My journey has been a long and winding labyrinth taking me further and further into the world of life coaching, yoga and personal development work. For the past ten years, I have worked primarily as a Master Life Coach, teaching online classes, running retreats and working closely with women from every walk of life. Women who wanted to lose weight, get out of debt, cultivate more love in their lives. Women who want to quit things that are harming their quality of life. Women who want to start things that will enhance their quality of life.
For the past five years, I've had the unique privilege of working on a daily basis with a world-wide group of over a hundred women who are all dedicated to their own personal and spiritual development. Each day, I've had the opportunity to work with them through our online coaching forums. Each week, I've had the pleasure to meet with our worldwide classroom via live video stream for lecture. And a few times a year, these women come together in real life to attend our annual retreats. Through this intense study, I've gotten a unique perspective that most coaches never have. I've gotten to see, over hours, weeks and years what tools work and which ones don't. I've watched women who made changes easily and quickly and stood watch over others who continued to struggle despite their best efforts.
After five years of pouring my heart and soul into this group, I came to a crossroads in the winter of 2014. You might even call it a dark night of the soul. It was late one night and I checked our online forum and found many of my students online and hurting. Drinking problems, loneliness, anxiety, unresolved trauma from their childhood. Many of them were spiraling around the same struggle that they had come to again and again for the past five years. These were smart woman. Successful women. Women who read and studied and actively applied the tools that they learned. Yet, no matter how much "work" they had done, they still seemed to have the same old stress and anxiety. My heart ached for them. I closed my MacBook and cried. There had to be a better way.
At this same crossroads, I had just finished an eight-month writing project which required me to dive deep into my past and re-live, for hours at a time, some of the most horrific episodes of my childhood. This intense immersion into my own story took an unexpected physical toll on me. Beyond being emotionally re-traumatized, I also felt weak, sick and physically sore. Although nothing had happened to me "in real life," I could feel that my body had been severely affected by these memories, through the process of writing my memoir. Before this project, I was easily hiking miles a day in addition to a strong daily yoga practice. By the end of the eight months, I could barely walk a mile without being exhausted. My body seemed to need all of its resources for the internal healing, leaving nothing for exercise, yoga or anything other than trying to regain a sense of internal strength.
This was my first personal experience where I knew in my bones that I needed something more powerful than even the best coaching to help me. Nothing in my life coaching tool box could help my body repair itself. This wasn't a mind-issue, it was an entire-body-issue. This was shocking to me and also made me extremely curious to learn how the body copes with trauma, abuse and memories.
For nearly twenty years, I've brought my prayers to my yoga mat. And this time it was no different. I started to pray for my clients and students and for myself, "Show me the way. Show me how to help." Through the poses and the breath I just kept thinking, "I wish I could find them a good yoga class."
Over and over, I heard, "They need yoga. You need yoga."
We need yoga.
This was a revolutionary moment in my career. Ironically, I had taken a Yoga Teacher Training just for fun the previous year and had never dreamed of incorporating it into my work. But I listened to that voice, the voice of truth. I began to incorporate yoga into my coaching sessions and began to witness miracles on a daily basis. Women who couldn't leave abusive situations were suddenly, easily, setting healthy boundaries. Women who had always hated their bodies began to find love and appreciation for their own skin. Women who lived in financial fear began to breathe easily and point themselves in a steady and guided direction.
More than anything, they began to feel safe to feel what they feel. To be alive. To be the full expression of who they are.
Life coaching is what we call a "top-down" approach. The tools are focused on the mind and on letting go of painful thinking. The problem is that many people get stuck in the "top" and never get to the "down" part. They want to work only on their mind and stay up in the cerebral. They are, quite literally, "in their heads." I was one of these people. My head was a safe and reliable place for me. I learned to use my mind to help me cope with traumatic childhood violence and abuse. I did not feel safe living in my body or feeling my feelings. When we are traumatized we are afraid of what we are feeling, because our feeling is always terror, or fear or helplessness.
Yoga is what we call a "bottom-up" approach. An asana (yoga pose) practice focuses on the body and ideally, the practice will bridge healing to the heart and mind. Many yoga students, though, get caught at the "bottom" and work only on their bodies. Staying only in the physical.
Body-based techniques help us to feel what's happening in our body, and to breathe into it and not run away from it. So we can learn to befriend our experience. Yoga Church facilitates the complete "top-down" and "bottom-up" approach to healing so that people live fully in their bodies and find a sense of sovereignty and peace in their lives.
Yoga Church is a blend of cutting edge technology and ancient wisdom that helps integrate mind, body and soul. It is designed for people of any size, weight, age or medical history. No previous yoga experience is required. I'm going to repeat this because it's important: Yoga Church is designed for EVERY HUMAN BODY. Yes, even yours. My clients have been transformed, regardless of their size, age, shape or initial health. I've worked with women who are more than one hundred pounds overweight, women who were previously afraid to step into a regular yoga class, thinking they'd be unwelcome. I've worked with the terminally ill and this method helped (literally) to bring them back to life. I've worked with hard-core athletes as well as with people who have never exercised a day in their lives. I've worked with young kids helping them to feel comfortable with their feelings. And I've worked with beautiful elders who are hoping to embrace the aging process gracefully. This is not the type of yoga that's designed to be pretty for a magazine. This is real yoga with real bodies. Trust me. You will do fine.
The body has its own language and it is constantly offering meaningful guidance. Understanding this language is critical to emotional, physical and spiritual healing. Mind-body connection isn't an on/off switch. It's an ever deepening well. The relationship between our mind and our body needs space and time to create intimacy, trust and understanding. The body stores memories, traumas and emotional pain. To fully heal and move on, the body must be supported in letting go of the past.
Yoga Church helps you know who you are, what you want, what isn't working for you and what you yearn for. It helps you create a life you love.