Paula was kind enough to answer questions for us as part of our Featured Yogi series.
How did you begin practicing yoga?
I was always a very active child, running, jumping and dancing around my parents with never-ending energy. From a young age, I loved to dance, practicing a variety of styles of dance everyday after school. For high school, I attended a local boarding school, and all of a sudden, dance was no longer available to me. To ease this transition, my mom took me to my first yoga class, and I immediately fell in love with the practice. In college, I became a dedicated student, consistently inspired by the teachers and yogis surrounding me.
Why is yoga important to you?
In addition to being an extremely healthy form of exercise, yoga is a natural healer that connects the mind, body, and spirit in a most unique way. Yoga is a unilateral catalyst for positive intention. And, it is my belief that positive intention is the glue that holds our universe together. Ultimately, we are all one, and the practice of yoga is an incredible medium for this message. No matter who you are, or where you come from, something beautiful can emerge from just one practice. Through practice, we are able to find a connection to the divine peace that lives within each of us. As a yoga student, this is propelling part of my practice.
What made you want to teach yoga?
In this life, we all desire a sense of connection to something meaningful. My whole life, I have known that whatever I dedicate myself to, whatever I put my efforts towards, would be something that truly makes my heart sing. It is indescribably fulfilling to lead a group of yogis through this incredibly powerful practice. Each time I hear their collective oceanic breath, my heart sings. Each time I see a student's face light up with joy and self-love, cultivated through their own self-empowerment, my heart sings again. Every time I see, hear, feel, and know, that a student has found that connection to the divine peace within each and every one of us, my heart sings.
Do you have a preferred type of yoga to teach/practice? Please elaborate.
I am trained to teach Vinyasa Flow, and this tends to be my favorite style of practice. Vinyasa Flow is a musically and artistically inspired movement of the mind, body, and spirit. This allows each an instructor to add his or her own unique touch. In my practice, as an instructor and student, I seek an environment where community, compassionate communication, consciousness expansion, encouragement, and self-worth are ever present. In addition, I love a long restorative practice at least once a week—I find it very important to let yourself slow down and absorb.
Describe a class with Paula. What makes the experience unique?
I asked a dear friend, Sade Bowen, to help me answer this question. Her response was so beautiful that I felt the best way to describe my class, was to share her kind words… “I knew from my first Paula class that you just have that divine magic! The atmosphere you create from your messages, your unique sequencing, to the best music! You push us, yet you are encouraging. There is play, yet introspection. You cultivate community with breath. You are innovative, yet you connect to something that feels as old as time. Every time, I leave class enveloped in a little ball of light!”
Who is your favorite Washington D.C. area yoga teacher?
All of the teachers at the Studio DC are incredibly talented. Our owners, Katja and Ryan are very intuitive when it comes to choosing instructors who create lasting connections with their students. In particular, Chanda Creasy, who has been teaching at The Studio DC for over a decade, is an especially organic and natural instructor. Her classes transcend time and space, almost as if she has welcomed you to a different realm. She is an incredibly powerful and inspiring person both on and off the mat. This shows through her inspirational words and physical practice. Her classes are truly a blessing, and experience I would recommend to any yogi, regardless of level of experience.