More About My Story
I grew up in Milwaukee, WI and attended UW-Madison on an academic scholarship. After studying abroad in Ecuador through the International Partnership for Service Learning, I knew my calling was to be of service to others. I graduated with a BA in Social Welfare with honors and the academic distinction of Phi Beta Kappa. From working as a rape crisis counselor, housing advocate for homeless women, academic advisor, client advocacy specialist for emergency grant applicants, and as a service coordinator for families of children with Autism, I have always been drawn to empowering people to nurture their strengths, achieve their goals and enhance their quality of life.
After college, I moved to Austin, TX, and was volunteering at nonprofits to try to get my foot in the door while working in a busy café as a barista. I had previously explored yoga mostly through VHS tapes and books, and then during that time in Austin began exploring a variety of styles of yoga classes to help ease the aches and pains in my body from long hours standing and repetitive stress injuries. I found physical relief from yoga and so much more as I continued to deepen my practice. I left Austin for an opportunity to volunteer teaching English in Costa Rica, and while doing some traveling there, I was introduced to Kripalu yoga, which expanded my idea of what yoga could be, with the possibilities of spontaneous movement in yoga, as well as working with the body as a vehicle for transformation in all aspects of life. That experience planted the seeds for me to later complete intensive yoga teacher training at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Massachusetts. After Costa Rica, I moved to New York City, where yoga was my daily therapy, helping to keep me strong physically, mentally and emotionally. I was living in a small, windowless room in a cockroach-infested apartment, but I felt like I was living my dream: living in Brooklyn, working for a nonprofit in Manhattan and making plans to go to grad school.
Then something unthinkable happened. My sister Ana, my only sibling, was diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer at only 30 years old. She needed intensive and debilitating treatments and she did not want to leave the life she had built for herself in Kansas City, so I left NYC and moved in with her in Kansas to help her during her treatment. We did everything we could to battle the cancer, following the chemo and other treatment schedules religiously, adhering to an ultra-strict diet from a cancer nutritionist, and exploring holistic and alternative therapies to augment her western treatments. In the end, the cancer was too advanced and too aggressive, and Ana, my big sister, my role model, my best friend, the strongest and most vibrant person I knew, died before she even turned 32 years old.
After Ana died, I experienced intense grief, PTSD and depression. I explored many avenues to healing and what helped me most, when I was well enough to do it, was yoga. However, it was often difficult to find the motivation to get to the mat by myself, and even more challenging to find an appropriate class to attend. When I found shiatsu, after my first session I felt a deep sense of calm, relief from physical and emotional pain, more in touch with my mind and my body, and more able to do activities like yoga that helped me continue to feel even better and feel hope for the future.
As I continued to feel better, I wanted to learn more about shiatsu, and I was drawn to the school of Zen Shiatsu Chicago for their emphasis on combining Eastern bodywork with Western science. I graduated from their shiatsu certification program, becoming a nationally Certified Practitioner of Asian Bodywork with the AOBTA (American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of Asia) and a Licensed Massage & Bodywork Therapist in the state of Wisconsin. My shiatsu training has also included a year-long postgraduate training in Clinical Shiatsu Studies, focused on advanced techniques for helping with chronic issues. I am very grateful to have experienced Asian bodywork training immersed in an in-depth study of Shiatsu, Chinese Medicine and Daoyin energy cultivation practices, as well as learning Swedish massage techniques and western medical models of anatomy, physiology and pathology, and how to integrate it all.
I am also grateful to have been exposed to Kripalu yoga, and since my initial yoga teacher training at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, I have focused on the therapeutic aspects of yoga, teaching yoga to people with cancer and cancer survivors, homeless women, and survivors of domestic violence, and now offering private yoga sessions customized to a variety of needs and health conditions. I have continued to learn and grow my skills and knowledge, completing continuing education including yoga postural assessment and adjustments, Kundalini yoga for addictions and habit breaking, Life Force Yoga for anxiety and depression, and Mind Body Solutions adaptive yoga training. I also completed Integrative Yoga Therapy's 300 hour Advanced Teacher of Therapeutic Yoga certification. In this training I learned many valuable therapeutic tools and techniques for teaching groups and facilitating one-on-one yoga therapy sessions. I am in the process of earning Integrative Yoga Therapy’s 800 hour certification, which is accredited by the International Association of Yoga Therapists and the highest level of certification for professional yoga therapists.
I have made some bold choices in my life, including studying abroad in South America; backpacking alone in Europe, Central America, and around the US; living in Austin and New York City; taking on cancer with my sister; moving back home to Milwaukee after many years away; dedicating myself to the study and practice of yoga and shiatsu; and more recently in 2015 opening Embodied Therapeutics. I have chosen this path because yoga and shiatsu have helped me immensely in healing emotionally and physically, and I am passionate about helping others to experience these healing benefits. Being a yoga and shiatsu practitioner as well as a business owner is challenging and a continuous labor of love, but I look forward every day to meeting with clients, witnessing with great reverence the magnificence of life and the strength of the human spirit, and helping to facilitate transformation in body, mind and spirit.
I have shared some of my personal experiences and background here so that you can know a little more about me and how I got into doing this work, and because I want others in unimaginably difficult and painful situations to know that there is hope. While external circumstances often cannot be changed, I believe that it IS possible to find healthy ways of coping, and to change our perspective of, and relationship to, the circumstances presented to us.
Both yoga and shiatsu are powerful tools for shifting our perspective and tuning in to our innate wisdom and our intrinsic healing abilities. I am honored to be doing this work and to support you on your journey. I truly believe in, and have experienced myself, the healing and transformative effects of yoga and shiatsu, and I am excited to share them with you.