Too often I had assumed that others knew the intensity of my appreciation for them, only to discover otherwise.
—Marshall Rosenberg, Nonviolent Communication
My journey as a yoga teacher was picked for me by a random series of fortuitous events. My first class was at the X Shadyside, which, back in 2003, had the foresight to hire thoughtful teachers for a new offering: yoga. If their teachers were sub-par (or even par), I may have never had a good first experience with yoga and none of this would have happened. Many thanks to X Shadyside for hiring thoughtful teachers.
I also started taking classes at Schoolhouse Yoga, which was then a pink building in the Strip District with some graffiti in the stairs up to the third floor studio, a former middle-school gymnasium. It was there that I spoke with teachers about philosophy and sequencing. I was eventually asked to teach at both the X and Schoolhouse Yoga. Many thanks to Leta Koontz and the Schoolhouse Yoga staff for giving me a chance to teach before I even had formal training and allowing me to use their space for my personal practice and private clients to this day.
I asked a teacher about yoga retreats and was recommended to Tias Little. In 2005, I spent all my personal and vacation time in Santa Fe, learning about yoga with him and his wife Surya at the Upaya Zen Center. It’s not everybody’s idea of a vacation to wake up at 5:30am, meditate for a hour in the zendo, eat in silence, all before practicing yoga and looking at slides all day. But I loved it, and to this day I visit Santa Fe often (earning my 500 hour certificate through Tias’ Prajña Yoga in 2016). I bow with palms together to Tias and Surya for their knowledge and approach.
My self-practice took up more and more time. Being a financial auditor for a CPA firm Washington, DC started to feel like a side project. Eventually I chose to quit. I thank Calibre CPA firm for allowing me to move back to Pittsburgh and work from home, first full-time, then part-time.
Paul Grilley’s no-nonsense approach was refreshing back in 2007 when I studied with him. His work with Yin Yoga and anatomic variation is still revolutionary. I thank Paul Grilley for being ultra-logical in a culture that often sweeps logic under the table, so as to not stir up discontent.
I’ve also studied a lot with Max Strom, who is one of the most intuitive people I’ve ever met. After attending a workshop with him, I sought him out on a road trip in 2008. Not only did he teach a great class in his then-hometown of Ashland, Oregon, he also bought me breakfast the next day. It was a time where I had little money of my own. The food and the conversation was what I needed. I’ve studied and shared many meals with him since then, and I offer thanks for his generosity and insights.
Yoga has been my primary income since I quit Calibre in 2007. The interest my students and clients have in yoga are the reason I can buy groceries and heat my home. People can spend their time and resources in an unlimited amount of ways, and I thank my clients, students, and trainees whole-heartedly for choosing to dedicate themselves to the practice.
For the studios who trusted my ability to convey the message of yoga to their sanghas over the years, I offer much gratitude: Schoolhouse Yoga, Yoga on the Square, Yoga Hive, BYS Yoga, Embody Yoga, Falk Laboratory School and Yoga Factory in Pittsburgh; iYoga in Sewickley; the Mount Lebanon Public Library; Infinity Flow, New Castle, PA; Just Breathe, Johnstown, PA; Cameron Wellness Center, Washington, PA; Namaste’ Center, Brookville, PA; Sangha Center, Beaver, PA; Emmaus Yoga, Emmaus, PA; BlissBlissBliss, Morgantown, WV; PūrYoga, Boardman, OH; Studio Oxygen, Poland, OH; Puma Yoga in Lakewood, OH; Uttara Yoga, Roanoke, VA; Simply Power, Cincinnati, OH; Yoga Centric, Bel Air, MD; and Casa del Angel in Oaxaca, Mexico.
Special shout-out to Jenn Ferris-Glick at Illume and Leah Northrup at the Falk Laboratory School for their space for this 2018 training. Space matters and you both foster wonderful spaces. Thank you!
Most special acknowledgement to my wife Kristin, without whom none of this would have happened. She gave me the confidence and perspective to develop this training when I was tempted to never begin. She has been my researcher, my social media director, and my editor. She’s the reason this manual makes any sense. She’s a wonderful friend and partner and I couldn’t be happier that we’re together.