I don't even know where to begin this newsletter, because there is so much to cover! Happily, 2017 has been a very full year. After kicking off January with my Goal Chaser workshop series, it inspired me to re-focus my own goals. This turned into a lot of reading and self-study (svadhyaya). I enrolled in an anatomy and physiology course at Kapiolani Community College. We did several dissections and learned all about the way our bodies align and function. For those of you who attend my classes, you know I am very interested in the anatomy of yoga, alignment, and just simply being. This experience and more sparked within me an even deeper desire to learn.
A year and a half ago I had reconstructive ankle surgery on an injury that I have had since 5th grade (I broke my tibia and fibula). As a full-time yoga instructor the experience was both humbling and informative, and it shifted my entire mindset on kinesiology. After months of physical therapy with minimal improvement, my surgeon recommended that I find a sports exercise trainer in Honolulu who specialized in biomechanics of the ankle. Aside from enrolling in more physical therapy, I was at a loss as to how to find somebody with such specific qualifications. In fact, many people come to me to improve function through yoga after an injury or to enhance athletic performance, but I have nowhere near the knowledge to guide a person, even myself, back to their full capability. I knew I wanted and needed to learn more.
My own rehabilitation has precipitated a complete change in the way I instruct yoga and the way I lead my yoga teacher training program. What began as a lot of self-investigatory work has become an even more narrowly focused passion or a purpose. I am on a quest to learn more about biomechanics, exercise physiology, and anatomy. With a background in both psychology and public health, and of course yoga, I know that improved physical function translates to happier people and improved public health. Aside from my recent ankle surgery, over the years of my research career, I became more and more interested in the physical aspects of function as opposed to the psychological aspects. I have seen how the former can improve the latter. If you are interested in this topic, respond to my email. I have always had the intention of earning my doctoral degree but then life happened - in a beautiful way, my plans changed.
I truly believe in listening to the pull of life. Whether you feel the pull of your interests or what makes your heart leap, we have to practice getting quiet and connected enough to hear and feel it. Between yoga and some consistent vision and goals work, I make a practice of trying to feel these pulls. I have been an athlete all my life. I’ve always been intrigued by the way our bodies move and function. I was a psychology major, and I’ve always been interested in how our thoughts impact our reality. In college, I nerded it up big time and hit the books really hard. I did well and entered the world of research and had aspirations to become a doctor.
I became a yoga instructor after college because it was the natural next step in my yoga practice. I worked in psychiatric research for three years following college before studying public health in graduate school (which was a stepping stone to earning my doctorate). Through graduate school I continued my teaching of yoga. I stepped into it as a full time teacher after graduate school, it was intended to be a temporary gig. But all I wanted to do was teach, I absolutely loved it and I still do. I allowed myself to continue to be pulled. I learned so much. I developed programs, taught 200-hour teacher trainings, hosted retreats, large events, corporate yoga, and more than one thousand private classes. I was also lucky enough to work with many amazing companies as an ambassador. Shout out Lululemon, Manduka Yoga, Banan, Jugo Life Juice, UltraMana Coffee, Peace Cafe, Moana Surfrider, and most recently Susan G Komen.
As I mentioned, things started to shift for me after having an ankle surgery 2015. I poured over physical rehabilitation literature, enrolled in an online nutrition program, and the anatomy and physiology course. I worked with many physical therapists and I practiced yoga. All in an effort to bring my little ankle and everything it affected back to “normal”. In many ways, the healing I sought was similar to the healing my students were seeking. This “pull” of interest became so strong, that I connected to a University of Hawaii professor who is at the forefront of biomechanics research. I began sitting in on a few of his lectures. In just a few hours time, I felt information overload (in the best way possible). I loved every minute of it all. Before I knew it, I was applying for a PhD in exercise science.
Because my yoga business took off, and life pulled me into my yoga career, I always said that the only circumstance under which I would ever go back to school for my PhD was if I had a burning desire to learn everything on a topic and if I had a personal interest in it. I’ve decided to become an expert in this area. I am still going to be teaching yoga, so don't worry there!
I am so excited to tell you that I am going back to school to study exercise science. Trust me, I never saw this day coming. I will be doing research in biomechanics. I already integrate a lot of science into my classes. Earning a doctorate in this field will definitely help take my knowledge to the next level. I am so excited for this step in my career. I am especially excited to integrate this knowledge into my yoga teachings. YOU will all benefit from this next step.
Now that I have been accepted, it is hitting me, just how much work lies ahead. Right off the bat, I begin with teaching an 80 person lecture. Let's just say, there will be a lot of studying and yoga happening this summer before school begins in August.
Deep breaths and Sun Salutations,
Photography by Lululemon and Chelsea Abril.