self acceptance

iRest® Yoga Nidra Meditation: A Living Practice of Connection & Belonging

 

s-lopez-web_7By Stephanie Lopez 
This blog was originally published in the Accessible Yoga Conference newsletter in 2016.

In the course of daily life how often do we feel unseen, disconnected, and disempowered? For many this is an all too frequent experience.

People practice yoga and meditation to discover a sense of ease, balance, and purpose. I believe there is a deeper motivation as well; a longing for connection with one’s self and rest of the world. I’ve found this yearning is satisfied through iRest Yoga Nidra. This transformative yet simple practice uncovers an undeniable ground of well-being and interconnectedness. It brings forth a direct sense of wholeness that is unchanging regardless of life’s circumstances.

iRest is a modern adaptation of the ancient practice of yoga nidra and was developed by Richard Miller, a clinical psychologist and researcher, as well as yogic scholar and author. iRest comprises a full path of meditation with 3 core principles: the practice of welcoming, seeing everything as a messenger, and an essential wholeness or ground of being. These principles are woven through the 10 steps of the protocol forming a potent and healing meditation practice.

As we learn iRest we begin by welcoming everything just as it is. To practice welcoming is to abide in nonjudgmental presence and simply allow whatever arises in our mind. We learn that welcoming is not an extra something we do. Rather, it is an essential aspect of being human.

In contrast, struggle is accompanied by tension, contraction, anger, and fear. At its heart is the desire to have things other than what they are. You push away what you don’t want and cling to what you desire. There is no denying this pain and struggle but iRest meditation teaches us to meet these experiences without trying to fix or change them. Imagine the fierce grace of meeting pain as pure physical sensation and gently accepting the emotions and beliefs it engenders. Yet, simply feeling into and allowing pain to emerge can bring a shift in its intensity.

What happens when we let go of the struggle with life? What happens when we simply allow its challenges, heartbreak, and beauty? In my experience there is a release of tension, an opening to freedom, and joy in full presence of all movements of life. At the heart of this welcoming is an ease of being untouched by life’s movements. This is an underlying wholeness that cannot be broken.

In the practice of iRest we meet life fully through this combination of welcoming and ease of being. We navigate difficult emotions, beliefs, and memories with an Inner Resource to rely upon when they become overwhelming. We also come into new insight when our sensations, emotions, and beliefs are seen as messengers. Experiencing them fully develops and deepens a connection with the self. We come into loving and compassionate relationship with ourselves. You’re able to hear your voice and what is being asked for on the deepest levels. It is in this state of iRest meditation that habitual patterns are broken and you develop clear and novel responses to life’s challenges.

Through this compassionate welcoming you develop connection with all parts of yourself and begin to live authentically. There is trust in who you are and what you do -- and this belonging with yourself flows into a connection with others. As you live life fully and with an undefended heart you develop a sense of belonging in the world. This intimacy with yourself and others empowers you to live life to its fullest potential.

At the heart of every person is an ease of being and wholeness that has never been broken. I cherish this practice and its simple ability to shine the healing light of truth of who we are.

Stephanie Lopez is leading iRest Yoga Nidra Level 1 Training at Yoga on High April 19 -- 23.  Learn more about this training here.

Stephanie Lopez, LISW-S, is Director of Operations for the Integrative Restoration Institute (IRI), Senior iRest® Trainer and IRI Retreat Leader. Stephanie’s teachings are informed by over two decades of immersion in the non-dual teachings of yoga as well as her integration of western psychology and the wisdom traditions of eastern spirituality. As a clinical social worker Stephanie weaves self-inquiry and iRest meditation into her clinical practice. Teaching for nearly 15 years, Stephanie’s compassionate presence, depth of knowledge, and ease of being create a welcoming space for insightful learning. She leads workshops, retreats, and trainings in the U.S. and internationally. Stephanie finds joy in her marriage with her husband, Francisco, and their two cats, Juniper & Luna. She is also an avid traveler and hiker.

