Laurel’s fiery personality will keep you motivated and smiling on and off the mat. She loves helping others seek the beauty within and the beauty throughout the world. Her passion for travel and adventure keeps her teaching yoga, paddle boarding, hiking, running, tasting healthy vegan food and sipping wine and cocktails all over the globe. When she’s not traveling, Laurel’s heart is rooted in her hometown of Bethlehem, PA with her husband, Josh, and chi-weenie/sidekick, Zeek.
gy: Why do you teach yoga?
la: Yoga has brought so much joy to my life, and I love spreading that joy with others.
gy: What first brought you to the mat? Give us a short story of your first yoga experience.
la: After completing graduate school, while working full time, I knew I needed a change mentally and physically. I was stressed out, exhausted and unhealthy. Yoga was my graduation gift to myself. It truly is the gift that keeps on giving.
gy: What yoga teacher(s) has most influenced your practice and teaching?
la: My first yoga teacher, Elaynee Polentes shifted my life forever. It was not just yoga that made me want to practice all the time, it was her. Her radiant energy and genuinely kind soul always had me wanting to attend her classes. She has since retired from teaching yoga and is now my student. Yoga is so beautiful!
gy: How would you describe your teaching style?
la: My teaching style encourages students to move with attention to alignment and core stability while maintaining a fluid breath cycle. My approach allows you to progress to the next level of your practice, while using your core to find balance, stability and openness. Each yoga class is a reflection of everyday life; challenges in class will require you to maintain the integrity of your core, your true being.
gy: What is your go-to yoga pose when you only have a few minutes? Why?
la: I love Navasana. It is definitely a strange pose to love, but it always helps me fire up my energy. I love starting my day with Navasana pulses before I meditate.
gy: Where do you most tap into inspiration? Any resources you could share with us? (yoga, life, place, website…anything!)
la: We are inundated with information all day long! We pick up advice, tips and opinions all day even if we do not realize it. When I sit quietly, I can sort through the mess running through my mind and use that for inspiration. We can all inspire ourselves; we just need to tap into it.
I also love spending time paddle boarding, where distractions are very few, to tap into what is in my heart and mind.
gy: What would the soundtrack of your life sound like? (Feel free to share a spotify creation if you’d like!)
la: My soundtrack would sound like the ocean. Some days it is wild, crashing and crazy and other days it is calm, peaceful and serene. It is in constant motion and transition.
gy: Describe your life ten years from now. Where are you living? What are you doing?
la: In ten years, I will still be living in my beloved Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. I will be teaching primarily from my home studio, which is currently under construction. I will be hosting more retreats and hope that my husband can join for more.
By then, I should be pretty good at filming videos. I hope to make more videos and provide classes to my students and friends all over the globe.
gy: What is your favorite tradition or ritual?
la: After returning from Italy for the first time back in 2005, my husband and I decided that when dining out we would always make an effort to eat as slowly as possible. We sit at restaurants for hours and enjoy each bite and also the conversation.
gy: You have a Sunday all to yourself. How do you spend it?
la: I love to be active!! So, I would most likely start with a jog, paddle board and do some yoga. After all that, I would soak in our claw foot bath tub. Then, eat lots of guacamole.
gy: What do you value most in your relationships?
la: Trust and respect are crucial to any relationship. My husband and I will be married 15 years this August and we would have never made it without both of these elements. On a less serious level, but still very important, the ability to laugh together is super important. My husband is my best friend and we laugh about a lot. I value you these same qualities in my other relationships as well. Without trust and respect, we do not have a relationship and if we cannot make each other smile and laugh, why bother.
gy: Tell us about your first love. Five words or less.
la: He is my best friend.
gy: What’s the picture on your phone’s background? Why did you choose it?
la: A picture of Zeek out paddle boarding with me. For such a small guy, a 12 pound chi-weenie, he is so brave, calm and energized. I love having him as my side-kick and captain while paddling.
gy: When you’re gone, what do you hope people remember about you?
la: I hope I helped them smile and motivated them to live beyond their perceived potential.
gy: Any particular yama, niyama or sutra that speaks to you right now? Can you elaborate on that a little bit?
la: I have always loved the Niyama of tapas. I have a fiery personality and I love to work hard on and off the mat. So, I find a true understanding and connection with this Niyama.
gy: In your parallel life, what are you doing? Any other callings that have taken the backseat to yoga that we should know about?
la: I love to hang out with my siblings. They are 22 and 18. They keep me young. And, my husband is my best friend. We are an active family. So, we often spin, run, paddle, hike and yoga together. They also all love to eat my cooking.
I truly feel that I am doing exactly what I am meant to do. I was a higher education executive for years and I am so happy I made the transition. Life is way too short to not love what you do.
gy: If neither time nor money were a concern, what would you do?
la: I would travel a lot more and my husband and Zeek would join me. I am fascinated by nature and other cultures. So, there is a lot out there, I have not yet seen.
gy: What is your astrological sign? What do you most identify with about it?
la: I am Leo. And, I really am a leo. I am pretty determined, motivated, confident and I can be a little intimidating to some. I have always had a leadership mentality and I am extremely loyal.
gy: What’s your spirit animal?
la: I love elephants. My great grandfather and grandmother collected elephants and I always felt very drawn to her collection. Then, I fell in love with the story of Ganesha and it’s representation of overcoming obstacles and becoming successful.
gy: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
la: I was a bit of a trouble maker when I was a teenager. When leaving the house one day, my dad said, “Laurel, I don’t care what you do as long as you are a leader and not a follower.” As teenagers, and sometimes as adults, we often get caught up in just doing what our friends tell us to do rather making our own path. I always keep those words with me. Are we creating our own path or just following along in others? It is such an important question to ask.
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