Hi and welcome to my site! I’m so glad you found your way here. My name is Erica. I am a teacher, a student, musician, world traveler, lover of cookies and coffee, and a wildlife advocate, with a special place in my heart for squirrels.
I have been teaching yoga and fitness to both groups and individuals for almost 15 years across different countries and cities. I’m originally from Ithaca, NY, and now I live in Austin, TX. I’ve spent most of my adult life learning and training in different modalities in the physical movement, music, international travel, and language realms. I offer lots of programs and options for live and video classes. I’ve always got something new and exciting in the works! You can stay up to date by following my social media and signing up to get my newsletter.
Through authenticity, compassion, and a little humor, I empower people to optimize their full potential on and off the yoga mat. In today’s world it’s easy to fall away from true connection with ourselves and others. My classes build a family-like community and we use that support network to embody the innate strength everyone possesses to reach our goals, love ourselves more fully, and leave humanity better than we found it.
I was born and raised in Ithaca, NY to nature loving, hippie parents who are in my opinion the two most wonderful people on the planet, besides my brother. I feel like the luckiest person in the world to have my mom, my dad and my brother. They’re my best friends. My dad is a jazz musician who plays a lot of instruments with tremendous talent, and my mom is a nurse who grew up rescuing baby animals and has a heart of pure gold. My brother is a software engineer and certified genius, and also the kindest, most compassionate soul I know. These three people are the center of my world! Family is the most important thing in my life.
My parents literally met because of a piano. My dad delivered a new piano to my mom’s parents’ house, she was sitting on the couch, and he flirted with her. That’s how they met! The next day, he called and asked my mom for a date. One year later they were married.
I inherited my love and gift for music from my dad. When I was 3, he taught me to play the piano. I absolutely loved it but my parents couldn’t afford piano lessons until I was 9. Once they were able to give me lessons, I started studying with a teacher. I am trained in the Suzuki method of classical piano. The ability to play music is one that I will never lose. Playing the piano feels like walking on clouds to me. I love many kinds of music (I play drums too) but classical piano is the closest to my heart.
My father’s family is from the south of Italy. I grew up with the stereotypical loud, loving, hilarious Italian-American family, with a heavy dose of Italian profanity. I always loved the language, and I loved language in general. When I was a toddler I made up my own language! Anyway, I studied French, Spanish and Russian in school, but my true love is Italian. I studied abroad 3 times in college in Italy and one of my Bachelors degrees is in Italian Studies. After graduating from college I took a teaching position at the University of Urbino, Italy in the Foreign Languages & Literature Department. I speak Italian fluently, the way I speak English.
While I was living in Spain and New York City, I worked as an Italian/English translator. I also taught languages in the classroom for years, until I moved to Austin in 2010. When I moved to Austin I started my career in International Education administration. I got to use my language skills a lot, through building and running study abroad programs in Italy, Peru, China, and several other countries.
I started traveling on my own internationally when I was 13 years old. I went to a wonderful school in my hometown (Ithaca NY) that encouraged independence, exploration, and following our dreams. After that first trip to Costa Rica in middle school, I was addicted. I started working when I was 14 years old so I could travel to all the places I wanted to go. The goal I have for myself is to see at least one new country every year. I’ve lived in Italy 3 different times; Spain; Mexico; Thailand; and New York City, which might as well be its own country for how singular it is! There is nothing quite like stepping off the plane into completely unfamiliar territory and wandering into the most unpredictable, beautiful, and life changing adventures. I cherish these memories dearly and I love to create new ones as much as I can.
Communicating and Connecting
Ever since I was little I have LOVED to talk to people. I made up my own language as a toddler, and my parents tell me I used to run up to strangers and hug them on a regular basis. Looking back, this was probably pretty awkward for my parents, but I am a born chatterbox. My favorite thing in the world besides yoga and playing the piano is connecting with people and building community. I was a classroom teacher for years, I ran international programs and advised college students, and I’ve been teaching yoga and fitness for 12 years now. All of these things have brought me lots of joy, and they are all just tools for human connection. I’m a born communicator, from presenting at conferences to listening to my friends’ problems, to hosting yoga retreats and facilitating group experiences.
I found yoga pretty much by accident. I was 15 and I somehow decided to sign up for a restorative yoga class at my local YMCA. I loved it without knowing why..I just knew I felt better and more relaxed after class. It was this way for the next few years – practicing with different teachers and trying different styles, always appreciating and enjoying…but yoga was still sort of a mystery to me and I couldn’t quite explain the effect it was having. One day, years, later it started to click while I was practicing at home by myself. I just started feeling yoga on a deeper level. My mind and my body started syncing up and it was really incredible. In 2009, I was living in Rome and was asked to start teaching a yoga class at my local gym. There was nothing to say but YES! And I haven’t stopped since. The revelations and transformations don’t stop. Yoga finds its way into your heart and your psyche, and it changes you, for the better. It has been and will always be formative in new and amazing ways.
I love movement of many types! My favorite activities besides yoga are jiu jitsu, Muay Thai, cycling, and trail running. I’ve gotten into a lot of different modalities over the years though. I first started with ballet as a little girl and I loved it, but I quit because I had the teacher from hell. It was unfortunate, but it taught me very early on just how important it is to be a teacher that is empowering and supportive, not judgmental and abusive! I still love ballet, and it is absolutely crucial to me to support my yoga and fitness students in the best way I can so that they can be their happiest.
I ran track in high school, and in college I ran long distance (on my own, not for the team). I got into weight lifting, both power and olympic, and that’s what fueled my interest in CrossFit. I coached that for a while, until I found martial arts, which changed me in a way that’s comparable to how yoga changed me.
My martial arts experience started with Capoeira back in 2012. Like yoga, I stumbled into it sort of by accident, and fell in love pretty quickly. Capoeira was beautiful and difficult and interesting, but what I loved most was the focus and humility it demanded. Playing with another person and different people, one after the other, was a very different experience than practicing yoga by myself or running a trail or going for a long bike ride.
A year later I found Muay Thai and that’s when I knew I was a goner. I moved to Thailand to train and study. That was one of my most memorable experiences. I learned so much about myself, about other people, about discipline, courage, humility, and integrity. I will always love Muay Thai.
And then, there’s jiu jitsu. I found it 5 years ago but didn’t have the time to begin training until 2018. Jiu jitsu for me is like yoga. It has the same principles, just expressed in different ways. Jiu jitsu encompasses everything I love about martial arts as well as everything I love about yoga. The community, the connection to others and self, the compassion and challenge and humility. It is truly a yogic art.
Like many people, I adore animals. And not just the cute ones! I grew up with hippie parents who took us hiking in the woods every weekend, and who did a beautiful job of teaching my brother and me that every life is precious. They taught us to love and appreciate people and animals and the natural world. I firmly believe that animals are special. They are generous friends and teachers and they deserve every bit the same respect and kindness that we give to our best friends.
I’ve had several pets over the years, but the one who really changed my life is Claude (short for Jean Claude Van Damme). Claude is an orphaned baby squirrel that I rescued in March 2020. He came into my life and completely took it over, in the best way imaginable. The love I have for my little friend is so powerful. Something really special happens when a little wild animal bonds to you. That kind of love that comes from a wild animal choosing you and loving you, is really singular. I could talk for hours and hours about Claude! For now, you can read more about his story in the FAQ section and you can follow him on his own Instagram at @claudethesquirrel.