I’m a woman committed to making yoga matter in your actual, real, everyday life. I believe that authentic yoga practice has the capacity to change everything.
Yoga practice is so much more than downward-facing-dog-pose practiced on a sticky mat. Don’t get me wrong, I love down-dog and practice it regularly. But transformation happened for me when I started studying—and implementing—the deeper teachings of yoga. These deeper teachings have the power to change how your mind functions and how you live and participate in the world. Yoga practice can change the very understanding you hold of yourself. I know this is true because I’ve personally experienced it and I’ve witnessed it in the lives of my students.
I have worked with hundreds of students and I have been blessed to witness deep and lasting transformation. I’ve worked with people from just about every faith or no faith. I’ve worked with people brand new to yoga and folks who’ve been practicing for longer than I’ve been alive. Through all my work, I have found a few things to be true:
- People are searching for more meaning in life.
- People are struggling to deal with their reactive, habitual emotions.
- People have scars from their early childhood experiences of spirituality that are standing in the way of their adult experiences of spirituality.
- People know the bad habits they should change, but don’t know how to actually change them.
- People want to find the calm, peaceful mind that yoga practice promises and while they do find glimpses of it during their asana practice (postures), they aren’t sure how to keep hold of it once they sit up from savasana (corpse pose).
I have helped people find the tools to deal with these issues and answer these questions by deepening their yoga practice into one that takes advantage of all that the ancient art and science of yoga has to offer.
I love the study of this vast tradition, but I’m not interested in simply losing myself in scholarship (most days anyway). I’m also not interested in airy fairy pronouncements about yoga and spirituality that aren’t grounded. In my life, work, and practice, I am seeking to understand ancient traditions and texts in ways that are accessible, relevant, and most of all, useful in our lives today.
In all my work I hope to bring inspiration, education, and support to my students—and to all who are interested in deepening their practices of yoga and spirituality. I pray that my work will help you begin the process of deepening your practice and that I can support you as you work to keep your practice alive and transformative.
what i do
In my teaching I strive to help every student:
- observe their habits, patterns, and the unintentional reactions they have in response to themselves and the world around them,
- connect with a sense of calm and contentment deep within themselves,
- understand the deeper teachings of yoga,
- understand and harness the power of their breath,
- find, learn, and practice the appropriate tools for their own transformation,
- and learn to act—and live—with intention in the midst of daily life.
I work with my students to create meaningful personal practices. I help students establish the ritual of daily practice. And I support them as they begin to change in response to their practice.
The practice of yoga helps us understand the nature and cause of suffering and offers us tools to relieve our own suffering. I work with students individually to identify the appropriate combination of tools to meet their needs and respond to their own unique situation.
how i approach my work
Because every person is different, my work is always personal and situational. I strive to create and hold a space where my students can speak and be heard, where they can open up and begin to deeply notice their own lives.
I bring my whole self to every student. I am an artist, minister, yoga teacher, and yoga therapist. These aspects of myself come together and overlap in interesting ways. All have taught me unique ways of seeing the world and have helped me be fully present to the people and situations I encounter. In all of my work, I seek to bring the creativity of an artist, the heart of a minister, and the toolbox of a yogi.
From my training as an artist—a printmaker specifically—I have learned the importance of conversation without assumption. A printmaker spends a great deal of time planning and preparing a plate, understanding that despite their efforts and vision, they have no way of knowing what they’re making until they run the first print. A printmaker has to stay open to the possibility of surprise. They have to stay open to an ongoing conversation with the work they’re creating. To some extent, all of art is like this. Surely, all of life is like this. My work as an artist has helped me stay open to surprising outcomes and to the beauty that comes from surprising places. It has helped me hold my presumptions lightly and seek creative ways of responding to situations and people.
From my training as a minister, I have learned how to be present with mystery and unanswerable questions. I believe that God is bigger than any understanding I, or any tradition, will ever have. Despite this fact, I also believe that my search to understand God is always worthwhile. I have worked with students from all faiths and no faith. I believe everyone has the right to spirituality. I teach a practical spirituality—the spiritual practice of living in the world amidst the ever present, ever changing dynamics of life, with meaning, mystery, and intention. My work as a minister has helped me find comfort in silence and simplicity. It has helped me to seek peace in both quiet and loud ways and to understand the importance and sometimes difficult nature of integrity.
