What is your primary career and what do you do, how long have you been doing it?
I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Marriage and Family Therapist, and business owner of my own private practice. I have served as a mental health professional for the last six years in roles that have ranged from working with the DOE to guest lecturing at Chaminade University. The last three years have been dedicated to honing my skills as a business owner while I established my private practice.
I can remember the near moment that I set out on this course to heal others. I was a patient once, and felt a profound sense of duty while at a treatment center. It was a breakthrough moment when I realized how much I could give; how much I wanted to give to people who needed a voice and a confidante; how much people needed to be heard from deep within their soul. I knew that this profession was my calling, but I hadn’t quite figured out how the healing in others would manifest itself.
Fast forward nine years, and I have my own practice! I am my own boss and I couldn’t be happier. One of the best things that I have learned along my path is the ability to be flexible; flexible with practice, flexible with self-care, flexible in how I interact with clients or even yoga students for that matter. To be infinitely flexible with the healing process is a gift that I try to impart on my clients. Healing is a process that is infinite, and that is centric to my practice. I encourage my clients to explore the root(s) of their suffering, but we don’t just sit around on a couch and talk about past experiences. That’s part of the process too, but there are so many other ways to express your light (or your shadow).
Part of the practice is to delve into these options; options of music, dance, movement, meditation, sound, and of course yoga, in which the beauty of this process rests. I revel in the fact that there is an abundance of methods and forms that lead to healing. My methodology can best be described as a holistic approach to psychological, emotional, and behavioral issues. My methods challenge the familiar or preconceived notions of a clinical approach to therapy, but the effect of encouraging someone to step out of their comfort zone within a safe space is the same, whichever way you look at it. My clients and I find a less clinical setting to be more accommodating.
How long have you been teaching yoga and how many classes do you teach?
I’d say that I’m relatively new to yoga. I finished my first yoga teacher training in the summer of 2016 with Yoga Hawaii in Honolulu. It is now my home studio, where I teach the Level 1 class on Wednesdays at 7:45pm. I was initially teaching other classes, but locking down one day and claiming it as my own has made a great impact in my ability to build a following and create my own style and flow within my practice.
I love teaching the Level 1 class! There is an incredible opportunity to create a rapport with my students. Together we break down connotations of what yoga is or what it should be. I love the transformation that takes place from the first time aspiring yogis set foot into a class to the point where you get to see them grow and build their foundation of knowledge; not only about the physical asanas, but to build a solid foundation and better relationship with themselves. It’s very reminiscent of the work I do as a counselor.
What are the benefits of teaching yoga in addition to having a full-time career?
The benefit of teaching yoga outside my full-time counseling practice is that when I am teaching a class, it gives me the space to create and move freely. It allows me the time and space to not only connect to the energy of my students and the people around me, but to really tune into myself and express myself through movement.
In addition to the classes that I teach in the studio, I incorporate yoga and meditation into some of my counseling sessions within my private practice. When in a safe place, movement and mindfulness become powerful tools that can start moving stagnant energy, which can then manifest itself in various emotions and ailments.
I think the question should be, “What have you learned from teaching yoga in addition to having a full-time career?” I try to live by the philosophy that there isn’t necessarily good or bad in this life. We experience challenges in order to learn from them. And my answer to that question is… SELF-CARE, SELF-CARE, SELF-CARE!
I have learned that, if I am not mindful about practicing self-care, I can get burnt out quite quickly giving so much of my energy to supporting others in their healing processes, while also supporting yogis in their journey to self-discovery.
What recommendation can you give to other future yoga teachers who don’t want to give up their primary job to teach yoga?
There is always time for yoga! It’s in everything we do. It is how we treat ourselves and others. Yoga is being aware of the energy we exude and share with the rest of the world. Most importantly, yoga is connection. We can always find ways to bring yoga and mindful practice into our everyday lives. For example, you can share yoga at work with your co-workers. The more you give and share from your wealth of knowledge, the more you’ll receive in ways you never thought possible.
Is there anything you would like to add?
The concept of healing is one that can be pretty confusing or abstract for some, but the best way I can find to describe it is through this particular quote: “Healing yourself is connected with healing others.”
This applies to the work I do on and off of my mat, because I can only help others heal as much as I have helped myself and have invested in my own deep healing work. As light workers of the world, we need to remember to heal ourselves so that we may help others on their healing paths.
How has being a yoga teacher helped you in your career?
Yoga has helped me heal. It has taught me to be more patient with myself, which translates into being more present and patient with my clients. Yoga has introduced me to a different thread of healing and has given me an opportunity in my clinical practice to be less traditional with my options.
The essence of all that is light — of all that is infinite — has helped propel me to an incredibly beautiful space with my clients and within my practice. Namaste.