How long have you been a part of the Yoga Bhoga family and how did that relationship begin for you?
I have been a part of the Yoga Bhoga since 2012 (or 2013?). I met Shannon Kleuver when she was teaching at Reed College, and she got me interested in yoga. I had only ever practiced as a way to maintain my fading gymnastics skills, but she illuminated the spiritual benefits of yoga for me. At the time, she was also teaching at Yoga Bhoga, so that summer break I started going to her classes at the studio, then starting exploring other teachers’ classes—I entered a pretty big Scott align-and-refine do-the-crazy-arm-balance phase at that point, followed by a Meghan hold-warrior-one-for-10-breaths phase…and so it began!
What is your most memorable moment of Yoga Bhoga teacher training or teaching experience?
The most memorable teacher training moment for me was the Breitenbush retreat. Spending multiple days immersed in yoga, meditation, philosophy, community, (and of course soaking in beautiful hot springs) integrated the program for me in such an important way, and I’ll cherish those memories forever. I learned so much on that retreat.
My most memorable teaching experience was when I was talking to one of my students about moving away, and she teared up, saying that she has had a difficult time finding teachers that cultivate an environment that is cozy and non-judgmental, and that she found that in my teaching, and in Yoga Bhoga as a studio. It made me proud of my teaching, and proud of our teaching community, to hear that she felt safe and supported in her practice here.
What is your funniest memory of either Meghan or Scott as teacher trainers?
Hmmm, without going into any details, our last day of training after-party at the Slammer got pretty funny. Besides that, all the yoga puns. Those two are full of yoga puns.
This August you will be leaving Portland to pursue your Maters at Harvard, Yoga Bhoga is so sad to see you leave but thrilled to see you pursue you academic dream. What will you miss most about Portland? or Yoga Bhoga? What are you most excited for in Boston?
I’ll be pursuing a Master’s degree in public health, with an emphasis on social epidemiology. I’ll miss my friends, family, and partner most. I’ll miss all the delicious, accessible food, and the fact that I’m always within biking distance of a bar or restaurant with a bangin’ natural wine list (I’m sure my wallet will thank me for moving away). I’ll miss being at home at Yoga Bhoga—I think we all know how hard it is to find a new studio that feels like home. I’ve gotten so used to Yoga Bhoga’s emphasis on yoga philosophy, community, and the attitude that we are all continually learning together. I hope I can find a community as welcoming in Boston!
In Boston, I’m most excited for the amount of opportunities I’ll have—for instance, my academic adviser literally wrote the book on social epidemiology. I’ll be learning from people who are incredibly smart, incredibly well connected, and I hope that grows into a career in public health where I can make meaningful change.
Do you think Yoga has influenced you career and educational path? If so how? What is the culture of your work? Does being a ‘yogi” help you navigate those differences?
Ohhhh yes. 100% yes. Yoga helped me ask myself the hard questions, like what do you actually want to do with your life? What are your values? These were Big Scary Questions that I managed to push aside for a really, really long time. Yoga has been a process of opening up to myself with honesty, and a process of being patient with myself and learning that everything is always in flux. Without yoga, I am fairly certain I’d still be working jobs that I was unsatisfied with without knowing why, spending my energy on people that didn’t share my values, and berating myself for not making the changes I knew were necessary. Seriously, thank god(dess) for yoga. It has been the single most important tool for self-discovery in my life.
To answer the second question, I’ll just say, perhaps vaguely, that yoga has given me courage to name and stick to my values. I was on the path to a career in bench science (pharmaceutical chemistry), and yoga helped me understand that while bench science was great for my curious mind, my number one goal is raising collective consciousness for a more equitable world. By naming that, I gathered the courage to quit my job, change my future plans, and start on a path toward a career and community more in line with what’s important to me.
Also, side note, yoga has taught me patience. I’ve always gotten flack for being the least patient person in the world—trust me, I’m a lot easier to work with, learn with, and be friends with (or related to) now than I was before yoga became a regular part of my life.
Where do you see yourself after you graduate? Do you think Yoga will be with you throughout this next journey? Do you think you will continue teaching?
After I graduate, I imagine I’ll continue living on the east coast to pursue further education in epidemiology or working in public health research or policy (vague, I know, that’s why I applied for a master’s and not a PhD…). I can’t imagine myself staying away from teaching for long. Even though I might not have time to teach regularly in a studio, I hope to at least continue teaching on a volunteer basis.
For the last year, in addition to teaching at Yoga Bhoga, I’ve been teaching a monthly class at an inpatient recovery center in Vancouver through a nonprofit called Living Yoga. Living Yoga provides free yoga classes in prisons, recovery centers, and community centers in Portland and the surrounding area. Volunteering with them has been such a rewarding experience. Providing access to yoga with people who are especially alienated from their bodies due to addiction or trauma has reinforced what I know to be true—mindfulness will change the world!
Shameless plug—even if you’re not a certified yoga teacher, if you’re a regular yoga practitioner that wants to share the benefits of yoga and learn more about how yoga and mindfulness can help bodies and minds heal from trauma, look into volunteering with Living Yoga!! They are a fantastic organization and can be found at https://living-yoga.org/
Ok, Now for one word quick responses (some are super yoga so my apologies)
What chakra calls for your attention most? Manipura
What is your most considered or contemplated yama or niyama? Santosha
What is your primary ayurvedic dosha? Vata
Favorite moment of a yoga class (in one word!)? Savasana 😊
Best word for how the word the phrase “namaste" makes you feel? Sometimes, uncomfortable. Yoga in the West has been a process of cultural appropriation that has gone awry in so many ways. In the best situations, though, “namaste” or another expression of gratitude at the end of class makes me feel welcomed, acknowledged, and seen.
What word would you use to describe your experience in headstand? Serene
What is the bst word to describe your teaching personality? Approachable (when I asked my friend and regular student to answer this, he said “punk”)
What is the best word to describe your entire yogic journey? Homecoming
What is the best word to describe what yoga bhoga means to you? Yoga family!