I found yoga in 2000 after suffering an injury. Frustrated by inactivity I wandered into a gym yoga class one day, thinking it might help. As fate would have it, the class was taught by an inspiring teacher and I was hooked! A few years later, I took a month off work to live in an ashram and immerse myself fully in yoga. To prepare, I had to find a tent that would be my home for a month and give up caffeine and meat. Worse (for an Italian) I was also not allowed to eat onion or garlic! But, I soon discovered that giving up meat or spices were the least of the challenges of ashram life. Much more difficult was the process of quieting my mind and focusing my attention long enough to feel comfortable in my own skin. Free of the distractions of daily life, I realised there were parts of myself I had never really seen. A month later I emerged with the title of yoga teacher and the new yogic name of Purna, which can be translated as “fullness” or “wholeness”. But rather than feeling full, I felt like I had only just begun…
My very first student was my mother who still inspires me with her dedicated, heartfelt yoga practice. Since then, I have had the opportunity to offer yoga to people of many ages and abilities, from stressed office workers, to athletes in training, to people managing chronic illness and pain.
After my time at the Sivananda ashram I continued to study, embracing the discipline of Ashtanga, enjoying the electric prana flow of Shiva Rea, and finding sweetness in the surrender of Yin Yoga as taught by Paul and Suzee Grilley. As a life-long athlete, I also continued to run, jump, shimmy, spin, punch, and kick my way through Tae Kwan Do, Kung Fu, Tai Chi, Bellydance, long runs, weekend softball games, and (my most recent passion) Olympic Lifting.
Along the way I discovered a hidden passion for anatomy that led me to training with pioneering fascia researcher and educator Tom Myers (author of Anatomy Trains) and to dissect a human cadaver under the guidance of “Somanaut” Gil Hedley.
For me movement is a way to experience the convergence of body and mind and to find and test perceived boundaries, both physical and mental. Whether I am lifting a heavy weight over my head or balancing on one leg, I like to find new aspects of familiar movements. Alongside the muscles, fascia, and bones of Western Anatomy, I also look to Traditional Chinese Medicine and use movement as a way to explore the relationship between the physical pathways of our connective tissues and the energetic pathways described by yoga and TCM.
Reflecting on the name Purna and why it was given to me so many years ago in the ashram, I came across this quote:
The attainment of wholeness requires one to stake one’s whole being. Nothing less will do; there can be no easier conditions, no substitutes, no compromises – Carl Jung
It’s a pretty fierce challenge but I think I’m up for it! Care to join me? Namaste, Jennifer.