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Christen Boyles: Venture Inward

Christen BoylesBy chance, or perhaps by divine intervention, I stumbled into a semester-long yoga class in college. I knew nothing about yoga at the time. I knew I had anxiety. I knew I was overwhelmed. I remember that class being the only two hours of my week when I felt like I could breathe.

At the end of that semester, I graduated and left on a retreat-like road trip by myself across the country. Life was quiet and simple for a month, and a trip that I had thrown together at the last minute ended up being life-changing. I packed a $10 yoga mat (which I still use to this day) and rolled it out on dusty campsites for 30 days. At some point, I decided I wanted to share this practice with other people.

On a 1,400 foot peak In Utah, I met a group of friends and discovered that myself and the two girls in the group share the same birthday. Divine intervention? One was a yoga teacher. Divine intervention.

Before I knew it, I was back home and walking into my first night of teacher training at the Yoga On High Teacher Training Institute. An elaborate mandala of candles and flowers was spread out on the floor and we all chose a seat around the circle. None of us could have imagined the journey we were about to embark on together.

The knowledge shared
Friendships formed
Tears cried
Hands held
Epiphanies reached
Lives changed

I learned how to teach yoga. I learned how to adjust poses and sequence classes. But most importantly, I learned to venture inward in search of myself. I learned to be in silence whether it was comfortable or not. I learned to look fear in the face and do it anyway. I learned to quiet my mind. I learned why people cry on yoga mats.

I laughed, cried, felt vulnerable, got frustrated, and through it all, I was always surrounded by a community of people who supported me, reminded me to forgive myself and to always go forward.

I still feel the support of that community as I navigate each new experience as a yoga teacher. I feel the impact of those 9 months with me everyday.

I am eternally grateful.

Christen2Christen Boyles graduated from the Yoga on High Teacher Training Institute in 2016. She teaches Hatha yoga and is passionate about teaching students who are just beginning their yoga practice. She is also interested in the ways that yoga can help students cope with stress and anxiety.

Our next 200 Hour Teacher Training program begins March 17. For more information, join us at our upcoming Free Info Session Sunday, February 19th from 12:00p to 12:45p with Michele Vinbury at Yoga on High. To apply or for questions, contact Breanna at applications@yogaonhigh.com

Watch Yoga on High Teacher Training video here.

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EMBER Yoga program in action at the Ohio Reformatory for Women

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Annette Dominguez is Director of Tapestry, Therapeutic Program at the Ohio Reformatory for Women

November 7, 2016
To Who It May Concern,

I am writing this letter in support of the EMBER Yoga program here at the Ohio Reformatory for Women. The program began in April of 2014 and is facilitated by Michele Vinbury and Marybeth Hamilton. Each cohort provides weekly services for up to 12 participants of the Tapestry Therapeutic Community. Tapestry is a holistic treatment program for women with substance abuse issues. The program is highly structured and community focused. Most program members have an extensive history of physical, emotional and sexual abuse making the need for trauma informed care an imperative.

The EMBER program has made such a positive impact on the lives of the women who have had the opportunity to be involved. The women have gained new tools for effectively addressing their difficult experiences and finding ways to mitigate their feelings while staying engaged and receptive to change. Being able to share that journey with their peers while being gently guided by the compassion and expertise of their instructors, has fostered a deeper sense of community among participants. This support helps members feel both empowered and connected.

The impact of EMBER is evident in our community in so many ways. Members who practice meditation and speak with their sisters about the benefits, sisters who have found the courage to share their experiences on a deeper level and peers who find the ability to trust that whatever is painful, is less so when surrounded by those who understand how hope can carry you through.

It is that same hope that drives us to advocate for the continuation of the EMBER program here at ORW. Our members have come to think of the yoga sessions as an integral part of our program, an experience that each sister aspires to be a part of. Michele and Marybeth are family to us and are part of the fabric of our community. Their generosity and commitment to our family is beyond compare. Their sincerity is without question and their belief that touching lives, saves lives, is a mantra we can all live by.

