Recreation

Our Staff

MSAStaffMindfulness Team

UW Recreation’s Mindfulness Programs are run by the Mindfulness Manager and a team of Mindfulness Student Assistants. In addition, our classes would not be possible without the continued dedication of all of our instructors (pictured below, for more details on each instructor continue scrolling down).

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Get to know our instructors by reading their answers to the following six questions:
  1. What first motivated you to start yoga/meditation? Why do you continue to come back to your practice?
  2. What is one way you incorporate mindfulness into your daily life outside of teaching?
  3. What is one quote that inspires you?
  4. What advice would you give people who have never tried yoga/meditation?
  5. What are three elements that make your class your own unique offering?
  6. What animal represents you and why?

Instructors

Abigail C.

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  1. I began practicing yoga 17 years ago when I was training on the U.S. Rowing National Team. What I didn’t realize is that it would offer me so much more than physical exertion. Grounding, quiet, a place and a space to meditate and go inside myself while still providing physical strength, health, and flexibility.
  2. Breathing. When I breathe with full consciousness and intention, I am present wherever I am: on my feet, in a chair, driving, even in the middle of a trial.
  3. “Life is always in progress.” – Unknown
  4. Don’t think too much about it. Just try it.
  5. I like the notion of Empowerment Yoga – my class is vigorous, but there is always an opportunity to adjust, rest, and I encourage students to make the class their own by listening to their own bodies.
  6. Dolphin. I was meant to be in the water, yet breathe air.

Alyssa P.

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  1. What first motivated me was fitness (external), but what keeps me coming back is the connection with my internal self and spirit as it is ever changing and simultaneously staying the same.
  2. I have a regular meditation practice and intentionally bring mindfulness into my daily jog and every time I walk.
  3. “Home is a place we all must find, it’s not just a place where you eat or sleep. Home is knowing. Knowing your mind, knowing your heart, knowing your courage. If we know ourselves, we are home, anywhere.” – Glenda the Good Witch
  4. It’s not about what the pose looks like, it is about how it feels. Focus on your breath. Don’t fixate on what yoga is “supposed to be”, let it be what it is.
  5. Observation of self, compassion for oneself (and therefore others), and self-reflection.
  6. Birds; specifically black birds (I have them tattooed all over). I take leaps of faith much like how when a bird knows that it is time, they fly I connect with how they are individuals but are never too far from “their” birds, alerting and supporting each other (song, support, danger, love). We both love being in the sun.

Ansley S.

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  1. My first encounter with yoga and meditation came randomly from invitations extended by strangers. Curiosity was my driving motivation, which grew into a healthy domino effect. I continuously come back to remind myself to keep it real and look for beauty everywhere.
  2. I take time to notice the sky, plants, and creatures which remind me of my own essential nature and support me to click my brain back into the mindfulness groove.
  3. “Don’t sweat the petty things and don’t pet the sweating things.” – George Carlin
  4. Honor your trepidation and welcome the journey! The head space of a beginner is full of potential and it’s a space which would benefit many practitioners to recreate at the beginning of each practice! You’re ahead of the game already.
  5. I offer myself as a reflection of the collection of unique experiences that have shaped my practice. I seek balance between offering a class that is challenging and simple while sharing insights from the art and science of yoga. I encourage a heartfelt attitude and giggles.
  6. Humans are 100% animal! Nothing represents me better than what I already am: a human animal.

Danae D.

