Things You Can’t Fit in a Bio: The Story Behind the Story

A long while ago (5 years?), I was sent a list of questions to answer for an upcoming interview. The interview fell through. It never happened. But I stumbled upon the notes I had written for it recently, and thought they were worth a share. They tell a part of my story that you may not know. 

For one, I love recycling :).

For two, I appreciate from a distance, witnessing what was most in the forefront of my mind at that moment. Each of us have profound stories (I do not mean to imply that what is below is that super-deep or terribly personal, but it gets a little vulnerable). It’s so difficult to remember that about each other in the challenges of everyday life. But doing so is our best yoga. Enjoy! – Ariele 

Tell us about you as a person

I’m a yoga teacher and a doctor of physical therapy. I also teach anatomy online and for yoga teacher trainings. In my 20s, I had a meandering career in environmental issues and food justice, but always taught yoga on the side or 50% the time. I never (prior to my mid-20s) would have predicted that I’d become a physical therapist.

Describe your path that led you to where you are today

I started teaching yoga young: I was 22 years old, very much drawn to vinyasa and Kripalu yoga. My grandmother taught yoga, and I had a significant amount of exposure (at least for the era) to other yoga teachers in my teenage years. I hurt my shoulder from repetitive chaturangas in vinyasa yoga, and saw a physical therapist. She impressed me so much that I spent the next 6 years working toward my doctorate.

Life Mantra / Share with us a quote that you live your life by.

“My beloved child, break your heart no longer, for each time you judge yourself you break your own heart” Swami Kripalu

Swami Kripalu

How can individuals implement this in their lives?

Stop being hard on yourself. “Talk” to yourself like you would talk with a child, a loved one or a revered hero. We are made from the same stuff.

Failure /Where have you failed in your life?

Injury certainly felt like a failure to me: how could I consciously pick myself up from there and continue teaching yoga with integrity? This path of figuring out how to teach yoga from a place of deep integrity and learning from my mistakes (or figuring out new ways to elegantly navigate life) — I’m still on it!

Take us to that painful moment / How did you begin again?

I healed myself (with smart yoga and physical therapy), and I researched a new career path. That meant I slowly started taking pre-requisites and shadowing therapists, and working in hospitals. Specifically, I put myself outside of my comfort zone 100s of times over, most dramatically (for me) by choosing a challenging profession, one that starts in a competitive, memorization-based, traditional graduate school.

What did you learn from that experience?

That I can do anything i put my mind to.

my story ariele smileBiggest Smile / What is your proudest moment in sharing your practice?

I’m not sure there is “one” proud moment that sticks out, but one of my favorite feelings is being deeply in the flow while teaching. These are the moments when I catch myself synthesizing science, yoga philosophy, intelligent asana and hopefully humor, effortlessly. I feel like I’m channeling something, and it just rocks.

What’s the biggest risk you took to get to that moment?

Asking students for their time and attention, each time I teach, over and over again. It still makes me feel vulnerable.

What hardships have you faced on your path?

Personal injury, overcoming personal limitations and low self esteem.

Why did you choose to start sharing your practice or start teaching?

I started teaching at the suggestion of a yoga teacher who I admired. She was hoping to find a sub for her classes, and back in 2001, there were not so many of us. I continued teaching because I felt like it was a skill that came relatively easily to me, yet challenged me in all the ways I needed to be challenged.

Mentors: Who has taught you the most in your life? Why? Please trace your yoga bloodlines Who has taught you your practice?

This has a very long answer but here’s what’s at the top of my heart-list: Kripalu yoga, and there are so many teachers from there, but Stephen Cope and Devarshi stand out.

Who has advanced your practice?

Aside from life itself, many of my co-teachers in various studios, gyms, and my students for sure! 

photo credit: Yonas Hassen