Sincerely,

Annette Dominguez
Tapestry Program Director

Inspired by what you’ve read?  You can support the Yoga on High Foundation’s important work by attending our Daylong Wellness Retreat this Friday, November 11th or donating at www.yogaonhighfoundation.org/donate.

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Coming Out Comes Full Circle

By: Daniel Sernicola

awardMy hand shook as it unfastened my seatbelt. I slowly climbed out the broken window of my overturned car and examined the wreckage. Tires were still spinning and Jim Brickman’s Rocket to the Moon was playing on a continuous loop from the speakers. The roof of the car was smashed down to the driver’s seat. Help was needed, but on the quiet back road in my hometown it was unlikely to arrive quickly. I slowly walked towards a house that sat back from the road and standing on its porch, knocked on the door. No one was home.

A woman’s voice screamed, “There he is!” As I turned around, people were coming out of the woods where they had been looking for my body. The woman ran towards me and held me as tears ran down her face. She whispered in my ear that God must have been with me. A man placed me in his truck and drove me to my home just a few miles away. I was numb and could barely remember how to get there as I gave him directions.

My dad was in the kitchen cooking pasta as he did every Sunday. As I stood next to the man, he knocked on my parents’ door and told my dad that I had been in an accident. My dad calmly thanked the man for bringing me home and put down his spoon as he prepared to put on his shoes. Anger filled his face and the veins in his forehead were popping out – I just wrecked a car owned for three short weeks. Yet, he didn’t say a word as he grabbed his keys and drove me back to the scene of the accident.

As we pulled up, we saw the flashing lights from police cars and an ambulance. We got out of the car and the moment my dad saw the wreckage, he grabbed me, holding me tight and sobbing. It’s the only time I ever saw my dad cry. Thoughts of anger turned to compassion as police told him I was lucky to be alive.

Home from the hospital, I rested on our living room couch. Looking over at the coffee table, I saw my keys and began to scream and cry wondering what had happened and trying to piece together a sequence of events.

I was a senior in high school during the fall of 1996. It was October 12th and there was excitement as the camera flashed during my senior photo session. An hour later I had a date. Sure I had been on dates with girls before, but this was the first time I went on a date with a guy. I was nervous, but as the night progressed I realized that we were basically two guys hanging out and having fun. It was care-free and on the drive home, I couldn’t stop smiling.

From the age of four years, I recall feeling different and looking at other boys. The word, “gay” wasn’t part of my vocabulary and wasn’t talked about in our home, though I remember my mother and sister laughing at a very flamboyant man selling his items at a yard sale. Kids at school made fun of me calling me the dreaded “f” word. In my conservative church, sermons preached that homosexuality was wrong and a sin. Confusion filled my mind as I struggled to fight off feelings of attraction towards the same sex. Hours of prayer didn’t erase the feelings as they became stronger and more intense. I wrestled with feeling that even though I was born gay, everyone around me told me it was wrong.

I was on my way to church the morning of the accident. It also happened to be the day after my first same sex date. In my 17-year-old mind, the only sense I could make out of everything that took place was that my maker was punishing me for finally acting on my feelings. It wasn’t fair! I may have walked away from the accident with a concussion and no broken bones, but one thing was broken for sure; my spirit.

The following week at school, I passed notes back and forth in my Algebra class with one of my best friends. I decided to tell her about my date, knowing she would be accepting of me. It felt amazing to finally share with someone the secret I’d been keeping for my entire existence. I had an outlet in her to discuss my thoughts and feelings. It was enough.

A few weeks later, I knew something was different as I walked down the hallways of my high school and people turned away from their lockers to look at me, whispering to each other. It was surreal and appeared to happen in slow motion. This was interrupted by a football player knocking my books out of my hands and my belongings being scattered all over the floor. My friend’s boyfriend found one of our notes in her locker and shared it with the rest of the school. Being bullied was not new to me, but I wasn’t prepared for the year that was ahead of me.

