Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Winter Solstice

Happy winter solstice, everyone!

Winter Solstice is the shortest day (and thus longest night) of the year, the day that the sun appears for the least amount of time. The tilt of the planet and shape of the orbit around the sun creates a very dark day. Many world religions celebrate Winter Solstice or the time around it as the returning of the sun and “rebirth” of the seasons because the days begin to get longer after Winter Solstice. *

At Yoga Sanctuary we celebrated the Friday before the solstice with a free yoga class led by most of our teachers, followed by a potluck. The promise of yoga offers us the hope that no matter how dark the days get- inside or outside- our essence is light. Yoga is a means to reconnect with that healing and eternal light of our own nature.

One of our kula’s (community) babies was there cooing and giggling, while I did downward dogs across from her and her parents. My very pregnant belly hung like the ripening moon below me while my three and a half year old daughter wagged her “puppy” tail underneath me. My daughter also handed toy after toy to the baby across from her, until the baby migrated toward us and they were both there with me with a pile of stuffed animals and colorful scarves decorating my yoga mat. All three little beings (two outside, one still inside!) reminded me that all life’s joys begin in the dark of the womb, as a seed of possibility. Our theme in class was “Imagine and Dream”. In the darkness, we can turn to the Light of our hearts to envision the unfolding of the New Year and all of our own possibilities. These possibilities, cradled like my baby in the dark of my womb, are ultimately the longing of the light to express and create itself in new ways. In our yoga studio, the children in the room were still fully steeped in this luminosity, while the rest of us were breathing, moving, softening and opening to cultivate our connection to our essence and re-join our forgotten self with our luminous nature.

When we have the courage to turn inside, to face our deepest fears, to grieve our losses, to feel our vulnerable human nature, we are able to then find the deep resilient light of who we are. May that resilient light guide us across the threshold from this year into the next, with confidence that we can navigate even the stormiest times and emerge stronger and more expansive in our hearts than ever. Thank you for being part of our community of light here at Yoga Sanctuary- we cannot do alone what we can do together!

Written by Sara Rose

*The 2010 Winter Solstice is an astrologically significant solstice for several reasons… this year’s Winter Solstice was a full moon, which last happened in 1999 and before that in 1980…the full moon does not happen on the Winter Solstice very often. This makes this year’s Winter Solstice especially significant.

The 2010 Winter Solstice was not only a full moon, but also a full eclipse. This is when the Earth passes between the sun and the moon, hiding the sunlight and casting a shadow over the moon. Starting at 1:33 a.m. (EST) Tuesday, the Winter Solstice Eclipse was casting an amber/red shadow over the moon, rather than an entirely black shadow that blocked out the moon. The eclipse is was considered full at 2:41 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on Tuesday, Dec. 21. 3:17 a.m. EST on the Winter Solstice. The last time the Winter Solstice saw a lunar eclipse was in 1378, 632 years ago

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Muscular Energy 101

Last month’s blog began our series on the 5 Universal Principles of Alignment of Anusara yoga. I am now adding the element that relates to each principle as well as the benefits.

Muscular Energy 101:

Benefits- physical, mental, emotional and spiritual: strength, steadiness, empowerment, confidence

Element: Earth (prittivi)

“When you create muscular energy after Opening to Grace, the outer body-skin, muscles and bones- happily draw in against an expanded and radiant inner body. The outer body is magnetically drawn in to the inner body’s radiance, harmoniously integrating the inner and outer bodies together. This sets the stage for a powerful and balanced expression to occur through the asana.”

-John Friend, Anusara Yoga Teacher Training Manual

One of the most powerfully positive differences I experienced when I was first learning Anusara yoga was the philosophy, epitomized even by the technical language of the alignment principles. Everything was said in a way that was affirming- of life, of one’s inner worthiness, of the divinity of the body. The deeply uplifting and empowering tantric philosophy teaches us not only that we are all part of the divine, but that our bodies too are a manifestation of that divine consciousness. We begin our practice by softening and opening to that great light inside and around us, setting our foundation both physically and spiritually (see the last blog, opening to grace 101). Following this softening and opening is the next Universal Principle of Alignment: muscular energy.

Anusara yoga weaves tantric philosophy into every fiber of its’ expression, including the most subtle to the most physical levels. One of the primary tenets of this philosophy is that our true nature is free, whole and perfect in its essence. This innate wholeness is a gift of grace; yet its’ unfolding, cultivation and blossoming is entirely up to us.

Because we are free, in this world of relativity we are always given the choice to align or misalign with our true nature, and to cultivate and uncover who we really are, or… not. Thus the fulfillment of our greatest potential is largely up to us, and how much we want to grow, awaken and serve a higher consciousness. This kind of alignment takes effort, sometimes tremendous effort. Muscular energy also takes effort, but that effort is one that comes not from a need to prove ourselves strong or to dominate our bodies, but rather as an expression of love for who we are and a desire to strengthen our connection to ourselves. Muscular energy is a loving boundary that perfectly complements the openness of opening to grace. After opening to the highest, muscular energy is like a seal that affirms and protects our worthiness as we hug in to our very core.

