Social Work felt like a natural choice as my major in college because it seemed like the best avenue to help, to listen, and to support others, which is what I’ve always felt compelled to do. After college, I worked for 10 years in a residential and outpatient substance abuse agency. It is during this time that I learned so much about the mental health community. I learned the ins and outs of assessments, treatment planning, group therapy, case management, aftercare planning, and community collaboration. I was trained in many evidence-based treatment techniques including Cognitive Behavioral Treatment, Strengths Perspective, Stages of Change, and Motivational Interviewing. During this time I was exposed to so many different kinds of people from all walks of life. I worked with men and women, mothers and fathers. I worked with people in the corrections system, homeless people, veterans, nurses, lawyers, business people, survivors of sexual and domestic assault, people with developmental disabilities, people enduring anxiety, depression, trauma, grief, schizophrenia, and so many other different issues they were struggling through and surviving!
The amazing capacity for people to endure and prevail astounds me to this day. Although this work allowed me to help, listen, and support people as I believed was my life’s calling. I felt like something was missing. I often felt like I was working for the institutions rather than the human beings. So much of my job description was to meet the requirements of the probation officers, funding sources, and accrediting bodies that I began to feel like I wasn’t actually working for the clients.
After having my first child, I decided to leave my full-time work with the agency and focus on my family. When my daughter was a year old, I went back to school for my Master’s Degree in Social Work. I continued to see myself as a professional with plans to help, listen, and support people and I saw a Master’s Degree as a way to do this in my future.
While going to graduate school I had my second daughter and my son followed a year after completing my degree. I juggled raising my three young children while working contractually for another substance abuse agency on and off and although I loved my children, I often found myself overwhelmed, stressed out, in over my head.
It was during this time that I bought a Groupon for my first yoga class. I don’t know if I was hooked right away but I do know it didn’t take me long to figure out that I was so much calmer, more content, more ready to deal with the chaos of diapers, potty training, crayon on the walls, chocolate milk splattered on the walls, bathtime, bedtime, mealtime etc! Sometimes my husband would even nudge me out of the house saying he could tell I needed a yoga class to help me feel less stressed!
This moving and breathing and meditating I was doing for myself was exactly what I wanted to do as a Social Worker!
I was ready to work outside of the house after my kids were school-aged and after receiving the encouragement and support of my husband, my sisters, and numerous others, I decided to take the yoga teacher training through the local yoga studio where I had been taking classes for the past 2 or 3 years.
Since that time I have learned so much about the ancient teachings of yoga and about the modern research that is now revealing all of the neurological benefits yoga has to offer! As a social worker, I know how important emotional regulation and self-compassion are for living our best lives. Science is finally catching up with the ancient wisdom of yoga.
Partnering with Grand Rapids Healing Yoga has been a truly serendipitous experience. This is a place where people are given tools to find what they are looking for. It is a place to find healing for the body and the heart. GR Healing Yoga has given me a place to offer yoga as a modality for emotional wellbeing. While working here over the past year and a half, I have been able to offer classes for assistance with addiction recovery, emotional regulation for kids, yoga for chronic pain, and I am so excited to be invited to offer individual sessions beginning this March! It is exciting to blend the somatic therapies of breathwork and mindful movement, in combination with the traditional verbal therapies I was trained in as a social worker. The tools of yoga are tangible ones that can bring balance, calm, and empowerment to anybody.
As a mom and through working with kids at Grand Rapids Healing Yoga, I see the extraordinary effects of yoga for kids needing self-regulation, kids needing help with concentration, confidence, or calming. As a mom, a woman, a friend, a sister, I continue to utilize yoga and all it has to offer to maintain my own health and wellness. As a professional, it is an absolute honor to share the gift of contentment and self-actualization with others. All people deserve to feel safe, accepted, and empowered to live their best life. That is what I intend to offer at Grand Rapids Healing Yoga, the acceptance for people to be who they are and the tools to become their truest selves.