I was beaten up weekly and weighing 140 pounds, it was futile to fight back. I’d take the punches and kicks waiting, hoping for the torment to end. When I finally had the courage to talk to school administration, I was told that I brought everything on myself since coming out. My parents, sensing something was wrong and knowing of my gay friend, started asking if I was gay. Finally, I told them the truth, my truth. They weren’t accepting, but witnessed my intense emotional pain and depression. A trip to the family doctor was supposed to help, but instead worsened my situation. I was put on heavy anti-depression and anxiety medications which brought on suicidal thoughts and feelings. I tried taking my life a few times and, fortunately, I survived. Later, I stopped the meds on my own having realized that prior to being on them I had never once thought of ending my life. A year later, reports were published stating that the two medications I was on caused suicidal thoughts in people under the age of 18.

My entire world as I knew it had changed and it felt like I had no control over anything. There was also the heavy feeling of being alone. My family, peers, church, and my maker all seemed to have abandoned me. Hope didn’t seem to exist, and I was beaten down.

meditation20 years later, it’s 2016. I’ve been out as a gay man for over half my life and I’m 37 years old. Life has changed. My family is now accepting; I’m surrounded by loving and supportive friends; and best of all, have my own family consisting of an incredibly amazing partner and big, goofy dog. Society has changed. Gay marriage is legal in all 50 states when it seemed like a huge and unfathomable dream at one time. Ellen DeGeneres now has the number one talk show in the country after her sitcom was cancelled in 1997 when she came out. And schools now have gay/straight alliances and student groups.

It appears everything is moving in a positive direction, but sadly, this isn’t the case. As a society, we witnessed the shootings at Pulse Night Club in Orlando this past summer. We also saw the State of North Carolina pass an anti-transgender restroom law. While we hope that youth don’t have to face the same situations I went through twenty years ago, the truth is that they are facing worse situations. Behind the closed doors of the family unit, parents are still struggling with acceptance of their LGBTAIQ+ children.

A few years ago when my partner, Jake Hays, and I began our 200-hour yoga teacher training, we were asked what groups we’d like to work with and what our goals were as teachers. We immediately thought of LGBTAIQ+ youth and decided we wanted to start a yoga program for them in Columbus. Through our practice teaching, we held classes and asked participants for donations to the Yoga on High Foundation that would be earmarked for this program. The Columbus Coyotes and local performers Nina West and Virginia West also helped raise money to go towards the development of this program.

Kaleidoscope Youth Center was thrilled when we approached them with our idea as yoga classes had been on the list of programs they desired. We made fliers with our standard publicity photos on them, and were excited when the first night of our classes finally came. Not one student wanted to come to yoga. We were saddened, but not defeated. We realized that in our photos, we are big guys and look exactly like some of the people who bully the youth on a daily basis. So, I went to the center to meet with the youth. Through tears, I shared every detail of my personal story hoping to make a connection with them. The following week we tried again and the room was packed!

mindfulness-practiceWho are the youth of Kaleidoscope? They are you and me. They have had to face adversity and trauma at young ages. Many have had horrific struggles including bullying, homelessness, human trafficking, rape and more. Yet, they have hopes, dreams, and bright eyes ready to conquer the world. They come to their mats each week, looking forward to the peace and calm the yoga program provides.

The yoga program was developed specifically for them and has evolved and changed to meet their needs. Kaleidoscope Youth Yoga incorporates a variety of yoga tools including physical postures, mindfulness practices, breathing exercises, meditation, relaxation and Reiki. The program is designed to inspire and empower the youth, offering them an opportunity to begin to heal from difficult life experiences. Through these practices, students are invited to find a connection to their true self by learning valuable coping skills in addition to fitness and body positivity in a safe environment infused with compassion, humor and empathy.

Together, we practice yoga and their personal stories slowly come to the surface. In the spring a young male to female transgender youth showed up to class in a dress, proudly proclaiming that she’s probably our first student to practice in a dress. We shared her pride, knowing the dress was more than clothing to her, it was an identity. We celebrated as a girl who was homeless and has practiced with us for over a year was excited to tell us that she was able to graduate high school and moving into her first apartment. And the meaning of joy was realized when another girl rested in savasana receiving Reiki for the first time. At first, her face showed pain and uncertainty. As soon as she felt Reiki, the corners of her mouth turned upward and she beamed, later proclaiming that Reiki made her feel safe. These are just some of the stories and there’s many, many more to tell. We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve practiced yoga – together.

