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
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.
The 2014 Yoga Teacher Training with Dina Lang was my second 200-hour teacher certification program. I had completed a training in 2013, however, it was a 30 day intensive program. While it met all the 200-hour requirements and I did take away some positive learning experiences, I felt like I wasn’t quite prepared to teach. Due to my experience of practicing at Santosha and taking classes from such fabulous teachers, there seemed to be a gap between what I experienced as a Santosha student and what I took away from the intensive training.
I had even met with Dina seeking input on how to fill the gaps where I felt like I was missing information. She graciously provided guidance. And then came the opportunity to participate in her teacher training program. (Based on all of the knowledge she provided, I am quite certain this program exceeds the 200-hour requirements.:)
The training is structured in such a way that it builds your teaching confidence over time and provides a framework to create a yoga flow for classes. And if you’re not interested in teaching, it provides an opportunity to really immerse yourself in a journey to deepen your own personal practice.
I work for the Beaverton School District as an instructional assistant supporting kids on the autism spectrum. My goal has been to make yoga accessible to the special needs population. I wanted to take my yoga off the mat and with my background as a sign language interpreter and working with kids I established Yoga Visual to serve the special needs community, provide a supportive environment, and support accessibility.
Yoga is a powerful practice that can benefit everyone – and everyone should have access to a yoga practice. The completion of Santosha’s teacher training program and Dina’s guidance has put me on a path of pursuing my goal of teaching yoga to the special needs population.
The practice of yoga is so much more than the asanas and ongoing I will always be a student of yoga. Santosha’s four month program provides the opportunity to thoughtfully explore all eight limbs. While the program provides all the tools to be a successful teacher, I found the most important take-aways are related to service and the other seven limbs of yoga.
DINA & Katy