I started practicing yoga in the ‘90s in Northampton, MA. I had never liked to "exercise", and my place of business at the time offered to pay for "physical fitness" among the benefits that they offered. I went to my first yoga class at Northampton Yoga Center, and immediately after class, I signed up for the next few months. I went four times a week, and LOVED it. I have been practicing yoga off and on ever since.
When my son was in first grade his teacher asked if I would like to share yoga with the class since she knew I did yoga. It was so much fun finding creative ways of doing yoga with the kids. I have been teaching yoga there ever since.
I was inspired by that experience. When people began asking me when I would offer classes outside of the school, I decided to take my first yoga teacher training in 2009. The program I took was part of a bodywork modality called Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy. I was interested in this both as a potential addition to my work as a massage therapist AND to strengthen and give me "credibility" (in my own mind) as a yoga teacher. That training was a life changing experience in many ways, and opened my eyes to the power of yoga as a tool to get to know the True Self.
As time went on, I felt the need to enliven and deepen my own practice, and to further my understanding and ability as a teacher. I was excited to see that there was going to be a teacher training fairly near to me at Santosha Yoga.
After my first meeting with Dina Lang, ERYT 500, I was sure that the training she offered was exactly what I was looking for to fill in more of those pieces.
Yoga is obviously so much more than a "fitness program"; it is a path to self-knowledge unlike anything else that I have found. It can be healing, joyful, energizing, and relaxing. It can be a deep internal or external experience. I practice yoga more now, (including at home), and enjoy taking classes at a number of local studios.
After the training, I’ve continued reading and studying more about yoga, from the sacred texts to other Yogi's biographies and teaching tools. I have discovered an abiding love of Yin Yoga, and plan to take a teacher training in that soon. I am continuing to teach yoga at City View, and have subbed at Yoga Hillsboro and run my massage business.
Carole Cotten-Figueiredo, LMT #13383
Honoring the Stillness Within
I started doing Sprint and Olympic distance triathlons in 1998 and continued for many years before diving into the endurance distance of half and full Ironman races. It is one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life and has given me a sense of dedication, commitment, and focus that carries into all areas of my life. Yet, in the last two years I have evolved. I opened my open business, Catch Wellness LLC, where I work as a health coach and yoga has become a big part of my life. I have learned to be present and to carry my practice into my daily life. I have a new strength that gives me a sense of balance or at least a sense of what balance is. I keep striving for balance and yoga gives me the breath to keep trying. I've spent the last two years working on balancing my life, work, and interests.
But, what really matters is our health!
Health is our greatest asset. Without it, nothing else really matters, does it? If you are told you might only have two years left on this Earth, what would you do? I see this everyday, working with sick children. I see this in family and friends around me. I am blessed and don’t take this for granted. Life can be turned upside down in a matter of minutes.
My perspective changed about my half Ironman Triathlon. This race was no longer about setting a PR or making business decisions. This race was about all those around me who are faced with the challenge of living. They are faced with the challenges of pain and agony each and every day just to breathe or to get through that hour of treatment.
This is about survival. This about breath, like no other.
So, my race became a Race for a Cause, for the greater good, for someone who is fighting for life and doing it with grace, courage, and love. Brittany is a friend whom I have only known for about a year, but I feel like I have known for years. Her spirit gives me peace to know that all of these life challenges that we think are big decisions, hurdles that seem impossible, are really just moments in time on the grander scale of life; a precious life.
So, just breathe! Don’t sweat the small stuff. Believe. Trust yourself. Love. And above all, be kind.
Namaste. Dig deep. Ahimsa. Never, ever, ever give up.
Lisa Sullivan RN, Certified Health Coach, Food for Life Instructor
“Be the change you wish to see in the world” Buddha
To be authentic as a yoga teacher, for me, it is important to walk the walk and practice what I preach. After seven years of teaching, I continue to believe strongly in svadhyaya (or self-study) and work to keep myself accountable and learning. Even though I completed my first 200-hour training seven years ago, I jumped at the chance to continue learning when Dina opened up the modules in her teacher training to established teachers.
I met Dina while we were both getting our initial yoga teaching credential. The 200 hours we spent together revealed to me that Dina had a true gift for sharing yoga.
After that training, she went on to complete not one, but two 500-hour teacher trainings with two of the most revered yoga teachers in the country: Dharma Mitra and Tiffany Cruikshank. It was fun to watch her process as she wrote her own teacher training.
The truth is, long before she wrote her training, she was a teacher of teachers. Dina has been my go-to resource for all things yoga or questions about teaching for the past seven years.
I knew her training was going to be much more comprehensive than that initial training we did together. I was able to join her larger group for both the Sacred Text and Anatomy modules, building on my knowledge in these areas.
The anatomy lectures with Janci Butler were an invaluable addition to my teaching repertoire. Even six months after completing the module, concepts and ideas she presented are a part of each and every one of my private yoga sessions.
While many people shy away from the sacred texts (the Yoga Sutras and Bhagavad Gita), to me, it was the perfect thing to explore with Dina. Primarily because the lessons and teaching we explored underscore so much of what I’ve been learning from Dina all these years already: service, generosity and love.
Service: With yoga, there are no economics. The knowledge that we gain, the learning from teachers we encounter, the gift of yoga (and I believe physical health) is truly ours to share and to give away. To students and to other teachers, we give away and use our learning for the good with hopes that they will reach someone else who can feel the impact of this great practice.
Generosity: There is no one more generous than Dina Lang. To be around her is to understand that you will learn and see first hand what selfless service really means. We explored at length the important aspect of doing the right thing because it is simply the right thing. Not because of the fruits or positive accolades for our “rightness”. To me, this is the most authentic version of generosity.
Love: Studying the Yoga Sutras and Bhagavad Gita we had many long discussions about karma. An idea that really stuck with me was the tenant that each of us has the chance to live a lifetime in (and learn the lessons of) all the various forms or challenges of humanity: homeless person, murder, widow, the list is endless. So no matter where we are today, it’s just today. God or whom or what ever you perceive that to be, lives in each of us. Take notice of this presence when you look in anyone’s eyes. And understand that whatever circumstances are, they are just today’s circumstances. Everyone’s doing the best they can. And a little love can go a long way towards peace and understanding.
Lee Carson teaches private yoga at Hyatt Training, the Portland personal training studio she co-owns and operates with her husband.