Attorney takes to air while pursuing goal

By Tom Kirvan

Legal News

For attorney Kristy Deskovitz, there definitely is a higher purpose to her future career plans.

That, of course, does not discount the importance of her current legal work with TD Auto Finance, the former Chrysler Financial that was acquired by the Canadian-based TD Bank in 2011.

A former associate with Dickinson Wright in Bloomfield Hills, Deskovitz readily admits that she enjoys the daily challenge of her regulatory and corporate responsibilities with TD Auto Finance, whose sprawling office on the north side of I-696 in Farmington Hills serves as its U.S. headquarters.

Yet, the 34-year-old Deskovitz hopes someday to take another step up the proverbial career ladder, opening a yoga studio where she can continue her teaching of an age-old discipline that focuses on physical, mental, and spiritual growth. It will serve to complement the intellectual challenge and fast-paced practice of the law - her other passion.

Deskovitz, a 2000 graduate of the University of Michigan, became a certified yoga instructor in 2006 during her final year at Wayne State University Law School.

"I became involved in yoga right before law school, attending a class with my aunt, who had long practiced yoga," said Deskovitz, who grew up in the Downriver area and graduated from Gabriel Richard High School in Riverview. "That first class was a challenge, but I remember leaving it feeling remarkably better and energized. I was hooked from that point on."

After joining Dickinson Wright upon graduation from Wayne Law, Deskovitz began teaching an after-hours yoga class in a conference room of the firm's Bloomfield Hills office, drawing upward of 20 students to the weekly sessions.

"I was the first attorney to ever offer a class at the firm and I was encouraged by the number of participants who turned out," said Deskovitz, who has traveled to India to study yoga. "The students were virtually all women, mostly from the support staff, but there were several attorneys who took it to heart. Teaching that class boosted my confidence and gave me a feeling that I could take it to the next level if I ever wanted to in the future."

She eventually became involved in teaching aerial yoga, a relatively new type that "uses hammocks to help students achieve the traditional yoga positions," according to Deskovitz.

"Aerial yoga is becoming increasingly popular because it allows students to explore certain postures more readily than by other yoga practices," Deskovitz explained. "The hammock can help students hold their bodies in various yoga positions, as the weight of their body is being either partially or fully supported by the apparatus that is rigged to beams in the ceiling. Some of the poses are done in hammocks two to three feet off the ground, while others are done with students standing upside down, feet suspended in the air while hooked to the hammocks."

In some respects, the silk hammocks function like swings, offering added support for basic postures and providing advanced students increased flexibility and balance while in various upside-down positions designed to stretch the spine, Deskovitz indicated.

She currently teaches weekly classes at the Grosse Pointe Yoga Shelter Studio located on Kercheval Street, guiding students through five-week sessions on Sunday afternoons. She also leads a non-aerial yoga class on Wednesday mornings at the Birmingham Yoga Shelter Studio.

"There is a waiting list for the aerial yoga class, but I also offer one-on-one instruction or private group lessons," Deskovitz said. "The health benefits of aerial yoga are amazing in terms of increased flexibility, improved core strength, and as a stress reducer. And it is a lot of fun. I refer to it as adult recess."

The youngest of three children, Deskovitz has two older brothers, Mark and Peter, and sports an adventuresome spirit, a trait she perhaps inherited from her parents, Linda and Pete.

Between college and law school, Deskovitz spent two years in Boulder, Colo., serving as an office manager for a small law firm that specialized in criminal defense work. Two years ago, she returned to Colorado to work for a company that offers troubled youth and young adults a chance to redeem themselves in a high-altitude, rugged wilderness setting - and Outward Bound type of experience that even put Deskovitz to the test.

"I spent 10 days of training in the mountains in January (2011) and it really was a survival-mode situation," Deskovitz said. "We had to build our own shelters, start fires from sticks, and literally claw our way up snow-covered slopes. It was intense."

But once "trained," Deskovitz found herself equipped to handle the rigors of tough-love teaching, sharing her new-found survival skills with a sometimes less than receptive audience, eventually giving her the confidence in January 2012 to conquer Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest free-standing mountain in the world at 19,341 feet.

"Those we worked with were not there of their own choosing," Deskovitz said. "They were sent there by their families, so it was not always easy to get them to fully cooperate. For many of them, it was the first time they had ever been in the mountains, far away from the comforts of home. In that kind of setting, you tend to learn in a hurry."

During the time that she lived in Durango, located in the Four Corners area of southwest Colorado, Deskovitz continued to teach aerial yoga, setting the stage for her return to Michigan later that year.

"I was fortunate to enjoy that wilderness assignment while being able to work remotely (for TD Auto Finance) from Durango," Deskovitz related. "It was a great experience, and I learned a lot about myself while meeting some fabulous people at the same time. It was an experience that I will treasure.

Published: Thu, Nov 22, 2012

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