This spiritual life force will help you explore the awakened depths of your soul just as well as she’ll strengthen your physical body. Everything she does, she does with a kind and welcoming smile. Lilli is a woman with many “past lives” as she likes to say. Her artful creativity and vibrant energy flow into every little thing she does.
She has this way of talking to you so that you know she genuinely sees you. Her wisdom and insight go beyond the classroom and she holds space for individuals to discover the new and old within themselves.
Dancer, sales woman, artist, outdoor enthusiast, Thai yoga practitioner and meditation leader extraordinaire, Lilli is the balancing presence of hOM, speaking eloquently and gently with a deliberate strength that draws out your attention and respect.
1. Being a hOMie is not just a job, it’s a lifestyle. What does it mean to you to be a hOMie
Being part of an AWESOME community! Knowing that you get to hang out in classes, trainings, and meetings with other fitness- and wellness-minded hOMies who are energized and happy about what they do, makes going to work seem like playtime. Also, personal growth is key. All the hOMies have fulfilling hobbies and lead inspiring lives. If I am not taking classes and workshops regularly, and finding inspiration from my community and the city around me, then how can I stay fresh? I turn to creative expression, nature, and self-care rituals.
2. How does your personality come through in your teaching?
I smile during class! The best lesson I can teach is not to take the practice, and life, so seriously. My favorite pose to cue is “turning up the corners of the mouth into smile-asana”. And I make it all about the students, guiding their discovery of body awareness, seeing myself as simply a reminder for them to breathe, when the real teacher begins with the student showing up on the mat.There is certainly a light-heartedness to my classes, and a constant flow of breath and movement that is curated by the gentle electricity in my playlists. You would not be surprised if during my class we break into a mini dance party between poses.
3. Hands-down, best dishes at our holiday party this year. What is your favorite dish to make and why?
Ooof - this is a tough one! As a yogini, I should say I loved all the vegan dishes, but my Canadian moral code speaks louder and I have to go with the ham, hands-down. And the guac, because, well… garlic. Favorite dish to make is definitely a comfort food - spicy coconut sweet potato soup.
4. Tell us about iRest and your guided meditation style.
iRest is short for Integrative Restoration. I like to think of it as sitting down for a cup of tea with yourself and having a conversation about your thoughts, sensations, feelings, and emotions. The best part is - you’re allowed to fall asleep! Meditation, for me, is about meeting yourself and everything that comes with it - and not just the warm fuzzy stuff - exactly where you are. Some days it’s all I can do to just take a deep breath, especially in a city that demands so much. iRest gives me the tools to inquire about what turns me on or sets me off, and helps me to find stillness as a baseline in an otherwise constantly changing environment.
5. What’s your favorite way to break a sweat?
Early morning (sober) raves! Any Daybreaker event that starts with yoga, meditation, and dancing to live music gets my juices flowing and the sweat dripping. I also love a good outdoor hike in nature.
6. How does your background in dance influence your asana?
I like to challenge myself in terms of being creative with sequences and transitions. You will never get the same class out of me twice, and I like to experiment with interesting shapes as long as it feels good - even better if it moves on the beat of the music. In my personal practice, flexibility has always come easily, so I tend to bring more focus into stabilizing poses such as standing or arm balances and tons of core work. It could be the dancer or the Aries in me, but good luck trying to keep me still for more than a couple minutes at a time. A consistent yin practice has taught me so much about the softness of my body and mind, which is a nice contrast from the rigidity and discipline of ballet.
7. I love your brand, Artful Soul Yoga, what does it mean and how do you describe your work to others?
Great question! If I met someone on the subway and had one stop to tell them what I did for work, I would say I teach yoga and meditation, and help people and businesses grow. I always imagined that I would continue to work in the arts - I have a theater, dance, and writing background - so the idea behind Artful Soul is to facilitate the discovery of our own creative expression, using the mind/body/breath as vehicles of self-inquiry. I try to integrate some sense of choice and empowerment in class and, with that, some free association of movement and thought. Whether you call yourself an artist or not, the purpose is to connect to our inherent creative nature, which brings us closer to the soul or the Self, as described in yogic philosophy.
8. You have a beautiful connection to nature. Where are your favorite weekend escapes?
I aim to retreat every 3 months, whether that’s a weekend trip upstate hiking around Blue Mountain or Bear Mountain, or week-long escape to Bali to refresh my Thai Massage training. If I desperately need to restore, I will hop on a quick flight to visit family in Ontario where there are plenty of wineries, lakes, and forests to explore. Spoiler alert: I’m planning a weekend yoga and creativity retreat in the Catskills to come in the fall!
9. Tips on finding balance in NYC:
Find your happy place. This sounds obvious and maybe cliche, but honestly, if there is a place where you can find momentary peace to reset - I like the 2nd floor of the Empire Hotel or the Bramble in Central Park, and of course, a yoga studio - then try to get there once a week. I like rituals, because it helps maintain a sense of comfort and stability amongst a constantly changing backdrop of noise and distraction. Enroll a friend to perform a ritual with you. It could be as simple as going for a walk to decompress at the end of a week and always passing by the same wall of graffiti to snap a funny photo, or going to your favorite coffee shop and treating yourself to a guilt-free chocolate croissant.
10. If you could do anything right this instant, what would it be?
I would go take a yoga class. Seriously! There’s so many great teachers in this city and I never give myself enough time to develop my personal practice. And as a teacher, it’s important to continue to be a student. Then I would roll out my hammock and bask with my journal in a meditative bliss between two trees.
11. Words to live by:
Inspired by my favorite poet, Rilke, who says to live in the questions. The answers cannot be given to us now because we would not yet be able to live them. This helps me stay humble, patient, and open to what is.
Interviewer & Photographer: Annaliese Godderz