Category Archives: Yoga

Yoga Teacher Training: The End/The Beginning

Rites of Passage
April 2013

Crazy as it seems, we are nearing the end of The Yoga Sanctuary Teacher Training Program  of  2012 – 2013.  I’m not yet at the point to sit back and try to summarize the experience.  Next month, perhaps.  Or maybe never, as summary would most certainly fall short of any meaningful assessment of what this entire process has been for all of us.  But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Somewhere over the past few weeks, we have passed through some kind of invisible door – bringing us all to a more confident space, where we are able to relax a little, have fun, to laugh at ourselves and, yes, at each other. The big thing – the really BIG THING – has been our Community Class experience, where we each choose a local Charity and teach a class for donations.  As I write this, only 3 of us have not yet completed this rite of passage.  I’ve been fortunate to attend all my fellow students’ classes and can say that, to a person, life BEFORE your Community Class and life AFTER are so different – it’s like you’ve moved to another planet.

Leading up to doing your Class, there is so much apprehension and preparation that, even those who have taught in the past have found it a challenge.  We all want so much to integrate what we have learned, and aspire to do The Yoga Sanctuary proud!  For me, well, I was terrified.  This business of teaching a class has loomed in front of me since December, as I imagined myself forgetting the names of body parts, when to inhale, when to exhale and making a complete fool of myself.  Or worse.  Tears might come.

So, I worked on my sequence diligently.  Practicing on my generous victims.  Leaning on Jennifer’s advice and wisdom.  Writing out everything I hoped I would say –  editing, questioning, refining, finalizing the sheet of paper I would use as my cue card, my crutch, should memory completely fail me during my “routine”!

Then, as surely as the birds leave in Spring to fly north, it was suddenly MY DAY.   In a vague fog, I found myself walking into the studio under my own power.  Then after a lovely talk about my Charity, the Peace River Wildlife Center, I was “up”.   Miracle of miracles, as I looked out at all those lovely, goodhearted people, and felt them ‘with me’, it was as though Tinkerbell waved her little wand and I knew that whatever happened was going to be ok.  As one of the other ‘girls’ remarked after her Class, “I felt all that good energy, saw all those friendly faces.  We were all there for Yoga and for a good cause.  I knew it was ALREADY perfect.”   That’s the peace that comes with LIFE AFTER your Community Class!

Now we are approaching ‘crunch time’ – review of our work and demonstration of what we have absorbed over the past few months.   It has become obvious that each of us has brought some strengths to the program – some have a real knack for Asana, some have had experience with the philosophical aspect of Yoga, and some are near experts on anatomy.  Safe to say, though, that everyone has been challenged – perhaps more than they expected to be.   And, haven’t we all faced the challenge!  Haven’t we all grown!

Haven’t we all opened a window and let the light shine in on us a little brighter?    It IS already perfect.


May 2013

Love the Work and See Where it Takes You

Over the past few months we “TT’s” have been deeply entrenched in the work at hand, perhaps at times feeling unequal to the task, and understandably rather self involved! Now, as we prepare to turn the last page of this life chapter, we can glance up beyond our noses and consider ‘what happens now?’.   We all have some ideas……

Laura is inspired to bring the peace of Yoga practice to women who desperately need peace.  Carol has more tools to enhance her work in Wellness Management.  Dea’s seniors will be the beneficiaries of her new skills and refreshed commitment.

Julie is full of characteristic enthusiasm, ready to bring new things to her students at home.  Ashley’s goal was to deepen her own personal practice and has found, along the way, the desire and confidence to teach.  Brandy has a dream to combine her love of Yoga with her Art.

Sally says the program has exceeded her expectations in developing her personal practice.   Sonya will infuse the wisdom of Yoga into her professional life and her photography.  And, I predict that Lynn,  after she’s had a chance to percolate on the Bhavagad Gita, will soon be emailing us from Long Island, saying “can I ask you a question….”.

Me?  Well, this experience has certainly changed me and I guess I need a little time to assimilate – sort of an extended savasana!  One thing I know for sure:  the limitations I had placed on myself have been significantly altered, my comfort zone expanded, my sights lifted.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to help others find that? Perhaps bringing Yoga to people who may never have imagined it is “for them”?  We’ll see where the path leads.

We all have some ideas, yet I think that every one of us embraces the belief that the work itself has been the reward.  We are left  with open hearts to whatever may lie ahead, as we take our places in the Yoga community, accepting the responsibility and joy of sharing what we have learned.

Very soon, the exams will be over, the celebratory gatherings will pass.  There will be hugs, well wishes and promises to stay in touch, to have lunch, to see each other in class.   Regardless of how much or how little we see each other in the future, we are forever connected and we know this is not an ending.  We’ve hardly scratched the surface on the subject of Yoga.  And the answer to the question “How long will it take me to ‘get this’” is “The rest of your life”.


Graduation Party


I couldn’t possibly sign off on this Teacher Training Blog series without expressing our deepest gratitude to Bonnie and Jennifer.  My, they are patient! They are wise.  They are loving.  They are kind.  They are fun.  They are charming and beautiful.  We are blessed to have them in our lives.  Our immediate community and our extended Yoga community are blessed by their presence.  I could go on and on, but they are also humble, and they know how we feel.




Month Three: Finding Your Voice

The Third Installment in the Blog Series written for The Yoga Sanctuary in Punta Gorda Florida.

Finding Your Voice 

In considering the topic of Finding Your Voice, I felt it more than appropriate to ask some of my fellow students to express their feelings, thoughts, observations about their own experience in the YTT program.  Their remarks appear in quotes throughout this article.

 “ As we progress though this training, the respect and gratitude I feel toward our teachers grows.  It is my intention to find and nurture my own fledgling voice so that their gift to me can become my gift to others.”

