All my life I have been a body person. I think before I could speak, my body was already expressing itself. I am sure this is a familiar story to many of you.
I was dancing by age 3 and eventually became a serious dancer exploring modern dance, african and ballet. The world of dance was home...for awhile. It satiated my desire to speak through, and use, my body. I attended Skidmore College where I got my BA in dance and sociology and was a member of the dance company. I followed the path as a dancer landing to New York after college and danced at the Alvin Ailey school and also a modern dance company. The world of dance taught me to master my body and express my soul, but I was untethered a bit. I did not have any tools for guidance through stressful or emotional times. I only knew to dance. I felt like I needed more...
After several years of dancing in New York I decided to take a yoga class at the Sivananda Center. The simplicity of the practice (show up, breathe, empty, focus) captured my attention. This was a revolutionary new approach to my body and it touched me deeply. I felt moved to do my karma yoga (yoga of service) in 2000 where I went to South Africa and Tonga with the Peace Corps. I taught yoga to children and women's groups as part of empowering disempowered communities. When I returned in 2002 I got certified to teach yoga through Yoga Synthesis with Raji Thron and have been teaching ever since. I have been deeply influenced by years of an Ashtanga practice and the styles of Jivamukti and Laughing Lotus. I have had the honor to study with mentors like Richard Freeman, David Swenson, Anna Forest and Steph Snyder.
The natural progression of teaching yoga and exploring the body brought me to Somatic Psychology. I attended the MA program at the California Institute of Integral Studies in 2006 and have been a licensed MFT since 2013. I feel deeply blessed to have found work that resonates so perfectly with my belief in the intelligence of the body.
When I was younger i really didn't see myself as a big person or a sturdy person. As a ballet dancer I saw myself as graceful, delicate, polished. As a climber I get to experience myself as STRONG, wild, athletic, badass, fearful, fearless. When I discovered rock climbing it provided me with this venue to still dance, only this time with the rockwall. Climbing can be sensual, aggressive, tender, precise etc. It is a tango, not gripping or grabbing but placing and caressing. It is a chance to roar when the time is right and stretch into the perfect graceful line. But it is more for me, it incorporates the meditational aspects of yoga; breath, single point focus, mastery over distraction, confronting discomfort and being ok with it. I remember once I was climbing and very scared and my climbing partner said to me, "Ariel, the only thing to fear is fear itself". This is true. Either as a somatic practitioner, a yogi, a quaker, or a climber, I seek to master the fear of the fear and just be able to be with the fear itself. On the other side is EXCITEMENT, and FUN!
My classes are creative; a “freestyle” vinyasa flow. They are greatly informed by my many years as a dancer and my ongoing work as a somatic, body-oriented, psychotherapist and a rock climber. I always hold the connection between the psyche, structural health, longevity of the practice. And, we have fun! There is plenty of room for laughter and joy in the practice of meditation and yoga.