My first experience with Yoga was in 1998/99 in the form of a Vinyasa practice session on a VHS tape. A few good friends had seen how stressed out I was becoming from my reactions to my work environment at the time and suggested Yoga. If I remember correctly…I found the tape one night when I came home from work, with a post-it note stuck to it that had the words “watch this” written on it.
And so I did…I was hooked and began practicing Vinyasa regularly until the summer of 2000, when I met Jonny Kest and was introduced to Ashtanga and began practicing both Ashtanga and Vinyasa 2 to 4 hours daily. I sustained this intense practice regimen until mid 2003, when I opened DY (having to allocate more time to other duties).
From my very first experiences/months with Yoga, the gross physical benefits were obvious, such as improved posture, strength, flexibility and concentration. However, some of the more subtle physical benefits took many years to realize, like enhanced respiration, digestion, and elimination, resulting in less sickness and more energy. In addition to the physical improvements, my mind began to change as well…being able to slow down and focus more, identify and remove negative habits of thought, and stay calm and breathe well in difficult situations.
Patience. Over the last 16 years many challenges have come in and out of my life…illness, injury, loss…the same types of things all of us go through. Throughout all of my tests and trials, I have maintained my Yogasana practice…however, it has never stayed the same. Sometimes very fluid, strong, and light as a feather, other times…heavy, slow, tight and seemingly crippled. It has all been growth…I have achieved much higher levels of patience, as well being extremely accepting of how things are at the time. Patience and persistence conquer all obstacles. It is amazing what can be learned from moving the body through the same (seemingly) movements and postures year after year. The physical practice maintained over the years has had more positive impact on my head and my heart than anything else.
Thank you to my students…past and present…they are the reason I never quit and have learned so many valuable lessons as a result. I hope to share everything I have learned.
In the fall of 2000 I began teaching Ashtanga and Vinyasa yoga full time at various gyms and health clubs around Metro Detroit, as well as Jonny Kest's Center for Yoga. In the spring of 2002 I began practicing Zen Martial Arts with Sifu Robert Brown and in the fall of 2009, began studying Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with Sifu Brown and Sensai Ryan Fiorenzi.
The Yoga style that I practice and teach is Ashtanga / Vinyasa based, and strongly influenced by his Martial Arts training. That said...you won't see any punches or kicks in DY classes, as I don't believe that is the place to learn those movements and techniques safely. When I say that my Yoga is influenced by Martial Arts, I mean the discipline, fluidity, and dynamism of the combinations of movements and postures. This high level of adaptation, creativity, and presence found in Martial Arts is what I try to bring to my students and incorporates into DY classes.
In short…I have been practicing Ashtanga and Vinyasa Yogasana and meditation consistently as my primary discipline for over 16 years, as well as mixed martial arts as my secondary discipline for over 10 years. I began teaching Yogasana full time in the fall of 2000 and opened DY Royal Oak in the fall of 2003, and have since opened DY locations in Corktown, Ann Arbor, and Capitol Park. At the end of 2015 I decided to simplify and revert back to just one location...DY Royal Oak. In the last 15 years of teaching I have accumulated over 15,000 hours of classroom teaching experience and have had the good fortune of working with all types of people...from 5-year-olds to 80...from very fit and healthy to individuals plagued with cancer. They have taught me just as much, if not more than I have ever taught them. Thank you.