I began my yoga practice over 13 years ago when I recognized that my battle with anxiety, insomnia and depression was endangering my life. A glance at my life and curriculum vitae would have suggested that I was pretty put together: I had travelled and conducted research in Israel and the Palestinian territories as an undergraduate, studied at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, lived in Egypt, and was attending graduate school at the University of Chicago. In my head and in my relationships, however, I was a total mess. After a particularly bad night of unrest and suicidal ideation, I called a friend who insisted I “do yoga or something” to help my state of health and state of mind.

Ashamed that I couldn’t simply think my way out of my predicament, I went to an introduction to yoga class. Reluctantly. I told myself that I was doing it out of an intellectual curiosity because I was a religious scholar. True, but… obviously not the whole story. And no, I wouldn’t say that I had some epiphany after my first downward dog, but I did get a hint that moving my body (which had been growing more accustomed to sitting in chairs and at desks reading and writing) could be good for my mental state. I slept better that night than I had in years, and I wanted to learn more.

I soon found myself in the routine of a daily home practice and immersed myself in the study of asana and yoga philosophy. When I discovered the Ashtanga method, I was instantly drawn to its intelligence, rigor and connection to lineage and history, and have committed myself to practicing it ever since. My long periods of home practice have been enriched by intensive studies with my teachers Richard Freeman, Mary Taylor, and Tim Miller.

Ashtanga yoga has given me the tools to live with more integrity. I’ve found deeper connection, love and joy in my relationships, as well as fortification to confront my weaknesses, shame, grief and loss without being overcome. It takes tremendous courage for me—and you—to show up every day as a student of this mighty lineage and I believe that as a teacher, it’s essential to hold space where inquiry remains open and alive, where we can show up to confront all aspects of our human condition. One of the reasons that I love to teach Ashtanga is because the practice is allowed to stand front and center. Yoga belongs to each practitioner, and in Ashtanga, the practice can be the focal point rather than the teacher. I provide detailed explanations of the hows and whys of practice in hopes that students will become self-sufficient, inquisitive Yogis in their own right.