Leah Knippel

Frisco, TX
United States

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I'm a native Texan, born in Austin, raised in Abilene, and attended Abilene Christian University which was a launching pad for my travels throughout the world. I spent my longest time abroad in Thailand, living there cumulatively for 5 years, ultimately moving where my heart beckoned and at times broke into pieces--deep in the red light districts of Bangkok where I worked to fight the trafficking of women and children. Eventually working for a humanitarian organization, I studied my Master's degree in International Development, and continued traveling in my work and education all over the world, trying to understand this international crime and building a base of care for survivors from Thailand to Cambodia, to Nepal to the borderlands of Laos and Burma and eventually into Africa. It was during this time that I created Freedom Stones, a non-profit organization established to assist survivors of human trafficking through income generation projects, training and rehabilitation. Eventually I brought Freedom Stones to the US and began selling jewelry made by these precious women and children to help support them. Later Freedom Stones grew and merged with another organization, Not Abandoned, which still continues its good work to this day.

Upon returning from my nomadic lifestyle, I eventually met and married my best friend, Paul Knippel. In the transition years that followed I had two wonderful children, (Wren and Willow) and experienced deep healing from the extreme trauma I had witnessed in the world, as well as trauma I had endured myself. Yoga had been like a good friend to me throughout my nomadic days and had kept me centered and breathing even as I witnessed unspeakable acts of cruelty to the most innocent. Facing a small identity crisis during the hidden time of motherhood, I turned to what I knew, and a practice that helped me connect again with myself, my fellow human beings and my God. Finding myself in the suburban world of Frisco, Texas was a difficult adjustment spiritually, intellectually and culturally until I eventually found a beautiful supportive community through my church and through fellow yogis I met while getting certified as a yoga instructor.

Fast forward to 2014, my husband and I found ourselves purchasing a dream property in Frisco. It was centrally located off of Main street, with a half-acre of ground to play upon, a beautiful historic home and best of all my very own free standing studio space. Eventually a vision formed for this space and I wanted to share it. I have always had a calling to engage with people in meaningful ways and to see people transform, grow and heal. This space creates an environment where that can happen. Already we are seeing these very changes happen in small and large ways--especially within ourselves as a family, which is where it all starts. For 2016 I am looking forward to being a mommy again for the third time with the birth of my son Samuel in June. This is where the deepest yoga starts all over again for me, the practice of being present to these little ones. Hoping to be back in the swing of teaching in my own studio again by 2017.

My heart for The Sacred Space is that it will continue becoming a safe place for people to gather, practice yoga and other life-enriching activities, learn something new, and learn to be more present. In this culture of constant busy-ness, too many hand held devices, and constant distraction and consumerism, The Sacred Space provides an antidote for these societal ills by enabling sacred connections to our most authentic selves, to one another and to God. I look forward to sharing this space with you.

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