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  1. I love to move in challenging and expressive ways. I love to dance but when I couldn’t find any good adult dance classes yoga seemed like the next best thing. Over time I started to recognize some unexpected (but thoroughly welcomed) side effects like patience with myself and my family,  subconscious use of my breath to manage anxiety, and I experienced more joy and peace. Those reasons are why I continue to practice today!
  2. Taking a moment to pause and check in with my breath, body, and emotions. It is almost like hitting a reset button. It helps me gain perspective, clarity, and patience.
  3. Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky is by no means a waste of time.” – John Lubbock
  4. The goals of yoga and meditation are not to turn yourself into a pretzel or be able to silence your mind. The goal, as I see it, is to observe yourself just as you are in this moment and to do so without judgement or expectation. You’ll be surprised at how quickly this practice becomes a habit and how much it feels like a homecoming.
  5. “Start where you are.” I create a space for everyone to move and explore based on where they are today, without comparing themselves to others or even to a past or future version of themselves. “Do what feels good.” There are alignment principles that we emphasize in yoga to avoid injury but at the end of the day it’s all about you and your body. Each movement, breath, and intention should center on what feels right for you today. “Balancing effort and ease.” Even a pose that is very difficult can be executed with ease and a pose that is very simple can be enhanced with the right effort. Balancing these two forces allows us to feel relaxed in a stressful situation or to bring vitality into an aspect of our life that needs to be woken up.
  6. I love the story my dad used to tell me about moths when I was growing up: they carry the wisdom of the universe in the dust on their wings. I have had an affinity for moths ever since. I don’t have wings, or dust for that matter, but I do believe that we all carry a powerful wisdom deep within us and I am always trying to tap into mine.

Danny A.

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  1. I started yoga because I didn’t love going to the gym and felt very disconnected form my body. I come back because I feel recalibrated in my body, more spacious in my mind, and much more connected to my heart.
  2. I take time in the morning to move more slowly and create a more spacious start to my day, which impacts everything that comes next.
  3. “The unexamined life is not worth living.” – Socrates
  4. Move how your unique body moves, take your time (remember you are learning something new), know that especially meditation is not about stilling or quieting your body or mind (it’s more about creating space and choosing consciously when to move and not move).
  5. I sequence intelligently to support the physical body, I use my creativity to cultivate an experience that celebrates the body, breath, mind, and heart, and I at times I will weave in a bit of silly (there are plenty of other places to be serious in life).
  6. I’ve always loved eagles and hawks. It’s the combination of their graceful flight, being up high and having perspective, and their ability to use their immense vision to skillfully maneuver the landscape. Many valuable life metaphors all in one place.

Kai-Bin O.

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  1. I became interested in yoga because it is a practice that is challenging both physically and mentally. It is a very intentional practice that is also creative and inviting. After I quit playing D1 soccer, yoga became my new outlet. I choose to continue my practice because it offers time for self-care, as well the chance to reset and refocus my energy.
  2. I believe mindfulness is incorporated in how I choose to treat myself and others. By choosing to acknowledge and accept how I am in the present moment, I can make thoughtful decisions moving forward.
  3. “I wish to live a life that causes my soul to dance inside my body” – Dele Olanubi
  4. Approach it with an open mind, take what sticks and leave the rest! Yoga is a great practice to make your own, and over time you will learn to express yourself in your practice by listening to what your body needs. Just be patient with your self and great things will come.
  5. I create an inclusive and safe space, an escape from other worries and responsibilities, and a place to have fun while moving the body in a physical and strong way.
  6. Elephant represents me because they are full of energy and spirit, while maintaining a sense of calmness and compassion. Elephants are also intelligent and intentional in their decision making in order to do what is best for their families.

Mandy M.

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  1. A friend recommended it, because it feels good and is both exercise and relaxation at once. I couldn’t understand what she meant so I had to check it out. It was love at first pose, and practice only got sweeter with every new day.
  2. I take extra deep breaths to remember my calm center doing mundane things — waiting for stoplights, washing dishes, or brushing my teeth.
  3. “The day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” – Anais Nin
  4. Many people tell me they can’t do yoga because they aren’t flexible, and they can’t meditate because their mind is too busy. These practices are for everyone, and are especially good for those tuned in enough to know their bodies are stiff and their minds are wild.
  5. I like to be creative with my sequencing, true to my goal for the class’s experience, and meet the needs of everyone in the room, providing a fully immersed experience.
  6. Wolf — because wolf is happy to roam solo or play with the pack.

Marvin M.

