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The word yoga means “union” in Sanskrit, the language of ancient India where yoga originated. Yoga has been practiced for over 4000 years as a way to unite the mind, body, and spirit.

But 4000 years ago, they didn’t have power yoga classes at your local gym taught by a limber 25 year old to a packed class of 50 people.

Back then, yoga was taught one-on-one, wise old Yoga Master to devoted student. It was a way of life marked by philosophical studies, meditation, and daily asana practice (yoga postures) according to the student’s needs and abilities. Under the watchful eye of the Master, the student could progress gradually towards an enlightened state called “samadhi” where life was full of joy, equanimity and clear purpose.

Nowadays, we abuse our bodies in many ways that the ancient Masters could not conceive of. We sit all day, tensing up our neck, shoulders and back, not to mention our minds. We exercise sporadically and often push too hard to make up for lost time. We eat badly, don’t sleep enough and don’t pay enough attention to the subtle signals our body gives us that it needs help.

Yoga has so much to offer to counteract our daily stresses. A consistent, mindful, appropriate yoga practice can help us be more relaxed and at the same time have more energy for the things that matter most in our lives. We can build strength along with flexibility to increase performance in all the other activities we do. We can have fun moving and connecting with our bodies and with our breath.

However, yoga can also do us harm. Some people are surprised to learn that yoga can cause injury. I pushed way too hard in my 20s, leading to a torn hamstring and chronic knee pain years later.

I am grateful for my numerous injuries, however. They led me to find The Breathing Project, a yoga studio in Manhattan specializing in a more individualized approach to yoga. The unparalleled teacher training there, taught by Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Mathhews, co-authors of the best-selling book “Yoga Anatomy,” helped me shape a whole new way to practice and teach.

I felt so empowered at The Breathing Project to practice in a way that felt good for me, torn hamstring and all. I enjoyed choosing what poses to do and how to do them within the framework of the class, rather than as a “special adjustment” that I waited to receive from the teacher. Each class revealed something new about my body, my mind, my life.

This is the way I was taught, and this is the way I teach today. I am honored to share my journey of learning and healing with you, and guide you along your own.

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