Right from the start of our Training Program, we have been reminded how important it is to ‘find your own Voice’.  Initially, I took that to mean the voice with which we would instruct our future students, should we decide to teach.  The words we would choose to cue postures, our individual styles, using our knowledge to create classes that suit our own abilities and also are appropriate for those looking to us for guidance.

As I dive deeper into the teacher training I come to realize that it’s not how ‘bendy’ you can be. It’s about being in alignment and personal growth.”

Over the past couple of months, we have waded into the deep waters of  ancient and modern wisdom from great minds, great spirits, great hearts – sifting through philosophies, concepts, and approaches to what is known as a Yoga lifestyle. We are absorbing information, gleaning values and beliefs that will become part of who we are.   Throughout this process, I’ve become aware that I am developing a much broader perspective of what it means to find your Voice – the verbal and nonverbal expression of your true Self.

I have come to believe that Finding Your Voice is grounded in Finding Your Truth – the crowning glory of self exploration and study.  Who am I, what do I believe, what are my core values, where do I find Peace?  What brings me Joy?  How do I find the center that allows me to face each day with equanimity?   And, just as important: who am I not and what no longer serves me?  What do I need to let go of?  We seek these answers for ourselves, and in the discovery, we find our Truth.

This is truly the work of a lifetime ~ isn’t it?  We struggle through data and experiential overload, considering various options and paths, hopefully, hearing ever more clearly the music that calls us to sing it with our own Voice.

More often than not, we explore alone.  But, for us, in this brief segment of our lives, we are in the good company of like minded seekers.

“We are helping each other to emerge from our cocoons, to blossom, and prepare each other to spread our wings and fly. This is the true spirit of Yoga. And we are blessed to be able to experience it”.


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Month Two: Yoga Teacher Training

This is Part 2 in a series of Blogs I wrote for The Yoga Sanctuary in Punta Gorda, Florida during last year’s teacher training program.  Please go to their website for information on all their programs and classes, as well as next year’s Teacher Training Program.

The Plot Thickens!

A month into our Teacher Training Program and two remarkable things have happened:  1) we have learned a LOT and 2) the reality of how much is involved in this teaching yoga thing is setting in!

The LOT part includes the many hours we have spent on Asana with Jennifer.  If any of us thought we knew what we were doing before, well ….. we have become disabused of that notion!  Jennifer, of course is a bit of a Rock Star when it comes to Asana and a self admitted anatomy ‘geek’.  Observing her adjusting a posture is somewhat of a miracle and feeling her adjustments in our bodies is a revelation.  We can only hope to emerge from this program with a cursory understanding of her knowledge.  But, we aspire!

We have also had the honor of a two day workshop with Yoga Master Alan Finger – wisdom and insight, with a healthy dose of humor and comradery.   Then, of course, our work with Bonnie on Chakras, Bandas, Nadis and Pranayama is intellectually challenging (wish I had studied Sanskrit in school instead of Spanish) and inspiring.  I’m both amazed and grateful that this wealth of information feels less and less foreign.  There are more frequent  ‘aha’ moments – along with some ‘duh, where have I been all my life?’ moments.

For people like me who want to ‘do well’ and want to learn all I can, there is both frustration and comfort in the increasing awareness that this is a process that does, in fact, take a lifetime.  There is always more to learn, room to grow, and experience to deepen one’s awareness.

Yoga is, after all, a way of life.  And, this is where the reality of possibly teaching Yoga comes in: it’s a responsibility not to be taken lightly.  Asana is not just a form of exercise  – it’s a road to self-awareness, balance and total health.  Breathing does not simply keep your body alive – mindful breath work directs your energy and refreshes your spirit.  Many of us have heard these concepts, but through this intensive study, they are becoming real.   DO IT.  GET TO THE MAT.  Experience the benefits of your PRACTICE.  This is a gift you give yourself, and in turn to all the people in your world.


Yoga Teacher Training – The Beginning

During my time in the Teacher Training Program at The Yoga Sanctuary in Punta Gorda, I was asked to write a blog about the program for their website.  This is the first in a series of four.

Yoga Teacher Training.  “I” becomes “We”

My name is Sherry.  I am 66 years old and I’ve been practicing Yoga for almost 30 years….with some seriousness for the past 15 years.  This is my third year practicing at the Yoga Sanctuary, and I suspect it was my experience here that put the idea of teaching into my head.

So, here I am, in December of 2012, among 11 other people, on our mats, upstairs at the Yoga Sanctuary – embarking on a journey into the study of Yoga.  Each with our individual histories, talents and reasons for being here.  Each knowing a little, all quickly realizing how much we do not know.

Am I the only one who is nervous?  Daunted by the scope of material we are expected to absorb?  And the idea – just the idea – of getting up in front of a group of silent Yogis waiting to be guided through one posture! Just ONE posture!  Well, that strikes terror in my heart.

With more than a little relief, I quickly realize that my doubts and fears are shared by the others.   We all seem to be a little unsure – some are frankly terrified.  Yet, we show up.  We carry our bags of books, we do the homework, we manage to come to the front of the room as we are called and, remarkably, before we know it, the first full weekend of classes has come to a close.

We’re all tired, but the mood of the group is decidedly different from our first meeting.  Something pretty wonderful has begun to happen. We’re forming bonds, learning from each other, encouraging each other, becoming collectively smarter, stronger and more powerful than we were alone.

Some of us have lived a long time and hope to bring a lifetime of experience to the teaching of Yoga. Some are young and hope to bring the teaching of Yoga to a lifetime of experience.  But, we are one in our desire to know more, to deepen our experience of Yoga – in all its aspects – and to incorporate that into our lives.