On October 2nd, the Board of Directors of Kaleidoscope Youth Center, upon the recommendation of staff and participants, presented Jake and me with an award of Distinguished Community Partner of 2016. Amy Eldridge, Executive Director of Kaleidoscope stated, “The Yoga program that you have established at Kaleidoscope is a tremendous contribution to the well-being of our youth, and is providing them with skills that will support their well-being well into the future.”

It seems fitting that this takes place twenty years after my own coming out as a gay teenager. It feels as though everything has come full circle and yet we know there’s more work to do. As Robert Frost so eloquently wrote, The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.

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Welcome Space

 Natalie_Adams_yogaonhigh“What did I receive?” This was the question we were asked to contemplate on our graduation day from Yoga on High 200-hour Teacher Training Program. Without thinking, I took pen to paper and quickly wrote the first word that came to mind.

SPACE.

Wait. What? I wasn’t expecting that. It was a crazy, busy 9 months. I felt pulled in all sorts of directions—balancing teacher training with being a mom, a full time employee, and a wife….I often joke that those 9 months were harder than BOTH of my pregnancies.

But I sat with this word, and just wrote whatever came to my mind without over-thinking (I’m a yoga teacher now; I’m not supposed to “over-think” right?). Thoughts came pouring in, and are still pouring in since graduation 2 months ago.

Every Thursday night for 9 months, I had the space to learn about my favorite thing in the world—yoga: yoga anatomy, yoga adjustments, yoga alignment and yoga class planning. I assisted in classes with the some of the best teachers in Columbus, and learned how to take the 8 limbs of yoga off the mat.

I was like a kid in a candy store, taking in as much as I could, learning that there is so much I didn’t know (and still don’t)! Just when I thought I mastered how to cue downward facing dog, I quickly learned that there are about 50 other cues. This was simply the tip of the iceberg. Yoga is a life-long journey of self-inquiry and I’m in it for the long haul.

I found a space to share with people exactly like me. The kind of people who chant “om” loudly without worrying about what others are thinking. I met people who have been affected by yoga on a deeply personal level, who shared their stories of how yoga changed their lives and their desire to give back to a practice that has given them so much. We laughed hard and some of us (me!), cried hard. It was during these moments that a deep family bond formed, one that will never be broken. Even though we’ve graduated and do not see each other weekly, when I see them, it’s like no time has passed at all. We pick up right where we left off. We have each other’s back and support one another as we embark on this next stage of our lives. We truly are better together.

Teacher training gave me the space to let go and have fun! When will you ever have a chance to blow bubbles in total silence at a weekend silent retreat? Or chant so loud at kirtan that you just have to get up and dance? Or laugh uncontrollably while learning adjustments….I put my hand where??? The fun made the hard work worth it. I will carry these memories with me for the rest of my life.

But it wasn’t always easy. I also found space to learn my limits. I was stretched more than I ever thought I could imagine. I am someone who always thrived on being busy and “having it all,” but this was TOUGH. Between teacher training sessions every Thursday, assisting in yoga classes, practice teaching and a weekend silent retreat, it almost pushed me over the edge.

Through all the chaos, I literally thought I was losing it, but really, I was finding it. For the first time ever, I learned to say “no” when I couldn’t take on just one more thing, or to forgive myself if I wanted to skip practice in order to spend time with my husband and daughters. I learned that when I operate from a place of self-love and acceptance, that I am free. THAT, my friends, is the space!

During the program, I often asked myself, “am I am on the right track?” “Do I really want to do this?” “Is it worth it?” “Can I realllly do this?” All I knew is that I loved yoga. I’ll always love yoga. Yoga gives me space; space in my body and in my mind. When I’m on my mat, I feel safe, vulnerable, and at peace. I want to hold space for students to have their own journey. That’s what kept me going through training and keeps me going as I begin my journey as a new yoga teacher.