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  1. I initially started doing yoga to rehabilitate from a running injury; it helped with building my strength and flexibility. Over the years, yoga has moved past the physical benefits. I use it as my time for self-exploration and growth, and to feel connected with myself and my community.
  2. I stop and take a moment to breathe when I feel like things are not under my control.
  3. “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?” – RuPaul
  4. Allow yourself to be vulnerable, believe in yourself, and trust the process.
  5. Fun, thoughtful, and challenging.
  6. I feel like I’m a cross between an elephant and peacock. I am strong and compassionate like an elephant, and graceful and majestic like a peacock.

Michael G.

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  1. I started yoga & meditation when I was a senior in college. As a music student, I was burnt out from the pressures of school, so I started practicing as part of a broader inquiry into health & wellness, fitness, and personal transformation. Health & wellness continues to be a big motivator in my life. I feel like the world has no boundaries when I take care of myself.
  2. I have a daily meditation practice.
  3. “When we seek to discover the best in others, we somehow bring out the best in ourselves.” – William Arthur Ward
  4. The benefits of yoga and meditation can only be appreciated through intention and experience. Whether you are looking for ways to improve your overall health and fitness, your self awareness, or your ability to manage the stresses of daily life, yoga and meditation can help. Try it — give it a chance — see what two months of consistent practice can do for you.
  5. I strive to teach yoga to each person as I get to know their abilities and limitations. I am always inspired to see how each student develops over time, be it a single quarter, a year, or more. I have been teaching yoga at the UW for 14 years and enjoy supporting everyone to learn, experience and appreciate yoga practice through progressive instruction. I teach not only the aspects of traditional yoga poses, but also preliminary and transitional movements that can be used to make each pose more accessible and enjoyable.
  6. I’m going to say a wolf. I grew up with dogs so I’ve always felt this affinity where dogs are concerned. But I like the image of the wolf, which is more-or-less the non-domesticated version — living in Nature, and somehow very smart, resourceful and powerful.

Sally F.

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  1. I was motivated to start yoga to have time and space for myself; to help a chronic old dance injury; and to get exercise. My practice has gradually evolved over the span of nearly 15 years. When I’m on the mat it has always felt like coming home and it has become a moving meditation. The experience of internal discovery and exploration and mindful connection helps shape my life off the mat and keeps me coming back. I love yoga!
  2. When I first wake up in the morning I take 30 seconds or a minute or two to notice how I’m feeling physically, energetically, take note of my mood, and how active my mind is. If it’s one of those days when my mind is already racing or if I feel out of sorts, I have a chance to breathe more deeply and gently and decide where to direct my attention. If I wake up feeling rested, grounded, lighthearted…I can savor those feelings.
  3. “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” – Aesop
  4. Breathe: whether you are moving or still, slow down your breath and practice breathing with awareness and no matter what you do, you will receive benefits. Listen and trust your body: everything is optional, so feel empowered to make choices that feel good and nourishing to your body–no need to force anything or think that you need to look or be any particular way. Get curious and test things out: what does it feel like to breathe, to be in a certain shape, to take a variation of a shape, to use a prop…?
  5. They are welcoming and teach from a place of openness and empathy. I make an effort to balance the needs of the whole class and see each individual in a way that fosters community and connection. I use language in a mindful way to encourage inclusiveness and exploration.
  6. I am drawn to the peaceful nature of both butterflies and panda bears. I love the colorfulness and lightness of butterflies — and that they embody transformation and I love equally the cozy softness and weight of a panda. How amazing would it be to peacefully fly through warm air here and there like a jewel landing on fruits and flowers — or to be enveloped in such soft, warm fur!

Sam C.

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  1. My brother dragged me along to an acroyoga class three years ago, and I ended up loving it. It gives me all the physical joy of gymnastics, but doesn’t take the same toll on my body. I love acro now for the mental and physical puzzles, for the opportunities to become a better communicator with my partners, for the community, for the ability to move my body in novel ways, and for the platonic touch.
  2. Meditation.
  3. “Seeking what is true is not seeking what is desirable.” -Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays
  4. It’s not as hard as it looks, so don’t be afraid to try. Communicate in a way that seeks solutions rather than places blame. Always make sure the spotter knows what the plan is before you start.
  5. You’ll get to work with partners. You’ll get to move in ways you didn’t think you could. You’ll learn how to keep yourself and others safe while moving off the ground.
  6. Baby elephants, because they’re lovely and awkward, just like me. I also hear we both have great memories.

