I began dancing when I was three years old with a singing and dancing studio in Utah. I was initially interested in Yoga to improve flexibility for dance and to expand my knowledge in health and fitness. Aside from increased flexibility and knowledge of physiology, Yoga influenced my dancing most by transforming my interior life.
I introduced myself to Yoga when I was in 7th grade with an MTV Power Yoga tape. It was a shallow practice, but it made me quite familiar with the basic asanas and sun salutations. For the time being, I left Yoga at that and continued my music and dancing.
In high school I became a serious student of modern dance. Modern dance goes beyond structure and explores creativity, within and outside the box, to express an idea; it was very different from the dancing I was used to. Its encouraging freedom helped me expand on dance/life with creative open mindedness. I also began to study Buddhism here and there. It set my sail on a thirsty voyage of philosophy, perception and art.
After high school, I was accepted onto the college dance company and was taking additional ballet classes to advance my technique for modern dance. I wanted higher leg extensions, leaps and more flow. Often in my ballet classes, I’d forget to breathe and become nervous of the teacher. Also, in dance company there was almost always an atmosphere of competitive comparison. Sometimes the competitive aspect would kill the original intention of enjoying and creating art.
I needed a soothing practice for myself before and/or after dance to counter the stress of my college load and dance classes. Again, I turned to Yoga to compliment my efforts. I picked up a Rodney Yee DVD and used it about three times a week. The DVD had the same asanas as the MTV one but it incorporated ujjayi breath, relaxation, mindfulness and it had an actual Savasana at the end. I was getting a taste of what it was like to induce and access inner relaxation. Its effects were obvious especially during barre work. There was a significant increase in breath awareness and release. I was consciously breathing through the dance moves as you breathe in Yoga practice. It helped smooth rigid areas in my movement and mind. I was able to center and calm myself.
The impact Yoga had made me want a deeper understanding of the theory behind it so I enrolled in mind-body connection and meditation courses. The classes opened my mind to new levels. I craved all the new things I was learning. It was like finding a door that opened to a world you’d always been missing. After that semester, I pursued my 200-hour Yoga teaching certification so that I could deepen my education and involvement in the healing arts and its accompanying philosophy.
Taking this path continues to change my life every day and I couldn’t be more grateful. It’s a continuous experiment. Before I had taken to studying Yoga, Buddhism, and other healing arts, physical exercise and dancing was always a place of competition and comparing. Now it is more about artistic acceptance, kind curiosity and deep enjoyment.