Rhiannon began her yoga journey in 2005 after recovering from a serious dance-related fracture. After starting with home videos and the “Yoga Mind & Body” book from the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre, she was instantly hooked by the philosophy and became a regular student at the Yoga Center of Columbia for several years. Through regular practice, not only did she experience an increase in body awareness and strength, but also a positive shift in her attitude & overall awareness, which radiated out into her personal relationships. As a young dancer, how to "listen to your body" was not something that was taught or came automatically. Through yoga, is where the learning how to listen happened.
After completing her 200hr Hatha/Vinyasa-based training in Baltimore with Kim Manfredi (2011), she sought out additional training in *Thai healing arts (Thai bodywork, as well as herbal therapies) in which she has over 200hrs of domestic & international training. Rhiannon's practice has origins in the Shivagakomarpaj lineage (Old Medicine Hospital, Chiang Mai), but has grown tremendously from her private one-on-one therapeutic studies with Ahjan Na in Chiang Mai, Thailand, as well as her fellow colleagues. Thailand is where a deeper dive into a meditation practice started as well. Much of what she currently teaches follows from Buddhist lineage.
As Rhiannon continued to seek more ways to make her yoga classes inclusive & helpful to a broader range of human experience, in 2017 she became a registered prenatal yoga instructor and has since taught classes and helped many mamas in DC in their practice to honor their bodies, find some relief in pregnancy, and in some ways, prepare for labor day.
What initially started as a journey of physical recovery, and desire to share mind-body practices with fellow dancers & movement artists, turned into a lifelong spiritual & emotional journey and career path.
Though Rhia's movement practice started in dance and (very "alignment-based") yoga, her practice made a huge shift back in 2015 when influenced by Ben King - a personal trainer, fellow AU alum, and veteran who had adopted mindfulness based practices to heal from post-traumatic stress and then applied them to strength training. One-on-one sessions with Ben inspired an even more varied movement practice and deepened her understanding of what functional movement & building strength really was, the importance of it, and how it could feel in contrast to the cultural norm of "no pain no gain". It was a refreshing perspective that is in stark contrast to fitness culture. The shift towards "Movement Culture" started. Rhia's thirst for knowledge, and her body getting very tired of a decade of consistent yoga practice with the same repetitive movements, led her down a mindful functional strength rabbit hole, and has enjoyed a unique movement practice that she now shares with her students & clients.
Her foundational teaching point is that there is no "bad" movement, only movements and amounts that we're not prepared for. Our bodies love variety, and we can use a varied movement practice - just as we might a yoga asana practice - to learn discipline, self awareness, and to prepare our body/minds for the unknown possibilities that life will throw at us, so we can handle them with grace.
Rhia's classes are aimed to be accessible for mostly all levels, ages, and physical capabilities. Her intention is for students to walk away not only feeling good and more "at home" in their bodies, but also feeling more confident, in control of their wellbeing, resilient, and having better tools in their "toolbox" to increase their quality of life.
Since Jan of 2019, Rhia has trained in the Functional Range Systems and is a certified Functional Range Conditioning mobility specialist (FRCms) as well as a Functional Range Assessment specialist (FRAs). This is the main system that influences her 1-1 coaching.
Rhia's other studies/continuing education include the ACE personal training program, Functional range release (Spine course), the Integrated Kinetic Neurology approach, several college semesters of anatomy & physiology and health related courses, personal research, books on books, webinars on webinars, and hours on hours of listening to physiotherapists and chiropractors argue about topics way beyond a Yoga teacher's pay grade.
In addition to being an E-RYT, RPYT, FRCms, FRAs and certified in Thai yoga therapy, Rhiannon holds a bachelor's degree in Anthropology from the American University. A deep dive in academia was another educational point where she realized she needed to be out in the world applying her practice and moving her body.
In addition to teaching & coaching, Rhia dances professionally in the Baltimore/DC metro area and specializes in dances from the MENAT region (mid-east, north Africa & Turkey). She has weekly public performances and occasionally private events (i.e. weddings, birthday parties, anniversaries, and a variety of other family friendly events).
Rhia continues to geek out over developing science, as well as, & with respect to, traditional healing arts. She is a lifelong explorer of how movement can heal, build community, unite us, and help us reach our best selves.
*Please note that the Thai yoga therapy components of my teaching and practice are based on my certification through the Thai Institute of Healing Arts, not derived from my status as an RYT/RPYT with Yoga Alliance Registry