Finally, and most importantly, teacher training gave me space to love myself. Once I found this love, I was able to start fully receiving love from others; the deep love of my husband and daughters regardless of whether or not I was home to fix dinner every day; the love and support from my friends outside of yoga who came to practice teach sessions, who celebrated with me when I passed my final certification, and who were patient with my when I was just too tired to see them. Even if they didn’t always get it, it didn’t matter. They love me and that is enough.

If I never teach another class, this experience; my teachers, my classmates, this practice, will be etched in my heart forever. If you’ve ever thought of taking this journey, jump in with both feet. No regrets. Be brave with your life. Follow your heart.

Namaste.

Natalie Adams is a recent grad of Yoga on High’s 200 Hour Teacher Training program.

Michele-2041e_playOur next 200 Hour Teacher Training program begins September 9th.  For more information, join us at our upcoming Free Info Session this Sunday, August 28 from 12:00p to 12:45p at the Teacher Training Institute. To apply or for questions, contact Breanna at applications@yogaonhigh.com

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Welcome Trust

image1I had no idea if it was the right time to become a yoga instructor. A spell of feelings: self-doubt, intimidation, insecurity, anticipation. What did I have to offer that other 200-hour teachers out there didn’t have? Would I enter a saturated teaching scene with nothing unique to share? When I was considering joining Yoga on High’s 200 Hour Teacher Training Program, I solicited everybody I encountered for their advice. Do you think I should go for it? Do you think I have the time? Is my practice advanced enough? Am I ready? I received boundless advice, but it was my own fortitude that got me to take the leap of faith. ‘A leap of faith’ is exactly what I would call my entire 200 Hour Teacher Training experience at Yoga on High. I was never ready; I was never sure my practice was advanced enough, if I had the time, or even if it was the right time, but I had to take the leap of faith to figure it out. I couldn’t be more grateful that I did.

I found trust. I had to trust that while it felt like I didn’t know half of what I thought I knew about yoga, I was in the right place at Yoga on High. Surrounded by knowledgeable mentors, experienced teachers, and my fellow teacher trainees, I was given all the tools to dive as deep as I wanted into the sea of transformation. I trusted in myself that I would always find a way to accomplish everything I needed to, when I needed to. The 9-month program is perfectly crafted to propose new content in a digestible way and I trusted that there was plenty of time to know it all.

I found comfort. Teacher training taught me to truly find balance between ease and effort in practice and in teaching. I learned to dedicate myself to proper alignment to achieve comfort in even the most modest of postures. My teachers, Michele Vinbury and Marcia Miller, taught me comfort in the fluctuating state of the mind that has translated off the mat into daily life in more ways than I imagined.

I found fearlessness. Being in the role of an instructor and giving the gift of yoga to another person is an incredible responsibility. It felt unnatural to be judged on my teaching because teaching yoga isn’t supposed to be about me, it’s about my students! Overcoming that required a certain amount of audacity as did simply standing up in front of a room of students. Each lesson of the program helped me get to that place of fearlessness all on my own.

image2 (1)I found healing. I began this adventure with the intention of healing others and I ended with also healing myself. We all come into teacher training with our own experiences and circumstances. Life did not stop when I signed up for 200 Hour Teacher Training. I was not in a bliss bubble for nine months protected from all of life’s highs and lows. Yet still, I became better equipped to face life’s challenges and I broke down rigidity I had been holding onto in my heart. I have so many salient memories of moments over the course of the training that helped me unravel truths about myself. On a particular Monday night, I was assisting Anne Weidinger’s Hot Flow class and was completely overcome with awe witnessing the students in the room moving together with their collective breath. One morning I remember practice teaching a guided meditation in Savasana to a group of beginning yogis, and when I closed my eyes, I could feel their peace. Moments like these proved that I am enough and I do have something unique to offer this world. We all do.

If you are considering going through your teacher training, I propose the idea that it will never be the right time. It will always be a leap of faith. That’s the beauty of it and you just have to do it to let the mystery unfold.

