A: I always knew I loved yoga. I had been looking for the yoga I loved throughout the 70s and 80s. In 1986, a friend invited me to attend a class in the new TriYoga Center in Santa Cruz. It was not Kaliji who taught the class but I thought that the teachers were very nice and the center offered regular classes. Although the classes were challenging for me, I always felt better afterwards.
The same year (1986) I started chiropractic school. It required a lot of my time; I studied constantly. Many people could hardly bear the stress of the program. Each day I practiced meditation in the morning and attended the evening class at the TriYoga Center.
Q: Every single day?
A: I would say almost every day. As soon as the school day was over, I would go to do yoga. The other students at school knew I loved it. I could not say that I practiced TriYoga at that time with full dedication, as I had to devote almost all my time and attention to my chiropractic education. After three intense years, I graduated and passed the board exams. I was finally a licensed chiropractor. Soon, I was ready to dedicate more time to TriYoga.
Q: What about Kaliji? Did you feel something special about her the very first time you met her?
A: I came to understand who Kaliji is and how great TriYoga is gradually. It is not the story where one meets the teacher and falls in love immediately. The more I practiced TriYoga the more I appreciated its uniqueness. As for Kaliji, it was around 1989 when I began to understand a little. I went to a class that she taught and after the class she came up to talk with me and suddenly I felt the energy, love and warmth. I reached out, touching the air around her and felt this amazing force that was around her. “What is this? What is this?” I kept asking. She laughed and replied: “That is what it is all about.” After that, when I saw her, my heart felt her presence. I could have conflicts in my mind, but my heart was consistently clear. I felt love. Kaliji opened my heart. This is the greatest gift.
Q: Then you wanted to become a teacher?
A: No, I did not. I used to be a teacher for a long time. I taught junior and high school in Santa Cruz. I stopped teaching in 1986, when I started chiropractic college. Then I started teaching human anatomy at Cabrillo College in 1990, so I didn’t want to teach yoga, too.
Q: You mean you taught human anatomy on the college level?
A: Yes, for ten years, part time.
Q: And before becoming a chiropractor, you were a teacher. What was your education for that?
A: I have been learning all my life (smile). First I received a bachelor of science degree with a major in biology from Simmons College in Boston. Then, a master’s degree in teaching/education from Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA; Then, a doctor of chiropractic degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic-West in Sunnyvale area. The chiropractic education was the most challenging.
Q: That’s impressive. How did you start to attend TriYoga Teacher Trainings?
A: I have always loved to learn. So it was natural for me to attend teacher trainings to deepen my practice. I was doing it for a while without thinking of becoming a TriYoga teacher.
Q: What happened that changed your mind?
A: One morning, I think it was in 1993, around my birthday, I woke up with the full-blown desire to become a TriYoga teacher. I am sure it was Kaliji’s inspiration coming through.
Q: Did you study only with Kaliji?
A: No, not only. I took classes from all the teachers at the center and I studied a lot with Lynne Andrews (now Chandra), who was one of the first teachers certified by Kaliji. She used to live in Santa Cruz and she was the Natural Alignment teacher. I asked Kaliji if it was OK for me to study with Lynne. Kaliji said, “Yes.” I worked with Lynne on a weekly basis for about nine months. We had classes and I would record one season and then study during the week, and teach that season the following week. I also taped many teacher trainings with Kaliji. Sometimes I stayed up until 2 or 3 am transcribing the recordings to learn. I would study the alignments, integrating everything deeply into my body and mind. Lynne was good for me to work with as she gave hands-on alignment assistance and gave me a lot of individual attention. We both loved TriYoga and loved discussing it. I am a kinesthetic person and it was difficult for me to transfer visuals or words into my body. Of course, after years of practice and teaching, this changed, but back then…. a teacher would say an alignment and move on while I was still pondering over the first words. Or they would demonstrate something, and I could not understand what they were showing.
Q: How long did it take you to get certified?
A: While working with Lynn every week, I think I got certified in Level 1 and Level 2 in about nine months. (I was able to apply what I had learned over the years as well.) Of course, I began to attend many, many classes, teacher trainings and other programs with Kaliji. I used to ask her so many questions. She was and is so patient; She would answer every question that I had. Also, her classes were so much fun. She had us laughing a lot. Kaliji and her inspiration taught me everything that I know and share.
Q: Was it easy for you to incorporate the knowledge of a chiropractor into teaching TriYoga to others?
A: It was Kaliji who taught me anatomy as it applies to yoga. Yes, I had the academic knowledge, but she has the inner, true knowledge of the body. It was she who helped me to make anatomy more practical, more applied to TriYoga. She instilled it in my body, not just my mind. I took what she taught me and thought about it deeply and then integrated it with my anatomy background.
Q: Has your appreciation of TriYoga evolved over the years?
A: Yes, of course it has. Especially when I started to teach. The more I worked closely with Kaliji and taught TriYoga, the more I came to understand the uniqueness of TriYoga and all it has to offer. I came to fully appreciate the systematic approach. It is amazing how people change over time as they practice it. I understood how therapeutic and balanced TriYoga is on every level. I felt the healing power of the spinal wave and the focus on the breath. Not only for the body but also for the mind. I saw how TriYoga sadhana (practice) releases stress and brings us to a relaxed, energized and more aware state. Besides teaching, my personal practice deepened and became meditative. At the beginning, the words “When the body, breath and mudra harmonize, the prana flows, the inner flow emerges” were just words for me. But over time it became reality. I learned a lot from the flow itself. The flow truly guides you. Your body, mind, energy know what is right, they recognize how to move from the place deep inside. First one learns from the outside in, and then one also learns from the inside out. Since it became my personal experience, I teach from this deep place of conviction.
My appreciation and gratitude grew when I began to experience the depth of TriYoga and all that Kaliji offers. From an overwhelming sense of gratitude, I asked Kaliji to be my Guru in 1995. I embraced prana vidya, mudras, chanting, the vegan diet, Sanskrit, and yoga philosophy. I love being in the presence of Sri Swamiji and feeling the presence of Sri Mata Jayalakshmi. Most of all I appreciate and love Sri Kaliji, her presence and her example, her guidance, and the miracles that surround her. She has brought out the best in me, helped me to be expansive and in the flow. She has shaped my life. And I know that the learning and growth will continue always.
Q: What is your prime aim as a TriYoga teacher?
A: To help the students to experience the TriYoga Flows deeply inside. When I teach teachers, I help them to deepen what they have already learned. I try to share as much as I can about the flows, prana vidya, methodology and practicum. I may hear Kaliji say something unique, what other people have not had a chance to hear, and I pass this on. I share what I learned from Kaliji, from her example, from classes with her, from her lessons with me. I can never separate Kaliji’s presence and TriYoga. She transformed my life and helped me find calmness and peace, to relate better with others. And of course, my knowledge as a TriYoga teacher comes from her. I share the immense gratitude that I feel for TriYoga and Kaliji.
For me, teaching TriYoga is about learning and sharing. If I happen to have knowledge and love, and I do not share it, what is the value of it? It is a joy to witness others heal and change their lives for the better. I am so grateful that I can be a link in the ever-expanding circle of those who bring Kaliji’s great gift of TriYoga to others.