photo by ryan lemahieu

photo by ryan lemahieu

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Midwest, East Coast, Midwest, West Coast, Midwest AGAIN

The last year has been a flurry of change, and looking back over the last 10 years, wow - what an amazing trip it's been! I'm thirty now and I have a reason to look at what I was doing 10 years ago because of what is about to happen in the next hour and a half.

Ten years ago, I was a student at the University of Minnesota in Duluth. I was teeter-tottering on the edge of a psychology major, but at that point my major was undeclared. I had been taking a lot of psychology courses, however, and as many courses as I could from the then head of the psychology department, Bud McClure. Two classes in particular floated my boat - "Transpersonal Psychology" and "Psychology of Personal Development." In these classes, not only did we study from books, but we met in the wrestling gym once a week and took yoga classes and meditation instruction. I had been dabbling in both since high school, and this was a chance to go deeper and it was INCLUDED in my college curriculum! How fantastic!

The yoga instructor that Bud hired to teach our classes was a woman named Joie Acheson, who was one of the founders of Duluth's fabulous yoga studio, Yoga North. What a teacher - with grace and patience she led a bunch of college kids through an hour of moving and breathing. Joie went on to become UMD faculty and handed over Yoga North to the capable hands of her co-founder, Deborah Adele (who wrote a fabulous book, by the way -- Yamas and Niyamas: Exploring Yoga's Ethical Practice).

I graduated in 2003 with my BA in Psychology. I actually did it! Amazing. As soon as I graduated (and released my sophomore record, East to the Sea), I moved to Providence, Rhode Island to explore the east coast music scene from this quirky city. I did a lot of things there - and did actually work in the psychology field for a bit (I did HIV Prevention Street Outreach -- working in Needle Exchange Sites for injection drug users, and also worked for a spell at Rhode Island Hospital as a Clinical Research Assistant studying HIV risk behavior and substance abuse with women in a minimum security prison. Big stuff!).

I was, still, taking yoga. I had my first introduction to Viniyoga in Providence with Karen Lee, director of Breathing Time Yoga. The name of her studio is truly what it felt like, "breathing time." Time to slow down and BREATHE for crying out loud!

I moved back to Duluth after a few years in Providence, stayed 9 months and rejuvenated, and then moved to Minneapolis to focus more deeply on my music career. I joined a gym there, and took instruction from a woman named Kim, who was pretty far away from the gentle (yet powerful) teachings of Karen, but oh my goodness, I adored her classes! Kim studied with Core Power Yoga (I might be mistaken, but I'm pretty sure she told me that ...) and kicked my butt every time. After one of her classes, we ended up sitting in the gym's sauna at the same time. She told me something to the effect that my practice is lovely and that she thought that I would be a great yoga teacher. It made my heart flutter a little bit, as I had thought of it, but was waiting for a push. Thank you, KIM!!

I wasn't totally in love with Minneapolis, even though my music was going great and I was doing shows all over the place. Maybe it was fear of success, or maybe the wanderlust, or maybe the winters that drove me away, but I decided to follow that urge to study yoga deeper and moved to Seattle, that stunning city of green mossy-ness and misty rain.

That's where I found Tracy Weber at Whole Life Yoga and my life has been forever changed for the better. I took Tracy's 200 hour certification - and found my way back to Viniyoga, which is my big yoga love, even though I respect other lineages. Viniyoga makes SENSE to me, in the sequencing, in the ways that you move with the rhythm of your breath. I love it.

I moved BACK to Duluth this summer. One of the hardest things is leaving my Viniyoga community behind and not being able to get my fix in classes! But I have found that there is a huge community of yoga practitioners here, and while it might not be in the style that I'm wed to, I am learning so much and making incredible connections. And, that lovely studio I talked about earlier -- Yoga North -- HIRED ME!

And that brings me to NOW. Back in my college days, my friend Jillian Nelson taught yoga at Bud's (the psychology professor) psychology retreats. She now teaches yoga to his transpersonal psychology class, as well as Molly McManus. Both Jillian and Molly were happy that I knew Bud so that I could sub for them at UMD when they needed time off. Well, TODAY IS THE DAY!! 20 minutes from now I'll be heading up to UMD to come full circle - to my college, to the same class that I took ten years ago, except I get to be the yoga teacher. Wow. I am constantly amazed by the surprises that life has in store. This was a quite the life-story sharing time, but it is the crazy winding and wonderful path I've been taking. Off to UMD. XOXO!