eslie has been exploring movement her entire life. From ballet to boxing, her exploration brought her to yoga over 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. In 2003, she had the honor of assisting the Yoga Works training, led by her two mentors, Lisa Walford and Annie Carpenter. She continues to study, practice and co-teach SmartFLOW® advanced training workshops with Annie Carpenter, who is her teacher, mentor, collaborator, cheerleader and dear friend.
Leslie had studied therapeutic yoga for years with many Iyengar teachers 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. Sitting by the side of the road unable to stand and in a great deal of pain, she found herself thinking: I'm OK. My body's kind of a disaster right now, but I am still okay... followed by: Wow! I really do believe in yoga! NOW begins the true practice of yoga, embracing all that it has to offer. This gave new meaning to the term "personal training."
Official yoga therapy training came in the form of what was in 2008-09, a two-year certification program at Loyola Marymount University, Yoga Rx. This program helped to coalesce Leslie's understanding of 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 in any situation. The Yoga Rx program teaches primarily the lineage of Desikachar, or viniyoga system, offering another yogic perspective. To deepen her experience as a yoga therapist, Leslie mentored under Sherry Brourman, a multi-talented and thoroughly experienced physical/gait/yoga therapist. Author of "Walk Yourself Well," Sherry also taught her gait analysis, which Leslie has found invaluable for student assessment. Seeing a need for hands-on, real-life experience post YT training, together Leslie and Sherry developed a 300-hour internship program for new yoga therapists. Currently dormant, the Tensegrity Center for Yoga Therapy is recognized by the International Association of Yoga Therapists.
There is a saying that we need science because we have forgotten our wisdom; we have lost the art of trusting our intuition. Yet we bow in Namaste to our inner wisdom, our true teacher. Searching for guidance for inner wisdom is a bit of a conundrum. Humbly searching to believe in her wisdom, Leslie has done MBSR (mindfulness-based stress reduction) meditation training and regularly attends mindfulness workshops through InsightLA. She has also done retreats in Heart-Mind Training with Gary Kraftsow. And she looks forward to studying iRest Yoga Nidra with Richard Miller this fall.
About 10 years ago, Leslie’s loves of both movement and knowledge forged 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.
Research is a powerful tool in studying the scientific, measurable aspects of yoga. Through practice, we learn that yoga transcends that which we can quantify in a lab. Through research, scientists may also discover the deeper dimensions of the practice.
Knowledge is power but wisdom is magic! Studying several yoga traditions with many amazing teachers has taught Leslie that we are all on a unique path with our unique truth. Students come to yoga with many situations and intentions. Teachers are merely guides on the path. There is an art to choosing the best yogic tools for each student and class.
With her knowledge and experience in working with adults of all ages with many medical conditions, Leslie has developed a repertoire of tools and 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 will give more than your recommended dosage!
Leslie sustains her personal evolution and inspiration by remaining a curious student. She continues to meld being with doing, finessing a nourishing balance as she teaches classes, workshops, advanced teacher trainings and private clients.