Brittny Manos is a Research Coordinator in Adolescent Medicine at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and a graduate of Yoga on High’s 200 Hour Teacher Training Program. With a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, she has arranged her life around health and wellness and yoga is an extension of that. Brittny aims to awaken a new sense of freedom in the mind, body, and breath for her students through dynamic Vinyasa flows and guided meditations.

Michele-2041e_playOur next 200 Hour Teacher Training program begins September 9th.  For more information, join us at our upcoming Free Info Session Sunday, August 28 from 12:00p to 12:45p at the Teacher Training Institute. To apply or for questions, contact Breanna at applications@yogaonhigh.com

 

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Welcome Self-Inquiry

Abigail_Love_Teacher TrainingAbigail_Love_Teacher Training3After graduating from Ohio University I moved to Columbus to start my career as a nurse. Before moving, I was introduced to Yoga on High by a dear friend. Yoga on High quickly became how I built a sense of community in my new city. I immediately fell in love with the studio because of its central location, the sense of welcoming I felt as soon as I entered its doors, and the diversity of intelligent, passionate people attending the studio.

As my love for yoga grew, I was approached by my teachers at Yoga on High about my practice. They asked me if I was considering teacher training. My dream was to escape the city and do the training in an exotic location, and Yoga on High was doing their first Intensive in Costa Rica. I knew that was right for me because it would allow me to balance my career with the perfect learning experience. An added bonus was that I could share the experience with Taylor, a good friend from Columbus.

Once Taylor and I arrived in Costa Rica, we immediately felt relaxed and mentally prepared for the journey ahead. We both needed a break from our busy lives in the city and the time to focus on ourselves. The program was scheduled through three intensive, 3-hour class sessions each day, with breaks in between. We spent one week at three different locations. The first week we were in the rainforest at a biodynamic farm where we focused on the root chakra, the root of yoga, and the root of our practice. The second location was on a mountainside at an Eco-lodge facing the south pacific where we brought in the element of fire with the third chakra, the will power of our practice, and cultivated the authority to teach others. The last location was at a very luxurious beach resort with lush surroundings. Our room faced the beach and we could hear the waves crashing constantly. Here, we had reached bliss as a group – the sixth and seventh chakra. We learned to integrate all of the teachings, find our authentic voice, let our intuition guide us, and allow yoga to unify our life.

Jasmine and Michele provided just the right amount of challenge and support for each of our journeys. I never felt alone in the process or stifled by the pressure or expectations placed upon me throughout the program. It also helped to have by friend Taylor there as someone to lean on when I was feeling lost and it helped that we could decompress together. If you have the opportunity to take teacher training with a friend, I would recommend it!

I would say the most foundational thing I learned about my personal practice is to be OK with “backing-off” or taking a break when my mind or body needs me to. It is A LOT to practice yoga intensely three times a day, but because of my character, I immediately saw it as a challenge. I plan to use this lesson with my students by giving them the option to do less in order to feel more. My practice actually progressed immensely from this lesson because I am no longer holding that tension in my mind or my body. I was able to find ease and go further into what I sought or yearned for in my practice.

Abigail Love began her yoga journey at age 12. From an early age, she found that yoga helped adapt to body changes, improve self-confidence and build healthy relationships. Abigail is a nurse and sees yoga as a method of healing. She hopes her yoga classes will empower students to find harmony in their lives.

TT_Video-02Our next 200 Hour Teacher Training program begins September 9th.  For more information, join us at our upcoming Free Info Session Sunday, August 28 from 12:00p to 12:45p at the Teacher Training Institute. To apply or for questions, contact Breanna at applications@yogaonhigh.co

 

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Practicing with Rodney through Tough Times

Rodney_MokuRodney Yee and his yoga DVD helped me through one of the most difficult times in my life. I had become addicted to cocaine and had decided that I needed to find sobriety. I declined help at any rehabilitation centers as I knew my addiction was one that I needed to conquer on my own. I could not be trusted to be around anyone who had the same problem I had. I was a manipulative drug addict with a heart as cold as ice.

