I grew up in Virginia pretty athletic, my dad was the star quarterback in high school football, and had a heavy influence on my life. I used to say when I was a little girl if I had been born a boy would’ve been a football player. In middle and high school I did a variety of sports including dance, soccer, softball, field hockey, track, and skiing. But as I went to college I lost touch with those activities and was searching for something more to stay in shape. In 2007 I found hot yoga. My first class I couldn’t even stay in the room it was so challenging. That’s when I knew it was for me. Nine months later I became a certified teacher and never looked back. In April of 2010 I became co-owner and director of Bikram Yoga Richmond, which was the most responsibility I had ever had. It was two large yoga studios and we eventually opened a small juice bar. It was the perfect job for me. I loved my yoga community and would’ve done anything for them and still would to this day.
In 2009, from the encouragement of some fellow teachers, I decided to compete in the Midwest Yoga Asana Championships. The concept of yoga competition was new and a little controversial, and for some reason I was very drawn to it. My first couple years of competing I was not very good, but I begin training heavily with Esak Garcia and Mary Jarvis. I trained every day like a professional athlete. Sometimes I would do 100 wall walks a day. Some days I would take three classes or more. The important thing with training is to stay consistent so whether your training a lot or just a little, it’s a part of your every day.
Competing for me did not come easy. I trained a lot to do the postures well, and that was the easy part. The challenging part for me was getting on stage and feeling confident in myself in front of hundreds of people watching me. Sometimes 1000 people or more are watching on the live stream. This required a lot of mental training on my end to get over my nervousness. My first few years of competing I fell out a lot on stage and had a lot of disappointments. It wasn’t until 2015 in Binghamton New York where I did my first solid national’s yoga routine and ended up coming in eighth overall in the country. To make the top 10 is a huge accomplishment for athletes. I came in eighth again in 2017 as well.
Because I love and respect yoga sport so much I wanted to help the organization more. I begin volunteering for USA Yoga in 2015. USA Yoga is the official sports federation for yoga in the United States and is the nonprofit that puts on the competitive events for the US. In 2016 I became a board member and head of the marketing committee. In 2017 I was appointed President of USA Yoga. It’s still hard for me to believe that I’m president of the organization where I first started nine years ago. We work very hard at USA Yoga. I find nonprofit to be the most rewarding and valuable work that I do. It’s a job that is with me every day and we are working all the time to make the events as special as possible for the athletes and supporters. Our dream is that yoga will take off from a grassroots sport to more mainstream so that yoga gets even more visibility and more people start practicing. For me being part of the yoga competition keeps me healthy and always keeps me working on something new. It gives me an chance to push myself and be outside of my comfort zone, while in the present moment on stage. My teacher Mary Jarvis says, “never turn down an opportunity to be in the present moment.”
Last year I made some big changes for myself. After seven years as co-owner and director of BYR, I decided to sell my studios and move to the beautiful island of Kauai! I’m now an 18 hour plane ride away from my home in Virginia. Our island is farther from land mass than anywhere else on the planet. I’m currently building a studio on the island and starting a retreat business as well. It’s a lot of work building a studio from scratch, but my dad just retired and we’re building it together so that makes it even more special to me. I would love to see some yoga sporting events hosted on this island!
I’m so grateful to Angelie for noticing me and designing such a beautiful one piece in honor of my story. I told her that as competitors we have a hard time finding cute and comfortable one pieces and leotards to compete in and I asked her if she would consider designing something. I never imagined she would do this much for me. I love how “the Garland” one piece wraps around your neck like a garland or Hawaiian Lei. As an athlete and competitor to have something comfortable and attractive that you feel good and can make a world of difference in how you perform on stage. I’m so grateful for Angelie and her mission with Of the Saints Apparel, and I can’t wait to sell her clothes in my new yoga boutique! Thank you for reading my story. Aloha and mahalo!