There are three aspects, physically, to muscular energy:

1.”Hug” the muscles to the bones, from the outer periphery of the skin to the innermost core of the bones

2. Draw the legs and arms into the midline of the body

3. Draw muscular energy from the periphery, such as the feet, through the legs and into the focal point (such as the core of the pelvis in standing poses)- also draw from the hands through the arms down the spine into the focal point.

Muscular energy begins with intention, and intention arises from desire. Thus we recognize that after softening to feel that we are part of something bigger (opening to grace), out of a desire to align with that bigger presence, we engage our own will and effort in order to align.

What are the benefits of muscular energy?

On every level, physically and spiritually: Stability, strength, steadfastness

Mentally and emotionally: confidence and empowerment

To be Anusara- to truly flow with the currents of grace- means to accept both our innate potential and inner goodness, as well as to cultivate and co-create with the divine. In this sophisticated philosophy, we are neither subject to some higher divine presence with no will of our own, nor are we solely in charge of the bigger picture. By practicing opening to grace and muscular energy in our lives on and off the mat, we learn to co-create with the divine- to surf the waves of consciousness. We are not victim of the waves because we have choice and can make efforts to paddle and to find the sweetest currents around us. We also cannot dominate or control this ocean we are in and so we find our way into the optimal flow by balancing effort and surrender, opening to something greater while using our own innate skills and talents to guide us where we want to go. Easier said than done, I know. But in my experience, the result of applying these principles on and off the mat is greater freedom and empowerment, and a constantly improving ability to enjoy and expand with every changing and challenging wave of life rather than to feel either victimized or in need of controlling it all.

How do you apply effort in your life?

Do you feel you are able to balance your efforts with softening and yielding to what you are not in control of?

Are you naturally more strong-willed, even physically strong, or naturally softer, and more yielding? These are both beautiful qualities in balance, yet out of balance, yielding becomes a lack of empowerment while being overly strong can lead to control issues.

Written by Sara Rose

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Back-To School Blog: Opening to Grace 101

After a steamy hot summer these cool, dry and gentle fall days are dreamy… the crisp, flowing air stirs our creativity and wakes us up for a season of focus, learning, and the comforts of a steady routine.

In honor of back-to-school season I am beginning a 5-Blog segment on the 5 Universal Principles of Alignment that are the foundation of Anusara yoga. We will begin, of course, with the first and most important principle: “Opening to Grace”

What are the 5 Principles?

1.Open to Grace

2. Muscular Energy

3. Inner spiral

4. Outer Spiral

5. Organic Energy

The First Principle, Opening to Grace, represents not just the beginning moment of yoga practice but also the underlying foundation and essence of Anusara yoga. This principle asks us to begin yoga practice by softening, becoming more sensitive, feeling and connecting to our breath, body and the world around us with awareness and openness.

We begin our practice just as every new and returning student should as they turn back to school and a new year of learning: humble, open, willing and hopefully excited! Anusara classes begin with an invocation, to set the tone that our practice is the expression of our intention to align with our innermost essence and the divine flow of the universe. Om Namah Shivaya Gurave… we bow to the divine essence of goodness and worthiness within ourselves, that highest light (shiva) which is the true teacher (gurave) inside us all.

If only school began with such an intention, and taught our children from the very beginning that they have all the wisdom and worthiness they need inside of themselves (some schools in fact do like my daughter’s- though not the ones I attended as a child!). This way, learning is more about unfolding, cultivating, drawing out and deepening the gifts that are already inside us- not acquiring something we are not, but becoming more of who we really are!

Opening to grace for me is a lot about trust. To trust that there is a benevolent force in the universe that wants me to be happy and fulfilled has required me to confront many long held beliefs from my childhood. If people- especially those who have not connected to their divine nature- let us down, betray us, hurt us, especially during our formative childhood years- why would we trust the universe has anything good to offer us? Or why would we trust that we are protected or loved?

So I understand when students may feel resistant to either the language or concept of Opening to Grace. For some the word grace meant something not empowering in their religious upbringing. So, substitute a word that works for you- open to Spirit, open to your breath, open to your own divine essence. For others if the feeling of grace in the form of love and nourishment has been absent in their life, it is easy to feel that our personal universe, devoid of love and nourishment, is all that exists- that it’s just the way it is out there.

If you are willing to face the source of any limiting beliefs; if your desire to feel free and happy are strong, you will find that Opening to Grace is the most healing and essential of all the principles. Tantric Philosophy Scholar Paul Muller-Ortega defines grace as the movement of consciousness inside- that voice, that essence in each of us that moves us to make positive changes in our life, to disrobe the limitations that bind us in our longing for freedom. Grace, this movement of consciousness, is not at all lofty or unusual but as close as your own breath, your own desire to heal your suffering and reclaim joy.

