eslie has been exploring movement her entire life. From ballet to boxing, her exploration brought her to yoga 20 years ago. She had just embarked on a new career in closed captioning. Translation: sitting still for hours on end, thinking as fast as you can and writing on a steno machine at 250 words per minute in real-time with (theoretically) very little room for error. It’s a perfectionist’s dream job and pretty much the polar opposite of yoga, except for the real-time part. She began practicing yoga as a way to de-stress. She never imagined its impact or circuitous route to her next career.
Other stress antidotes were massage and Thai massage. Ever inquisitive, she became certified in both, which enlivened her interest in anatomy, kinesiology and the mind/body/spirit connection. As an homage to her mother who died of breast cancer when Leslie was 26, she volunteered for 4 years with Heart Touch, giving massages in an AIDS hospice and assisting trainings for massage therapists. This experience touched her heart, as she learned that healing hearts transcends healing bodies and that being truly present is the greatest healer.
Celebrating her own healthy body and precious life, she continued doing yoga with myriad expert teachers and traveled to India to study with the masters of Ashtanga and Iyengar, Pattabi Jois and BKS Iyengar. She found the practice so transformative that she became a walking billboard for yoga, which inspired her – to her complete surprise! -- to become a teacher. She did her first teacher training at Yoga Works in 2001 with Lisa Walford and Maty Ezraty and assisted that training in 2003, led by Lisa Walford and Annie Carpenter, both of whom were her mentors. She continues to study, practice and co-teach workshops with Annie Carpenter, who is her teacher, mentor, collaborator, cheerleader and dear friend.
Leslie had studied and practiced therapeutic yoga for years before she was in a motorcycle accident in 2009. It was then that she began to truly understand the depth of healing and transformation of yoga, in her body and in her life. Certified as a yoga therapist through Loyola Marymount University, Leslie understands the body’s systems beyond structure, what occurs in dis-ease and how yoga can be used safely to effect a greater sense of vitality and grace for any body. To deepen her experience as a yoga therapist, Leslie mentored under Sherry Brourman, a multi-talented and very experienced physical/gait/yoga therapist. Sherry also taught her gait analysis, which Leslie uses for student assessment. Together, they developed a 300-hour internship program for new yoga therapists which is recognized by the International Association of Yoga Therapists.
About 8 years ago, Leslie’s loves of both movement and knowledge found an exciting combination: the healing art of yoga with the science of medical research. She has collaborated on the design and implementation of several studies investigating how yoga benefits those with Parkinson’s, hyper kyphosis, cystic fibrosis and structural issues in older adults. She is privileged to continue to collaborate on future research projects with the UCLA Department of Geriatrics as well as the Biokinesiology Department of USC in a true East-meets-West partnership.
Through her experience in working with adults of all ages with many medical conditions, Leslie has developed a repertoire of modifications that make yoga accessible to all. Engaging her students with clear, specific language and sequencing, she guides her students to discover fluidity and grace in their breath and direct that flow into their movement. She perceives their infinite beauty and possibilities and empowers them with greater self-awareness. She infuses her teaching with her joy of life and irreverent sense of humor. If laughter is the best medicine, Leslie’s classes are guaranteed to improve your health.
Leslie continues to study for her own personal growth and inspiration. Fascinated by the power and plasticity of the mind, her latest exploration is in MBSR, mindfulness-based stress reduction, as she continues to meld being with doing, finessing the right balance as she teaches classes, workshops, trainings and private clients.