Sasha P.

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  1. I’ve been a dancer my whole life, but at some point I felt that I needed to do a different type of movement practice. I quickly discovered the meditative benefits – better focus, less stress and other significant changes of mindfulness. The meditative aspect of mindful movement is what inspires me to come back to my practice.
  2. I practice sitting meditation almost every day, and often practice bringing elements of mindfulness to many everyday activities and challenging situations.
  3. “Happiness lies not in looking for what’s missing, but in seeing what is present.” – Tara Brach
  4. Be open to trying different styles, and different teachers, and trust what you are drawn to. I also recommend that one practices at least two to three times a week when first starting out, in order to experience the benefits a consistent practice.
  5. My class is oriented towards creating a space where students can challenge themselves, and have a positive experience integrating mind and body. I focus on the breath, physical challenges, and opportunities to practice mindfulness.
  6. I relate to the Alaskan Malamute, because it’s a working dog, which means it’s happiest when feeling useful, active and productive, but they also strongly connect with people.

Trent N.

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  1. I first tried yoga on a whim through the UW Mindfulness Project during my sophomore year of college. I had been going through a lot of changes and I’d heard so much about yoga, so I wanted to see what it had to offer. Going to my first yoga class was one of the most impactful decisions of my life. Every time I walk off my mat, it leaves me with a feeling of power and stability that I am unable to find anywhere else.
  2. I maintain a daily meditation practice and I try to make it onto my yoga mat as much as I can.
  3. “There is more reason in your body than in your best wisdom.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
  4. Try it! We live in an accelerating world, and yoga and meditation gives you the mental, physical, and emotional tools you need to thrive at this speed. There are a lot of stereotypes around yoga and meditation. Forget them. Observe how they impact you, and you may be surprised.
  5. I teach directly from my experiences on the mat. I’ve spent a lot of time developing my practice, so I incorporate cues in my teaching that I personally find helpful for moving into poses.  I take notice of students’ practices and give cues in a specific manner to help students with alignment. I create a a fun and warm atmosphere, by not taking myself or the class too seriously.
  6. A bear. Bears are pretty solitary animals, and independence is one of my most important values. In addition, most people do not know that bears can get up to 90% of their diet from plant-based foods. I really admire this, considering they are one of the most powerful animals that exist in nature, thus I try balance maintaining my strength with minimizing my impact on the environment.

Valentina K.

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  1. COMING SOON…

Vanessa M.

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  1. I found yoga when I was working in local television news. Much of my day was filled with telling sad or alarming stories involving crime and the justice system. Yoga became a lens through which I could see the world as an interconnected web and empowered me to become my best self as part of that web. Yoga remains my pathway to skillful engagement with the world around me and has given me the gift of consciously crafting the way I respond to the wide variety of experiences life has to offer.
  2. I set aside five to fifteen minutes every morning (before checking email or turning on the television) to read from one of my favorite yoga books or to meditate and create a list of things and people for which I’m grateful. I’ve found it really sets a positive tone for the rest of the day.
  3. “Measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes or failures.” – Elizabeth Gilbert
  4. Begin with exactly the body and the mind that you have. Don’t wait for what you imagine a “yogi” has or is. Be you and begin today.
  5. I carefully select playlists to reflect a theme or the arc of the class I’m teaching. I use accessible language so taking my class is comfortable for those who have never practiced yoga or heard Sanskrit before.
  6. I love butterflies and have always been drawn to them in nature. I love the concept of metamorphosis, as yoga continuously offers the ability to transform my mind and body. I strive to be a bright and uplifting presence in peoples’ lives – the way I feel when I see a butterfly.

Yeji K.

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  1. COMING SOON…