Yoga Teacher Training, a Vehicle for Change

teacherbiopicresized-5When I entered yoga teacher training in Atlanta, Georgia, in 2005, I wasn’t ready. My practice was okay, but not especially great. I leapt without looking, as was (and still sometimes is) my inclination. Before teacher training, I enrolled in an advertising portfolio school full-time while working at the District Attorney’s office. Busyness kept me from really taking a look at myself. I left the DA’s office to work in advertising, and despised my job from day one. Hives broke out all over my neck, and my appetite went away, both firsts for me. Lasting just a month before quitting and going back to my old job, I was humbled, disappointed, and confused. When a teacher I greatly respected encouraged me towards teacher training, I was blown away. Well, my ego really liked it, that I know. So, I went for it, not really thinking about why I wanted it.

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Welcoming the Gift of iRest

teacherbiopicresized-1During the silent retreat for my 200-hour teacher certification, I experienced iRest each day led by Linda Oshins, E-RYT 500.  I was five weeks past breaking my fibula while hiking in a rocky creek bed. On the third day of iRest I re-experienced the fall that caused the fracture, and my left leg straightened and lifted from the blanket supports. That movement might have prevented the fibula injury during my fall but placed my upper body and head at greater risk. I could picture and feel exactly which parts of my body had felt impact in the fall and finally understood the pattern of bruising that had followed. And while I gained this insight into the accident, I felt no pain nor any rush of adrenaline. I was calm and peaceful, lying with my fellow trainees in the dimly lit assembly hall as my neocortex made sense of the event.

From my training and practice in psychiatry, I knew that this was a form of flashback, a healing form that allowed me to integrate the previously frightening and hurtful episode into my conscious understanding. And then I smiled and thought, “iRest works! ” I thought of the clients I had been unable to help with medication and the many people I knew who had survived loss and painful events. And I smiled more broadly because I knew that relief for them was possible in a way I had never expected. Read More…


The Still Voice of the Heart

s-lopez-web_7Abandon all of these attitudes

Of wanting to prolong pleasure

And avoid suffering.

Let the heart be itself and feel

Whatever is there.

 -- The opening of verse 103, The Radiance Sutras, Vijnanabhairava

To truly open to love we must open to vulnerability. It takes courage to bare our soul. Whether giving voice to an unmet need or sharing pure joy, speaking our truth makes us vulnerable. The practice of iRest® yoga nidra meditation opens us to the still voice of the heart. What does it take to honestly open oneself to the world, our beloved, or a stranger? Courage and trust help us meet life directly and speak our truth.

Freed from clinging and avoiding,

The heart regains its poise

And revels in creation.

When I sit with someone taking the risk to be vulnerable I feel respect, intimacy, and connection. This is a moment of liberation. Tenderness erupts in my heart if I don’t cling to or avoid what the other is experiencing. Also, fear may arise naturally as I meet the unknown of how the other will meet my response. Yet in these precious moments a window opens in the heart. What was hidden comes to light. We allow intimacy to blossom in our self and others.

Plunging deep into its center,

Discover that the heart is moved

By a pulse that is everywhere.

When we live in a wholehearted way we meet life with authenticity. It is an act of love to share our authentic self from moment to moment. This intimacy may reveal the truth of our Being. Our essential qualities shine through as the heart opens and we live undefended. Listen deeply and let yourself be moved by a pulse that is everywhere. Love opens up into itself revealing the beauty and truth of who we are.

With an open heart, Stephanie Lopez

Stephanie Lopez was a long time yoga teacher and psychotherapist in Columbus, Ohio, but she recently moved to California to serve as the Director of Operations at the Integrative Restoration Institute and to lead iRest trainings internationally. For her full bio, please click here. For information on Stephanie’s upcoming iRest Level 1 training, please click here. You may contact Stephanie directly through the IRI website.



Yogi of the Month: Ann

Meet Ann, this month’s Manduka Yogi of the Month. Ann has been a long time Hatha student of Marcia Miller, practicing at Yoga on High for 15 years.   Ann is a Children’s Librarian, nature lover and this Month’s Yogi of the Month.  Thank you Ann for being an inspiring part of our community!

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For the Love of Sanskrit

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 6.53.51 AMI was just out of high school when I heard my first Sanskrit word. My best friend was dating a musician and my favorite song on his new solo guitar album had the title ‘Ahimsa’. What a peculiar sounding word. Did he make it up, I asked? “No, it’s a Sanskrit word, from one of the oldest languages in the world.” I paused for a moment, and felt that little tingle of excitement when one discovers something new and mysterious. Fascinated by its antiquity and bearing in the lineage of human communication, I entertained myself with the notion that one day I would learn this sacred language.

Fast forward almost 20 years when I would begin my study of yoga and fall in love with its mother language, which is Sanskrit!

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The Timeless Wisdom of Sanskrit

The lease on the space that would become Yoga on High was signed on October 13, 15 years ago. To mark that occasion, this blog is a reprint from YOHI’s first newsletter and schedule. Those newsletters always contained one through provoking article, this one by Martha Marcom. It’s about the timeless wisdom of Sanskrit, a thread back through YOHI history and a nod to the fact that the studies and practices done at Yoga on High are indeed timeless.

Atha—now is the time for an auspicious beginning.

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Shining Lights in the Night

It was my husband, Kevin, who put me onto it. This morning, as he was busy with his preparations to leave for China, he paused and asked if I wanted to hear about the miracle he witnessed the night before. Of course I said yes and was glad to hear his description of awe in the midst of his anxiety-filled preparations. His telling blessed me too, those few moments of sweet connection before he left to travel half way around the world.

So there I was tonight, going out in the dark to close up the chickens into the safety of their coop. They live in our orchard about 100 yards from the house. As he had done the night before I was wearing a head lamp on my forehead. In its light I could see thousands of tiny, tiny insects flying in the night. Seeing them brought to mind the Jains, a religious sect that takes the tenet of nonviolence so seriously that they wear face masks to keep from breathing in such tiny life forms. Tonight I saw how many life forms there really are in the air in front of our faces.

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Songs of Wholeness in Women’s Prison

Women'sPrisonProgramShall I write about their crimes? Their gross errors in judgment? Poor timing? Bad luck? Shall I tell stories of the children they cannot mother? The families left behind?   Perhaps I should write about their suffering, the trauma, the dysfunction that has, without exception, helped to land them here – sitting in this circle with me – behind bars. As I begin to teach, fluorescent lights hum, and from outside the door, sounds of shuffling feet and voices mix with the loud static discharge of handheld radios and the metallic rattle of keys.   The dissonance of sounds in this place, ubiquitous. Never a moment’s rest.

I sit in this circle every Friday with the women prisoners. In a make-shift classroom that serves as our yoga and mediation studio. Some are here for months, some for years, some for the rest of their lives.

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The Center is the Dancing Ground

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 4.43.52 PMDuring my meditation, I was imagining my body as a musical instrument. I was dealing with a host of confusing emotions this morning, and I didn’t want to take them into my day undigested. I lay down to feel it all, even the uncomfortable parts. And even though there was a strong desire to be present to and welcome it all, I could also feel a slight resistance to the painful parts. My chest and upper belly were tight and constricted and kind of gurgly. The sensations were moving around in a way that felt a little scary.

Then the image came of myself as a piano—through which all kinds of music is played without choice—“choiceless awareness” I think Krishnamurti called it. I almost made myself laugh imagining a piano that only wants pleasant music played on it: “No, no, not that wild dark song—I only want cheerful Mozart pieces.” But what piano would want to miss out on the Piano Concerto by Tchaikovsky? Or Rachmaninoff? Read More…

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