From my training as a yoga teacher and therapist, I have learned that transformation is possible. Everything is always changing and while we can’t stop change, we can affect its direction. I have been changed by the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, an ancient text that offers a classic understanding of yoga. When you study this text you realize that it isn’t a book about postures. It’s a psychological philosophy, by which I mean, the practice of yoga is a practice of the mind. Thoughts have power. We create our world through our thinking. We change our world through the transformation of our thinking. I teach an integrated practice of yoga that involves textual study, ritual, prayer, chanting, intention, movement, breath, and meditation. My work as a yoga teacher and therapist has allowed me to witness the power of paying attention. It has helped me to understand that personal transformation begins with deep noticing.
Learn more about my work here: Yoga Church Sunday Sermons, Yoga Church Weekly Gathering, and Private Yoga Therapy. If you have any questions about working together, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
a fast-forward version of my personal story
Like so many of us, I had a chaotic childhood. My family is full of love, but sadly has generations of addiction and abuse issues. I spent the better part of my early adulthood searching for a sense of control and balance.
After experimenting with fundamentalist Christianity in my early twenties (I was seeking control remember?) I found safety and healing in a pastored Quaker Meeting. I had been taught to care about social justice as a child, but the Quakers gave my heart the push it needed to take action. Through my college—where I was studying fine art—I took a work study position at a drop-in center for homeless women in downtown Spokane, WA. One of my favorite projects there was to collect the women’s artwork and put together an exhibit for one of Spokane’s first Friday art walks. Eventually I moved to inner-city Chicago to live in an intentional community (13 people, one shower) supported by Dominican Sisters. I taught visual art and creative writing classes to ex-gang members enrolled in a GED program.
Through all of this change, I was continually involved in deep conversations with my husband and close friends about what it meant to believe in God. About what it meant to be religious or spiritual. At a certain point I became angry and disillusioned with what I saw in religious culture and started reading atheist literature. At this point I decided to enroll in seminary (I know, odd choice). Even though I didn’t have the language for it at the time, I was deeply lost in a dark-night-of-the-soul experience.
Seminary was a life changing event. I had professors that gracefully let me move through the roller-coaster of emotions I was dealing with—from childhood traumas, to the troubled understanding of God I had learned from fundamentalism, to my returned memory of the Buddhism and Paganism my grandmother had taught me, to my inability to reconcile the idea of a God that can act in the world and the world of suffering that I witnessed everyday. I began to study the mind and the human spirit. I did deep personal work and started to feel like balance and healing were possible (even though control wasn’t).
In my early thirties I found a connection to my body by participating in several all women’s triathlons and in the process was able to let go of years of stored up fear. With less fear, I was able to start doing work that I had felt called to for a long time. I started leading workshops and traveled the country with an organization called Quaker Quest. I helped several Quaker Meetings work through questions of identity and faith. I eventually started designing and offering my own workshops on topics such as creativity and prayer.
Near the end of seminary, I enrolled in a yoga teacher training program in Indianapolis and my heart finally cracked open. I had found the tradition that I could give my whole self to without reservation. I began to devour the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and sought out a teacher to help me. I found and began deep study in the tradition of Viniyoga in the lineage of T. Krishnamacharya.
After seminary I opened a yoga studio in West Lafayette, IN where I had the pleasure of working with gifted teachers and dedicated students. I taught group classes, workshops, retreats, philosophy courses, and saw students privately. In 2013 I left the studio in the capable hands of another teacher and moved back to my home state of Washington.
Having been a lover of salt water and trees my entire life, I’m quite happy to be rooting myself on 15 wooded acres near Birch Bay. I now have a much clearer sense of who I am, what I believe, and the work I am supposed to do in the world. I know that everything is always changing. And amidst this change I do my best to stay grounded in the calm, divine center that is mysteriously part of who I am and the world I live in. And when I forget these things, I trust my practice to bring me back.
Want help building your own practice? Join me for a Yoga for Transformation course and private Yoga Therapy.
I would be honored to practice with you.
“Summer’s approach to yoga strikes a perfect balance between respect for a complex tradition with a deep history and making the teachings of that tradition accessible. As a teacher she is neither intimidatingly esoteric nor reductive but is dedicated to showing how yoga is useful for living a calmer, more present, more engaged life.” -RM
“My study of yoga with Summer has been a gift. There is not a single day that goes by that is not enriched with her teachings. I am more grounded, more present, and more flexible – both in body and spirit.” -KT