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Recreation

Our Staff

MSAStaffMindfulness Team

UW Recreation’s Mindfulness Programs are run by the Mindfulness Manager (Danny, center) and a team of Mindfulness Student Assistants (from upper left to right; Kady, Emerson, Kana, bottom; Claira, Kyle, Lauren, not pictured; Corbin and Roger). 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?

Active Instructors Autumn 2017

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.

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.

Delaney D.

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  1. I fell in love with yoga when I began practicing with my mom at 14. The practice makes me feel centered with myself and so capable so I love sharing it with the world.
  2. I practice essential oils both during my practice and in my daily life.
  3. “May I live like the lotus at ease in muddy water.” – Unknown
  4. Dive right in! Challenge yourself and give yourself grace in the practice.
  5. Detail oriented. I drive my class by using breath to initiate movement. I heavily emphasize the importance of a spacious relaxation.
  6. Hummingbird- I am extremely active and I am always moving, thinking, and traveling.

Jade S.

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  1. I started practicing yoga in high school out of curiosity with my friends. I used to dance and I knew yoga was somewhat similar in nature. After my first class, I loved how in tune I felt with my body. As I continued to practice, I noticed how blissful I felt after each class, regardless of how tired or stressed I was when I walked in. I continue to come back to my mat because it is a way for me to let go and re-center myself. Yoga and meditation practices teach me how to cope with everyday challenges on and off the mat.
  2. First and foremost, I BREATHE. Seems easy, but at times when I am stressed or anxious, I struggle to stay calm. When I am able to sit back and take a few deep breaths, I notice how my perspective starts to shift and I am better address the situation at hand. Also, I take several stretch breaks throughout the day.
  3. “Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything – anger, anxiety, or possessions – we cannot be free.” – Thích Nhất Hạnh
  4. Get out there and do it! Yoga is simply a way to connect your mind with your body and breath, whatever that means to you. Whether you are able to do a more rigorous posture right away or you hang out in child pose and rest, you are practicing yoga just the way you are meant to.
  5. I love to teach movement with constant flow and emphasis on the breath. I encourage my students to make this practice solely their own. I offer lots of posture options  that allow students to express themselves and explore their power. I also love music and my playlists often include anything from soothing ocean sounds to hip hop.
  6. I’d be a dolphin. Dolphins love to go with the flow. They embrace the power of the ocean and the warmth of the sunshine.

Jaime W.

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  1. I was looking for a way to relax, but it soon turned into a way to exercise and be part of a community.
  2. I incorporate my yoga practice into everything I do. Creating flexibility on the mat has translated into rock climbing, bike riding, and running. Furthermore, the idea of pausing has really helped me find my way when I am lost in the woods during a race, digressing in a paper, and in the general let down that are inherent with being human.
  3. “I would rather be disenchanted than enchanted with crap.” – Steve Jenkins
  4. Try all sorts of styles of yoga to figure out what you like. Know that what you like now will change over time. Look for teachers that act in alignment with the teachings that you value. It’s not enough to just look pretty in poses, seek out teachers who inspire you with what they do when they are living their lives off of the mat.
  5. Quite, skill, and perseverance.
  6. A human animal, because I am doing my best to be a good creature, even though I will say things that rock the boat.

Jenny C.

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  1. My yoga journey began in 2007, but really took off in 2012 when my husband was deployed as a Marine. During that time, practicing yoga offered a calming and grounding experience, which I continue to enjoy (especially while handling the challenges of grad school!). I also view yoga as a great cross-training practice for the other activities that I enjoy, including running and skiing.
  2. Being aware of my breathing.
  3. “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  4. You don’t have to be flexible. You don’t have to go into any crazy bendy poses. Yoga practice is for you and it’s a great way to relax and cross-train for other activities that you may enjoy.
  5. I structure my classes in an intelligently sequenced way, I offer posture options to poses so that everyone can listen to their own needs, and I enjoy weaving in a little bit of optional challenge into the practice.
  6. Otters. They love the water and in the winter they’ll play on the snow!

