It is written in my baby book that at 3 years of age I wanted to be a Christmas tree when I grew up. I eventually decided that this ‘position’ would be a bit too static for me. I needed to move. It was that year that my mother enrolled me in dance classes, and I haven’t stopped moving yet.
I was a painfully shy child and this trait seemed especially amplified in dance class. I stood in the back, stayed quiet, and was paralyzed at times for fear of “messing up.” It took a few years for me to break out of this. Not that I went through a complete
transformation and all of a sudden took front and center, but with the support
and encouragement of dance teachers and friends that I made in class, I slowly
began to embrace a new confidence and comfort in my own skin. I’m so grateful to my mother for signing me up all those years ago!
I stayed with dance through middle school—tap, jazz, ballet; Saturday classes and
competitions; sequined costumes and way too much hairspray. I enjoyed it, but at a certain point I suppose I began to burn out. I wanted to try other things; or nothing. I wanted a different routine so I took a few years off.
In my sophomore year of high school I signed up for a dance class that was being
offered at my school. My 8th grade and freshman years had been difficult; emotionally traumatic and paralyzing. I was again ready for some kind of change and began to feel the pull towards motion. This class was different than what I had been used to—it was a modern class. I’d never taken a modern class before. I loved it. We did creative activities,
choreographed our own dances, and for the first time my attention was really
brought to how what we think, feel, and experience is stored in our bodies and
reflected by them as well. There was a freedom in movement that I found in this class.
I absolutely appreciate tap, jazz, and ballet and still enjoy these dance styles (well, maybe not ballet so much—I love watching others do it, but was never ballerina material), but modern dance helped me discover things about myself and offered me the freedom to uniquely express myself through movement in a way these styles had not. I began to appreciate the therapeutic value of moving and dancing.
I went on to major in dance in college. It was wonderful. I loved dancing all day and having the opportunity to perform so often. I faced a bit of a dilemma after graduation, however. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with dance that would support me financially. I began researching careers in dance and came across dance therapy. I remembered someone coming to talk to my class one day about this career path. It
sparked my interest, but I hadn’t really thought about it again until after
graduation. The more I read about dance/movement therapy, how it works, how it can help heal, how so many people have benefitted from it, I was pretty quickly convinced that this was something I wanted to do. It combines dancing and movement with
psychology and counseling. I had thought about many different careers in the therapeutic field and this one allowed me to use my love of dancing in a way that was beneficial to others. So I applied to the prestigious program at Drexel, was accepted, and moved to the big city of Philadelphia to begin the two most challenging years of education I had experienced yet.
Halfway through my graduate program I also became interested in yoga therapy. My mind was racing with all kinds of ways to use the body and movement to further psychological processes and learn more about the self. I began doing yoga in college, and it was definitely a method of self-care I relied on while in the throes of a graduate program. It helped release tension, keep me centered, and calm my overactive mind. It only made sense that this ancient science be applied therapeutically to many conditions I was studying in my graduate classes; I wanted to know how people were doing this. I knew I didn’t have the time or the resources while still in graduate school to pursue a training program in yoga therapy, but that didn’t stop me from researching the different methods and programs available.
Two years after I finished graduate classes and one year after I completed my
thesis, I began the Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy training. This distinct form of yoga therapy appealed to me for many reasons: I liked the one
on one structure of the session. I was interested in how it combined elements of mind-body psychology with yoga. I love how client-centered it is. I appreciate how the focus on client-centered techniques doesn’t override the necessity and importance of the practitioner’s self-care. After all, if you aren’t taking care of your own mind and body, how can you be fully present for your clients?
My training in both dance/movement therapy and Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy has
been intense. It has required a lot of introspection, reflection, study and practice.
It has been well worth the effort, though I will never be ‘finished’ learning and applying new information and techniques to my practices. I have found these unique and inspiring
modalities extraordinarily fruitful for myself and have observed the differences they have made in others’ lives. I am endlessly inspired by every client and situation I encounter and look forward to new challenges and helping others find their voice through physical
expression and body awareness. My passion is sharing this work, and I hope I have the opportunity to do so with you one day.