to move, the less boredom we experience and the less obligation we have to feel like we need to go hard all the time in order to make it count. We can approach movement intuitively, asking our bodies what it needs at any given moment and responding accordingly.
Currently I educate people on Positive Body Image, Body Acceptance, Health At Every Size, and I continue to teach yoga and diverse movement to help people find appreciation and acceptance for the body they are in right now.
I’ve created a FREE Body Image Guide and an Online Studio filled with diverse yoga and movement classes for only $10/month unlimited, making movement affordable and accessible for everyone and EveryBODY.
It is my hope that you fall in love with yourself and that you find bodily acceptance using various tools and techniques, as well as the beautiful gift of movement no matter what size you are or how much you weigh.
Although this journey and experience has been hard and there are still times I want to say “fuck it,” and throw in the towel, I wouldn’t change a damn thing. I will forever be grateful for yoga and when it came into my life. Yoga got me on the path to recovery from my eating disorder and my addiction to over exercise. I have never felt healthier in my body and in my mind then I do right now. I will continue to educate, and share my knowledge and lived experience with you so that we can continue to work towards true health and well-being. I look forward to connecting you.
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