B.A. / B.S Williams College '05
MD Mount Sinai School of Medicine '09
M.A.,.E.d elementary Hunter College '15
RYT 200 Adult Yoga Vinyasa Teacher Certification - Pure Yoga
KAY yoga teacher certifications for children, children with special needs, and mommy/me, infants, and toddlers, Little Flower Mindfulness Trauma-Informed Yoga Certified
I live in Williamstown, Massachusetts in the beautiful Berkshires with my three young children, husband, and service dog, Mindi. I graduated Williams College with majors in psychology and art history. I finished medical school at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in NYC and began a residency in psychiatry with an interest and electives based on child psychiatry. After realizing the medicine path was not for me and finalizing my licensing, I completed a Masters Degree in Elementary Education and pursued a yoga certification. During my time in NYC, I taught yoga to students in Spanish Harlem while also student teaching in local public and private elementary schools. Throughout medical school and my masters program, I did extensive research on the benefits and impacts of yoga and meditative practices in public schools, citing significant results in focus, self-confidence, and happiness in the children that took yoga and mindfulness practices.
Since moving up to Williamstown 6 years ago, I have continued to pursue this interest and passion through many different avenues and currently while working as the North Adams Program Coordinator for the Center for Learning in Action at Williams (along with many other responsibilities), teaching a Winter Study on Exploring Mindfulness Within Ourselves and Local Communities, and teaching an independent study on Wellbeing Practices in Schools. I've been helping students of all ages learn and appreciate the practice of yoga and mindfulness and teaching them how to incorporate these tools into their lives from a young age. As a competitive athlete and varsity tennis player at Williams, I found yoga to be incredibly grounding and helpful as an athlete as well as a student. I have been practicing yoga since I was ten and through the natural ebbs and flows of life, my practice has remained constant. The asanas (postures) and pranyama (breathing) I have been able to practice has definitely changed during times, but the wholeness and calmness I feel when I practice yoga and mindfulness does not change. I have taught over the years at preschools, elementary schools, and many classes featuring children's yoga and adult's yoga at my studio, Smalltown Yoga (I founded and owned 2018-2019 - I currently do not have a yoga studio, but I continue to update and offer free YouTube classes on my Smalltown Yoga website). Whenever I practice yoga, I feel an instant energy and empowerment that I want to share with fellow yogis. When I end my practice I feel a wholeness and calmness that enables me to be more capable and focused in the real world. The benefits of yoga with children and adults are tremendous, but starting at a young age enables children during their pivotal years of development to acquire a sense of self-empowerment and confidence in addition to concentration, focus, and general kindness, that will help them to grow into empathic, strong, caring adults.
I have been a passionate yogi for 25 years, since I was 9 years old. I was a competitive nationally ranked tennis played and had difficulties with focus and stress management. When I first learned my salutations, I was doubtful how this was really “for me.” I stuck with it and by college, medical school, through my multiple pregnancies, and masters program, yoga in any shape or form from gentle/restorative, to powerful vinyasa, inversion and arm balance workshops, and most importantly ending each class with an introspective meditation away from the stressors and the reality of the external world. I have been through a lot in my life, but yoga has empowered me, given me self confidence, and is the main tool in my soothing “kit” to destress and gain perspective of the world and real issues. Children today have all been through the chronic stress of the pandemic and supports and tools that once were available are no longer an option. Many students were unable to attend school for full days or at all, taking away their one safe haven and consistent place that they routinely attended. The uncertainty, grief, loss, loneliness, and adverse experiences that all of us have been through at some level over the past two years is tremendous. Students returning to school this year for full days for the first time in 1.5 years has been a shock to many of their little selves. Their stiff bodies crave wiggling, movement, flexibility. Many students during "remote" learning did not have to sit at a confined desk for nearly 5 hours of the day. Students struggle with the stillness, lack of flexibility, and the physical and mental discomfort of confinement during the school day now more than ever and it can impede their ability to learn and absorb knowledge.
My passion for teaching children’s yoga, mindfulness-based movement, and meditative or reflective practices is to enable them to challenge themselves and make themselves proud in a non-competitive forum while recognizing that every day is not the same. It is important for students to be able to accept the uncertainty of that which they cannot control around them and to not let that discourage them from being empowered to change things and do things that can help them move forward and attain real goals. Yoga and mindfulness are secular and should not have religious, spiritual, or cultural connotations when these practices are taught in schools. These exercises and movements are skills and can be life-changing and survival skills. They are skills that are a constant that an individual should learn that they ALWAYS have and ALWAYS can practice as long as they have the ability to breath and move around even in a small space. The effects of such practices on mental health and physical health are well documented and extraordinary. Among many goals, I encourage students to learn self-compassion and to incorporate mindfulness, bodily, and self-awareness into their daily routines. Through teaching young students and adults, my hope is that as a community we can become more mindful of ourselves and attuned to others around us. If I can get a four year old to lay down through a guided meditation through a "magical garden" (as I call it at times) with eyes closed for even a couple of minutes than I feel like I have done something. I also think it's important for students to learn to explore what helps them in the moment and to accept that what might be helpful to one individual may not be helpful to another. The toolkit that students are learning and building is individualized and through experience and self-reflection, even at a young age, students can build this always evolving kit and always have it; unlike many things right now, this kit cannot be taken away.
My classes build on the community that we create beginning day one. Before the pandemic, we did many partner poses and worked together to help, not compete. Now, classes include many group exercises that allow students to be mindful of others while maintaining safe social distancing. It is important that students still have a connection to one another during the pandemic. Yoga is a life long tool, which brings me to my dedication to teaching yoga to adults. As an adult I was faced with many physical obstacles that left me in four years of physical therapy. I struggled. Once an avid athlete and in prime shape, pregnancies, bedrest, and surgeries had left me with an unrecognizable body and being the perfectionist that I was (and still am at times) I was highly self-judgmental. Mindfulness-based movement helped me build up my confidence. Yoga initially was a form of yoga (physical) therapy for me and given my background as a licensed physician I was able to comprehend the different muscles that were weak and needed strengthening. Yet at the end of every session, the meditation and mindfulness enabled me to be in the present, the here and now; this is what I am, this is what I did, and I’m proud of where I am now and what my body is capable of in the moment.
I want to bring yoga to children and adults and have them experience what it has done for me. How it can be a crutch in grief and loss, injuries, and struggles. Get on your mat and put on your yogi glasses to separate from the world. Every child or adult deserves a time to dedicate to their body and yoga (meaning union) helps us all to unite our mind and body into one, to think and flow as one and to relax as one. My mission through my research and work with mindfulness techniques is to introduce to adults and children a new kind of "time out."