I had a yoga DVD of Rodney Yee and started to practice with it daily. Faithfully every morning I settled on to my mat, focused on my breath and moved my body along with the cueing from the DVD. I had never done yoga before but explored every pose that I could and watched the more difficult poses with no thought that I would or would not explore those poses later. I think I just assumed that one day I might give that crow pose a try, but for today…..I will just do all I can do. There were days that I actually got on my mat more than once as a way to take my mind to that place where I began feeling secure, comfortable and welcomed.

A long story short, this little DVD led me to where I am today in my yoga practice, and although I am just scratching the surface of this journey I could not have been happier to be allowed to take a workshop with the amazing man who actually helped me through my sobriety. Every day of my life that man was with me, leading me to a place that was far better than any cocaine high I had explored.

He has no idea the impact he has had on my life, and at the end of the workshop he asked for one more person to help with adjustments in his and Colleen’s open class. I could not help but raise my hand. I knew I was way out of my league but could not pass up the chance to actually spend a few more hours learning from these two brilliant teachers.

I may not be the only one Rodney has helped via his DVDs. Everyone has a story….I may never get the chance to thank him for being with me every day on my road to sobriety, but I send love and light when I think about that journey and how I made it through.

MokuJacquie is an RYT-200 and currently enrolled in the 300-hour Teacher Training program at Yoga on High, deepening her knowledge and understanding of yoga practices and philosophy in workshops lead by some of the best teachers in the country. She teaches a deep-release yoga class at Yoga on High and a slow flow yoga class at Grow Yoga. For her full bio, please click here.

Join Rodney Yee for his teacher training workshop: Yoga Practice and Therapeutics September 14-16 at Yoga on High. Or, try Rodney and Colleen’s Urban Zen open class Wednesday evening, September 14th.

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Adventures in Teacher Training: Teresa Eigle

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 8.52.20 PMIt’s hard to believe I am more than halfway through this amazing journey that is my yoga 200 hour teacher training at Yoga on High. I came into yoga teacher training wanting to deepen my own practice. That goal still remains. Halfway through I am still not sure whether I want to teach, but I am 110% sure I have accomplished my goal…with still so much more to learn and absorb from my teachers and fellow students. If I teach, my purpose and motivation will be to spread the power of yoga to as many people as I can. Observing a roomful of students settling into Savasana and relaxing as a consequence of your voice is pretty freaking amazing…thinking about it gives me the chills.

My own regular practice began about 5 years ago, when I decided I should start stretching more after I exercised. At the time, to me (and still to so many), yoga was merely a means of becoming more flexible and stronger. I would power through a class, cranking myself into the deepest adaption of each pose I could. The sweatier I was after class, the better. The sorer I was after a class, the better. I look back now and smile with gratitude that yoga entered my life at all…and at the fact that my practice has taken a 180 degree turn since then. Read More…

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Adventures in Teacher Training: Stacy Abbott

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 8.40.22 PMVery suddenly I quit my demanding corporate job. Thirty-seven years young, mother of 3—it was time to re-assess priorities. A crossroads, and, on the other side, balance. This was my intention. I would say, “Someday I will make yoga a priority.” Someday was now. And by ‘now,’ I meant ‘right this very second.’ Then all would make sense, the moon & stars would align and my world would be full of everything blissful, right?

I knew I wanted to go to the ‘yoga mecca’…the highly respected YOHI for teacher training. But as it turned out, I had just missed the start of a class and the next one wasn’t for 7 more months. Obviously I couldn’t wait 7 more months to become a teacher…7 more months to find balance…to maybe, just maybe,find…enlightenment!!! No, this had to happen now. I had already put it off for 15 years!! So I began ‘Teacher Training shopping,’ researching other programs. In my over-eagerness, I was lead to a phone conversation with another teacher training program. You know that gut feeling inside…the one we often don’t hear, but feel, and often choose to ignore? Well, I heard it, I felt it, I listened. Read More…

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