Jennifer K.

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  1. I grew up playing sports but always skipped the stretching. When I graduated college I thought I’d give yoga a try. It took me a year of practicing every single day before I was even able to touch my toes. Where I lacked flexibility, I relied on strength and the determination to keep trying. The changes I recognized in my body were coupled with the changes in my mind, behavior, and how I handled stress. I enjoy the challenge of yoga and the idea that unlike other exercise, there is no finish line or ultimate goal. Yoga is a part of my everyday.
  2. Yoga has taught me patience and the ability to pause and take a breath before responding.
  3. “Give 100% to everything you do.” – My Mom
  4. Yoga may seem like a foreign language, but so much of it has influenced sports, exercise, and the other activities we already do. The difference is recognizing the similarities and bringing more thoughtfulness and purpose to the movements.
  5. Full Body engagement, challenge, and laughter.
  6. Pacific Gumboot Chiton – pretty weird, but powerful.

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.

Sarah B.

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  1. I first started practicing yoga for the physical benefits of increased flexibility and strength. I continue to come back to practice because regular practice helps me to reduce stress, makes me feel calmer, and helps me to maintain physical balance.
  2. Outside of teaching, I have a personal meditation and yoga practice and I practice mindfulness everyday when I’m driving, particularly in traffic, and when working with patients in acupuncture clinic.
  3. “We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” -Joseph Campbell
  4. If you’re nervous about coming to class for the first time, remember that everyone is new at some point and it is important to be patient and compassionate with yourself as you are starting. Don’t worry about being perfect – practicing yoga and mediation is an ongoing practice and it can be fun to try a few different teachers or styles to find something that truly works for you.
  5. I create a space where students can tune into their physical experience and mental experience during class. I encourage students to explore different posture options and use the breath to feel more tuned into their bodies.
  6. Coming soon…

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.

 

Substitute Instructors

Gabby R.

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  1. I had always had a yearning to try yoga and once I finally decided experienced it I never stopped. What draws me to the mat over and over again is the fascinating combination of the body, mind and awareness, and sweat. I am always amazed how a simple meditation at the beginning of class can launch my body into mindful movement, strength training and a more spacious and calmer brain by the end of each class.
  2. I slow down and engage in intentional eye contact.
  3. “Peace cannot be achieved by force, only by understanding.” – Albert Einstein
  4. You never know until you try, and sometimes with yoga, you may need to try a few times. It’s a worthy experiment.
  5. I sync up body movements with the breath, I encourage students to ask questions so they can make the practice theirs and I bring a unique flow to each class  based on who and what shows up each day.
  6. A cat represents me. I love to nap like a cat, especially on a warm sunny afternoon. I also love to stretch like a cat and enjoy the benefits of being bouncy and playful and yet quiet.

Katherine B.

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  1. I started practicing in my backyard growing up in sunny San Diego, trying to emulate the postures shown from page to page with curiousity and confusion. I always came in and out of practicing for years, but found a regular practice in college after an accident left me with serious anxiety and PTSD and my doctor suggested committing to yoga. To this day, yoga and intentional breathing have been my rock no matter what is going on in my life.
  2. The focus I learn in intense yoga poses helps me focus on big tasks, my breathing keeps me calm in times of stress, and I have learned to laugh at myself when I make mistakes and move forward. I incorporate intentional speaking and thought with how I go about life instead of making rash decisions that will affect me in the long run.
  3. “You are either now, here, or nowhere.” – Baron Baptiste
  4. Don’t let what other people do in class effect your desire to try yoga, just focus on breathing and moving and listening to the teacher. You can adjust ANY posture if it doesn’t feel good in your body, you can even lay on your back breathing the whole time if you need to. Know that everyone can do yoga of some form, try out different types!
  5. Unique hand-crafted playlists with all genres of music, varying options for any level of practioner, and providing something unique to every class.
  6. A dog. I’m fiercely loyal, love being active and being around others, and adore naps in the sun. I am also highly motivated by food and treats, will do tricks for chocolate.