Julie is one of those teachers that walks into the room, and you feel her before you even know that she is there. This woman vibrates at a level higher than most, and is why she has been described as “Prana personified.” Our first experience with Julie was one of her amazing Align and Refine classes, followed by a soiree over pasta and red wine in Brooklyn, her stomping grounds. We are so honored to have her with us on The Local Collective. Check out her latest addition to her video collection here!
1.What is your go-to yoga pose when you’ve only got a few minutes to practice? Why do you think it’s so appealing?
It depends on my energy at the moment, but I always begin with Down Dog and go into Uttanasana (Forward Bend). Handstand is a tried and true go-to pose for re-energizing me, and waking up my entire body. One thing I’ve learned is that we will be more attracted to poses we can already do, or we’ll move in ways that are already easy, so Hanumanasana is another go-to because I can do it. Beyond that though, Hanumanasana reminds me of the humility and love needed to attend to my body and mind every day. This pose is an expression of those virtues.
2. Early morning routine? What’s yours? Coffee? Tea?
Yes, coffee. I have given it up before but I just love it, love the ritual of making it and taking that first sip. Then, I sit down with something to read that is nourishing for my heart and soul. After I wake up into my body a bit more, I sit for 30 minutes of meditation. Then I begin my day, which often starts right there with planning my classes.
3. What is one song you never get tired of hearing?
The Hanuman Chalisa, “Bernie’s Chalisa” in particular, by Krishna Das
4. Do you have a favorite quote, affirmation, or saying that gets you through the tough times? What is it?
It’s not one saying or quote, but I try to remember that everything I’m feeling and experiencing is a form of Mahashakti, or consciousness that is moving and flowing. Despite it being uncomfortable and may sometimes feel intolerable, when I remember that the tough emotion or outward experience is divine in essence, I settle into less resistance of it. Then I remember its changing, shifting, and will shift again.
5. How would you describe your yoga teaching style?
I think yoga is, by design, a practice for us to develop a relationship with our own hearts’ meaning, and find the alignment to create a meaningful life. I teach classes as a layered combination of physical, intellectual, heart-based, and sometimes mystical connections in a practical yet playful way in order for it all to take root.
6. How old were you when you fell in love with the practice of yoga? What was so appealing about it to you?
I fell in love with yoga in Fall of 1997 when I found that through moving my body I could feel more emotion and sensation which was a great, great release. Yoga felt like a full experience of self expression that I was craving.
7. What made you want to become a yoga teacher?
I think I always knew I’d end up a teacher, but I didn’t know of what. When I was 17, my parents sat me down with the big SUNY catalog of colleges and said “what do you want to major in?” I had no idea, but “teach” came out of my mouth. I quickly figured out after one semester that it wasn’t Early Childhood Education, and ended up a Communications major. After college I began a 15-year career in visual merchandising and display design, which was aided by a more regular practice of yoga. Just before 9/11 when I had no work in retail and a lot more time on my hands, I was practicing a lot. I knew I was ready to teach when I looked at a fellow student in a pose during class, and I knew what adjustment they needed to potentially feel more free. Maybe it was divine Grace, but I do believe all paths lead you correctly as long as your eyes are open the whole way. I started teacher training in January of 2002, and never looked back.
8. Describe yourself at 21.
Energetic, scared, and confused. I loved life but struggled with fitting in, feeling purposeful, feeling like I belonged in this life. I was in the throws of an eating disorder that, at 23, took me into a hospital for 6 months. I checked myself in because I knew I had an enormous amount of unraveling to do as my mind was not in tune with my heart, let alone even knowing what a treasure house my heart even was. I look back at her, at this girl, with great compassion. I don’t regret one thing. I see the depth of my suffering then as the definitive game changer that woke me up, shook me free, and set me on the path to where I am.
9. What would you say has been one of the best parts of growing up, getting older?
Being able to see the great arc of my life and seeing the connections and patterns within it. Coming finally to appreciate all of my emotional sensitivity as a gift, and to use it. We are here to feel, develop, mature, play, laugh, and endure.
10. Snack wise, what is your greatest weakness, what can you simply not pass up?
French fries. I will eat at least one if they are on the table. Years ago, my friend Thomas got so frustrated that I was eating his french fries that he wiped his meat all over them saying “keep your hands off my fried potato snacks!”.
11. What are a couple of traits of your own that you hope your kids (or future kids) may inherit. Maybe a couple you hope they don’t?
May all humans of all ages develop empathy, generosity, humility, self love, respect, and a passionate free spirit. May all humans of all ages watch out for greed, hardened sensitivity, and trying to fulfill deep base inner needs with outer things or people.
12. Describe your first love, in six words or less.
My best friend.
13. A Sunday all to yourself, how do you spend it?
I have taught a Sunday morning yoga class for 8 years or so, so Sunday is never fully all to myself! My days off are never the same but always include an extended meditation practice. I love mornings.
14. What about a night out on the town? Who would you spend it with? What would you do?
A blended stew of girlfriends, dinner, and dancing.
15. Who have you been friends with the longest and how did you meet?
RML. We met in high school, but actually went to school together since 1st grade. He was the only one who had my locker combination and would often put little surprises in my locker.
16. What yoga teacher has most influenced your practice and teaching?
I’ve had several teachers be of great, great influence and mentorship to me. I think that we meet many teachers through life and you take different components from each that awaken you, teach you, push you, and you leave the rest.
I learned to think like a yogi from Douglas Brooks.
I learned about the magnificence of asana and the human body practicing it from John Friend. John was also incredibly influential teaching me that a yoga class is a completely creative act of expression with meaning, and how to keep laser sharp focus and awareness.
I have learned about the depth of my heart and the direct connection to Source through meditation from Paul Muller-Ortega.
These three teachers have formed a triad of Grace in my life and I am forever grateful our paths collided in this lifetime.
17. Can you name three traits you cherish most in this/these teacher?
One trait I will always look for in someone is humility, and to this day, Paul continues to extend this out into the world with his teaching and service. I admire this the most.
18. What do you love most about your home space?
That it is the clearest example of who I am. I have altars and deities everywhere, books galore. It’s comfortable and holds my mystery and history.
19. What was the last thing you binge watched on Netflix?
House of Cards!
I’m eagerly awaiting the return of Homeland, and I’ll admit—I’m a huge X-Files fan, so there’s that to look forward to in January.
20. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Two pieces of advice have stayed with me through time:
1. “Change your mind.” Up until I heard this in my 20s, I didn’t know I could. Now it’s ironic and become somewhat of a mantra since yoga is so much about transformation and alchemy.
2. “Look up.” When the world is hard, emotions are stirring, and you can’t find where you are, look up. Look at the sky, the trees, the tip of your landscape. You’ll know again, immediately.