A misadventure that has somehow become a path…
I stumbled into yoga in 1998 as a way to balance my life as a dancer in New York City. Having just finished my MFA work at Sarah Lawrence College, I was juggling the desk job that was intended to pay off my student loans with dance classes, auditions and the general sense of “not-enoughness” that comes from being a working artist in a big city. My mat quickly became my refuge. It was the place where I could relax and enjoy movement without worrying about the performance aspect of it. Yoga became what I had lost in my dancing — a sense of unselfconscious joy, and it was clear to me that more than choreography, this feeling of coming home to oneself was what I wanted to share with others.
So what does “Tejase” mean anyway?
I encountered the word "tejase" during my first teacher training in Anusara Yoga back in 2001. It was the last line of the Anusara invocation — "niralambaya tejase" — which, loosely translated means “a luminosity that is self-sustaining, without beginning or end.” At the time, I was also practicing and working at OM, a Manhattan-based yoga center under the direction of Cyndi Lee, and the two styles blended as seamlessly into my life as those final words of the invocation.
At OM, where I would eventually complete my second certification and begin teaching in 2002, meditation and yoga sat side by side as part of the culture. The first ten years of my teaching career were humbly steeped in the dharma teachings of the Shambhala lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, which offers meditation as a path that quiets the mind enough to reveal its inherent wisdom. My own teaching style grew to reflect the “ordinary magic” of training body and mind to ride the waves of change that define our lives both on and off the mat without losing our balance, or at least when we do, being able to pause, perhaps even smile, and take a deep breath.
Making Practice Practical
These days, as the mother of two children, I find that the mettle of my yoga and meditation practices are tested daily. Parenting has perhaps been the most powerful teaching on the interdependence of wisdom and compassion — humbling me while simultaneously increasing my capacity for joy. Lofty intentions aside, this stuff has to be useful for your life or it simply isn't useful at all. So every morning, I roll out my mat, throw down an asana practice and then sit quietly on a bunch of blankets. Some days I do it in reverse, but either way, my life and the lives it touches have become my source material, my practice, my path.
This is my offering.