When I came up with the name “Bare Bones Yoga,” I was working in a corporate job and teaching yoga part time. It was the start of the recession in 2009 and one of my students told me she couldn’t afford studio classes as she was laid off. I contacted a friend of mine in real estate and asked him if he had any “unconventional spaces” I could rent. He found me a renovated gas station that was right behind Fenway Park. I offered classes that were “bare bones,” in that the space was all I offered, and classes were $10. People brought their own mats and anything else they needed for practice. I called it “Bare Bones Yoga” and used the motto, “Keeping Yoga Simple” which reflected my commitment to making the classes as accessible as possible (in an odd twist, the space is now a Tasty Burger).
When I lost use of the space, I kept the moniker and the motto, as I liked the idea of focusing on the essentials and staying “inside the lines,” so to speak, in terms of poses I practiced and poses offered in class. I worked hard to whittle my instruction to the basics, speaking succinctly and clearly, to allow maximum space for the student’s experience. My background as a Baptiste Yoga teacher fit nicely with these themes of focusing on the essentials and I continued to teach in this way.
When I lost my last corporate position in 2010, I decided to focus primarily on teaching. I’d been teaching since 2002 and at one point had worked full time as a teacher before returning to corporate work and teaching part time. But at this point, I decided to build my teaching schedule as much as possible. Now, almost 3 years later, it’s a good time to re-establish what “Bare Bones Yoga” stands for, especially as I meet new people and teach in different locations. It’s also a good way to re-affirm my own commitment to certain themes and concepts:
Intentional teaching with clear instruction. Intentional teaching refers to the challenge I present to myself to be purposeful in what I offer each time. This is easy to say, but not always easy to do. This means I think before each class as to what I will be offering and as a student, it means that I intend to be present for you each time we meet. Clear instruction refers to my commitment to speaking only what’s necessary to help you get into the pose and to leave you some space to listen to your intuition and breathe.
Accessible poses with the occasional challenge. My personal practice is filled with the basics: Sun Salutations, basic twists, balancing and backbends. I’d say Wheel and a Handstand or Headstand is on the more complicated side for me. However, over the past year, I’ve started to challenge myself into more complex poses, noting the essential alignment on which these poses are based. As such, I’ve started to bring these poses more into my classes in an effort to present a wider range of experience.
Occasional music. I was trained to teach without music and this has been my preference. I love the silence in between the instruction. While this is my preference, I have inherited a class to music in my schedule and strive to teach this class with even more focused instruction, so as to leave the space filled primarily with the sounds of music and breath. Generally speaking though, my teaching is without music.
A consistent foundation. This refers to my style of sticking to some basic framework for each class you attend. It involves starting with a resting pose, proceeding into Sun Salutations, twists, triangles and backbends. Some classes will have a particular focus, or build up to a certain pose, and others will be moving through a basic sequence. Some of my classes will be heated and some will not, depending on the style of the studio and class.
A more detailed anatomical explanation, when helpful. I teach anatomy workshops for yoga teachers and am always learning new information about how the body works in the context of yoga poses. I love sharing this information but sometimes find it can be a bit much to add into every class. So, I’ll add this information into class, in more detail, when I feel it will be helpful to you.
The fundamentals of yoga and mindfulness practice, from a theoretical perspective, mixed into class. I try to stay true to the foundation of yoga and my interest in sharing yoga is to share not only the physical but some of the basic principles for which yoga is known. To that end, I’m always reading books and articles on mindfulness and yoga and looking for ways to bring this information to you through a short reading after class or some thoughts on the topic added to the instruction.
Yoga for all ages and in all places. I love sharing yoga with people of all ages and my teaching includes classes for kids as offered in libraries, studios and schools. I teach athletes, especially rowers and runners, and have regular classes for adults in studios. I work with people one-on-one and teach yoga in the workplace. This branching out gives me versatility and the joy of seeing how this practice can be applied in so many different ways and gives you more options for how you can access my instruction. I also have videos and love making videos by request, when someone has a specific question about how to do a particular pose or needs help with a particular sequence.
Other applications of yoga information: training teachers, writing articles on yoga and wellness, public speaking. I love the variability working as a teacher provides; I can share yoga through the practice itself and also by working with teachers on the business and techniques around teaching yoga. Due in part, to my corporate background, I’ve grown the amount of business information I share with teachers, new and experienced, through my Mentorship modules and the articles I write for MindBodyGreen and YOGANONOMOUS. My articles in Mindful Hub and Patch (local online papers in the various communities of Boston) focus on health and wellness tips as inspired by yoga: tips on nutrition, meditation, stress management, goal setting and living healthy. I offer speaking engagements that allow me to bring yoga-inspired information to business and other settings outside the studio.
Pink, Hello Kitty, Flowers, Dogs and all kinds of Animals, Beach, Glitter, Cooking, Running. Through my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts, I strive to share myself on a professional as well as personal level. Those of you that see my posts know that I have a loveable yellow lab, Bailey Rose and love her and all animals deeply. I love the character Hello Kitty and anything pink and glittery. I love to cook, even though I don’t get to do it often enough (I used to be a personal chef). I am a huge fan of the beach, running, the waterfront, sand, sun and summer.
Peace in the body; love in the heart. I have a huge heart and strive to share of it as much as I can through my teaching. This is a personal challenge as well, as I straddle the lines between professional teaching and personal sharing. Yoga teaching as a profession is a sharing of concrete, objective information but in the context of a medium that allows us to share from the heart as well. I know from my own experiences as a student the peace in my heart that I feel after a yoga class and hope that I can help elicit that feeling for my students as well.
The funny thing about mission statements is that they can, and should change, as things change around us. I will say that my passion for “Keeping Yoga Simple” will always be at the heart of my teaching- in terms of my attempt at clear, simple instruction, lots of emphasis on silence and deep breathing as well as staying in the “middle lane” in terms of the poses offered. But as I change and shift, it’s impossible for me to avoid bringing that into my classes and I hope to continue to be inspired as well as inspire by keeping things fresh.
I am always looking for ways to share yoga with others and hope that as our paths cross, either now or in the future, you find my classes interesting, inspiring, challenging as well as relaxing and part of your personal path to peace in your heart.