How long have you been teaching kids yoga and mindfulness? What inspired you to get started?
I started studying yoga/mindfulness in 2009 at the time I began working as a research consultant and program evaluator for Joanne Spence at Yoga in Schools (Pittsburgh, PA). It was Joanne who convinced me that my own passion for social justice was supported by programs of whole child wellness.
I am a Professor of Educational Studies at Western Illinois University, teaching courses in social foundations of education, policy, law and philosophy and qualitative research. I work mostly with graduate students who are teaching and conducting research in schools, but also with pre-service teachers. This year, I am teaching a face-to-face Mindfulness Fundamentals course to undergraduates. Along with Dr. Lindsay Meeker, I present workshops to local teachers on yoga-based mindfulness techniques for the classroom.
I see yoga and mindfulness as fundamentally empowering. I have written about these practices as being a prerequisite for effective social action. Practically speaking, there is no point in attempting to teach or learn before bodies and brains are in a state of calm readiness. Yoga and mindfulness practices help us get to that state.
Tell us about that one pivotal experience—the student, class or moment—that keeps you going even when your work gets challenging.
Without fail, my college students send me notes, emails, and evaluation comments that thank me for introducing them to yoga/mindfulness, which has helped them personally. In response to this, I weep with joy several times a semester.
The unfolding of space and time. We are conditioned to feel rushed and closed in. Yoga and mindfulness makes me feel expansive and free with all the time I need.
What are your hobbies, outside of yoga (of course!)
My husband and I visit the national parks as much as we can, but traveling in general is our passion. We also love to watch PBS documentaries and I love Masterpiece theater and British murder mysteries. I love to take walks in our local parks with friends or alone. I should have started by saying I love spending time with our cats. I am grateful for this everyday!