I have a background in marine science and international fisheries management, and have spent the last 10 years studying, working and living in the Pacific including Indonesia, Palau, Pohnpei Micronesia, and Hawaii. I spent the first eight years of my life here on Oahu working for the federal government in various positions — underwater marine research, marine education, fisheries policy and management, and marine program and project management. I first worked for NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Fisheries Service on a variety of international tuna policy and sustainability issues in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean. NOAA even sent me to Pohnpei, Micronesia, where I worked for an international tuna management body and taught yoga on the side! Last October, I left my nine-year career with the federal government and started my own consulting firm specializing in ocean and environmental education, fisheries management, project design and grant proposal development. Through yoga wellness, I also promote women’s leadership and empowerment on the Pacific islands where I work. This June I will be leading a Women’s Leadership workshop and Yoga Empowerment Retreat in Kosrae, Micronesia. In July, I will be leading a marine science camp for at-risk youth on Ebeye in the Marshall Islands.
How long have you been teaching yoga and how many classes do you teach?
I have been teaching yoga for 10 years this June! It’s hard to believe, as I still feel like a student in so many ways. The allure and awe of yoga never diminishes for me. The more I study and the longer I practice and teach, the more I discover there is to learn! It’s a beautiful thing. I currently teach three classes a week — two for Power Yoga Hawaii and one in Waialua, where I live, for the North Shore Yoga Coop. I teach a dynamic Vinyasa style called “Fluid Power,” which I learned from Shiva Rea during my training at the Kripalu Institute. I also teach occasionally as seva (volunteer) for a local non-profit called the Joyful Heart Foundation. Currently, I am leading my first 200-hour teacher training at Power Yoga Hawaii, and loving every minute of it! What an absolutely incredible, humbling experience.
What are the benefits of teaching yoga in addition to having a full-time career?
Having a stable source of income apart from yoga has allowed me to approach my yoga offerings more as a service versus a commodity. I have always been — and continue to be — grateful for that. It really can change the experience of teaching when livelihood and ability to make ends meet depend on it. Especially here in Hawaii with a very high cost of living, being able to teach without worrying about the financial side of class pay-out is a big blessing.
Innovation and generosity with teaching has greatly enhanced my experience at my workplace. I’ve offered “free” yoga at almost every place I’ve worked. I can’t tell you how badly people working the Monday-through-Friday grind (especially in the government) need yoga! I have observed tangible changes in those who’ve made yoga a weekly priority at my workspace. Overall morale, integrity, and energy level have improved. In return, people have shown me appreciation and gratitude in beautiful and unique ways. A new community formed within the workplace. I believe it has helped people’s tolerance and motivation. Considering the trend of disgruntled employees in government workplaces, I believe yoga has inspired people to be more impactful and successful in their careers, as well as promoted more meaningful experiences and connections at work.
It’s busy! I remember when I was a full-time grad student, working 20 hours a week at NOAA and teaching five classes a week spanning Kailua and town. Forget having much free time for yourself let alone for friends, a partner, or surfing (or whatever is your extra-curricular activity)! Before I left the government to start my own consulting agency, allowing for a more flexible and selective schedule, I had little time to plan and execute yoga workshops, fundraisers, or other trainings. My personal practice suffered because of poor time management and a busy schedule. It was also hard to pour energy into a “yoga career” apart from weekly classes and the occasional workshop.
What recommendation can you give to other future yoga teachers who don’t want to give up their primary job to teach yoga?
You don’t have to! It is all about how you show up for your students. When you are teaching, even if it’s only once a week, be fully present and focused for your students. Nurture those relationships, and honor that space. You can build a solid and steady community and following simply by your presence, without making yoga your full-time job. It is all about the energy you bring to the role, and how you connect with your students. You don’t need to teach five classes a week, worry about how many students show up to your classes, or stress about posting on Instagram to “succeed” as a yoga teacher. And if you’re too busy to take on studio classes, then think outside the box. Teach wherever, whenever, and to whomever you can. Teach at your workplace! Teach to your friends and family. And no matter what is going on in your other career, let it go while you’re with your students. Be with them fully, leading, loving and inspiring along the way.
How has yoga helped you in your career?
Yoga for me is the foundational path for my life. It keeps me grounded, self-aware, mindful, compassionate and outward-focused so that I can effectively be of service to the communities I work with. Working in corporate or corrupt environments heavily impacted by politics, can sometimes be very draining and soul-riveting. I make a point to always incorporate my yoga into how I show up at work. It helps with how I engage with people and partners, with listening and communication skills, and with the overall level of awareness I am able to practice with people and circumstances around me. During my teacher training at the Kripalu Institute, I learned a concept I still teach to this day called “witness consciousness.” It’s the practice of occupying a space of mind that has no prejudice, judgment or attachment, but instead, watching and observing with awareness and acceptance to learn something new. Especially working in other countries made up of multiple islands (Micronesia has four islands all with their own languages and very different cultures), this skill of observing without judgment or reaction is incredibly useful.
Is there anything you would like to add?
I believe the principles of yoga can enhance any career, simply by providing guiding principles on how to live a righteous, grounded, and influential life of service to those around you. That is the whole aim of the yamas and niyamas. Regardless of the industry or field you work in, whether you have another job, yoga can positively affect how you show up, treat others, and grow as a person in order to be more effective in any career or ambition. As with Karma Yoga, your work becomes an offering, and in practicing being fully grateful and present for every moment of it, it becomes a devotion to God and a way to positively impact people around you.