Welcome, friend. Thank you for being here. I want you to know that you belong here, and I would like to share my story with you.
My name is Cami and yoga changed my life. I know this is a big statement, so allow me to share how.
Yoga is the ancient South Asian practice of connection, or union (the Sanskrit word yoga means to yoke). It’s the state of being in total union with ourselves, each other, the Earth, the Universe, you name it…and the yogic path found me at a time when I desperately needed connection.
The first time I ever took a yoga class, I was 14, and I loved it. I enrolled with friends in a summer school yoga class at my high school just before freshman year. We had a booklet with all the poses that explained how to do them, and my teacher even let me teach some of the poses at one of our final classes. At that time, I believe the seed of my dharma (purpose) was planted, but it took many more years to germinate under the surface before it sprouted.
The seed that had been planted seemingly exploded into bloom just after I graduated from Muhlenberg College with a degree in theater and dance. I was working as an actor, and babysitting to make money, and one of the moms I worked for, Jill Mockaitis, encouraged me to come to her vinyasa yoga class. I did–and by the time we got to savasana, I’d had such a profound experience of bliss that I knew I had to come back, again and again.
At the time, I couldn’t name it, but I’ve come to recognize that profound experience of bliss as belonging. While the poses, the breathing, the relaxation all felt amazing, yoga’s impact on me ran deeper. After years of being in the competitive, cutthroat performing arts world, where I put an unhealthy amount of pressure on myself to be “perfect”, where I measured my worth by what I could do or what I looked like, the yoga practice felt (and still feels) like a great remembering of who I truly am: I am a being of Divine origin, just like everyone else, and therefore my worth and belonging are inherent. That means that we are all worthy the love, kindness, respect, and belonging we all so deeply desire, simply because we exist. In her book, The Body Is Not An Apology, this is how author and activist Sonya Renee Taylor describes “radical self-love”.
And it is yoga as a path to radical self-love–through both written word and embodied experience–that saved my life. It has helped me work through my own experiences with mental illness, trauma, disconnection and low self-worth, and what empowers me to bring that healing work into the lives of others.
In 2017, I completed my 200-hour yoga teacher training at Kripalu Center in Massachusetts, where I learned yoga through the lineage of Swami Kripalu. His most famous quote is, “The highest form of spiritual practice is self-observation without judgment.” Just that statement alone changed my life.
I went into the program wanting to learn more about yoga, but I left feeling compelled to share the teachings with anyone willing to learn. I also have always loved working with kids (I’ve been babysitting since I was basically still a kid), so I knew right away I wanted to combine these two passions. Being a human is hard, and I think being a young human is even harder, and kids more than ever need a space where they can experience that belonging and connection that is yoga as they navigate life.
Since then, I’ve trained and taught all over. I’ve had the opportunity to practice yoga and teach people of all ages and backgrounds in the US, Italy, and Israel. I’ve done specialized trainings in trauma-informed yoga, pre/postnatal yoga, therapeutic yoga for children and families, yoga nidra, Reiki I, sound healing, Kabbalah yoga, mindfulness/wellbeing coaching, and more.
Seeing the profound impact yoga has had on me in terms of my mental health and self-esteem has inspired me to take my practice on a more therapeutic path. I am currently working on my 1000-hour Advanced Yoga Therapist certification through Breathing Deeply Yoga Therapy. From 2020-2022, I conducted private and group yoga therapy at Yellowbrick, a residential psychiatric treatment center for young adults in Evanston, IL.
My goal as a yoga therapist is to empower the people I work with with the tools and resources to heal themselves. In my sessions, I put an emphasis on choice, non-judgmental awareness, and bodily autonomy, rather than pressure to “get it right”, push the body beyond its limits, or look a certain way (so if you’re looking for the latter, I’m not your teacher, and that’s ok). I do not claim to be the “expert” or the “guru”--we learn from each other in this partnership as equals. I am committed to honoring yoga’s South Asian cultural, spiritual roots, which involves continuous, enthusiastic learning and practice on my part.
Really, everything you’ve read so far is a long-winded way of saying I. Love. Yoga. That’s what you can expect from working with me: someone who infuses that love into every moment, every movement, every breath, and isn’t afraid to let it radiate. It is my great honor and privilege to support you.
Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu (May All Beings Everywhere Be Happy And Free)
E-RYT, YACEP, C-IAYT Candidate