It is easy to see grace in my daughter. That bubbling light of a three year old whose joy has been nurtured and celebrated by her parents, friends and family is overflowing constantly as she dances, sings and plays. That innate joy, even her feisty willful moments of wanting to do things “her way”, are grace herself, asserting her wild, true and colorful nature.

So take a deep breath, soften and open up…grace is the very desire that lead you to read this blog and to take that deep breath! She is always with you- grace IS you at your very essence. So listen, trust who you are… grace is always with you.

What does opening to Grace mean to you?

Written by Sara Rose

Monday, September 20, 2010

Yoga, Social Justice & Activism

Last week, during the lunch break at a workshop with John Friend (founder of Anusara™) in Cambridge, a few of us started talking about yoga, social justice, and activism. And I have been thinking about the conversation and topic since. Just like the balanced action of muscular and organic energy (physically hugging in and stabilizing our muscles and our bones and then expanding and reaching outward), so, too, do we need the balanced action of inner work and engagement in the world. Our practice on the mat nourishes us and prepares us for our life off of the mat. We turn inward, care for ourselves, connect to our core, and then keeping that connection, we can go out into the world and offer our hearts, and our energy to bring healing, expansion, and freedom to others.

In yoga classes, we learn to bring our bodies into alignment, and with this we bring ourselves into greater and greater integrity. With practice, we refine our awareness and become ever more conscious. For me, this consciousness makes me see the injustices and suffering in the world all the more clearly. And I see working for social justice (access to healthy food, equal access to education, life free from suffering and violence for all, environmental protection, and much more) as a natural extension of my yoga. As I develop my own internal strength and sense of self-worth, as I see my own interconnectedness and place in the web of things, I find an increasing desire to engage with my local community.

As yogis and yoginis, we cultivate inner and outer strength on our mats, develop our sense of self-worth, and nurture a sense of hope and optimism, all of which are necessary for engaging in social activism. And I believe, too, that personal growth and development becomes that much more meaningful, that much richer, when it is paired with a turning and offering outward. Sometimes this is a simple act, such as voting for a candidate who is committed to issues you care about or taking the time to tell a service worker how much you appreciate what he or she does, and sometimes it involves a commitment of much more time and energy. We are all manifestations of cit (consciousness) – individual in nature but so much more than just ourselves. Applying the principle of balanced action, we turn in and nourish ourselves, hug into our core, and then we turn out and offer our hearts to others. I invite you to contemplate what social activism means to you and to engage, in whatever way moves you, to make our community and world safer, healthier, and more just for all.

For further contemplation:

  • What does social activism mean to you? What is social justice?
  • What small, manageable things can you do on a daily basis that are acts of activism and social justice?
  • What do you see as the connections between yoga, social justice, and social activism?
  • What causes are you drawn to? (Environmental protection, gender equality, racial justice, gay rights, food justice, education, alternative energy, violence prevention, teen pregnancy, homelessness, etc.)
  • In what way can you get involved with an issue you care about?
Written by Kendra Hodgson

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Amrita Shiva Guru

I recently had the great blessing of a couple days of study with Tantric philosophy scholar Paul Muller-Ortega. Of the many, many jewels of his teachings, here is one I loved:

Amrita Shiva Guru

Amrita means nectar. It is the emanational expression of your own consciousness. It is our essence, and includes the qualities of astonishment, sweetness and joy. Paul asked us, do you remember a time when you felt unreasonably happy? We taste this happiness, this "nectarian consciousness", throughout our lives. Something happens that pierces and opens our heart, and the amrita, the natural happiness and sweetness of our own consciousness awakens. Though it may seem that this sweetness comes from an outside experience- such as watching an exquisite sunset or dancing into a state of bliss- amrita does not come from the outside. We don't have to go anywhere to procure this nectar- it is who we are, not just within us, but our very own essence. This feeling happens naturally when we are able to instinctively touch the sacred.

For all of us though, there remains the reality that we do not live in this nectarian consciousness all- or even most- of the time (although my three year old daughter seems to drink from the nectar of her own consciousness most of the time. She usually experiences a near constant state of delight in life and wonder at everything! Except for the usual human meltdowns and tantrums, of course).

How do we live from this state of being more of the time? This is where yoga comes in. Through practice, we begin to remove the obstacles to this state of being. It takes Abhyasa Kramena. Abhyasa meaning practice, kramena meaning a particular sequence... by means of a particular combination of elements, we learn to refine our state of consciousness.

A- Mrita means not dead! You are not dead. Our choice is to align with the higher reality of our lives.

Shiva means auspicious.

Auspiciousness is often meant to refer to something well begun, that which bodes well. In Tantric philosophy, Shiva is the auspiciousness of your own nature- divine, whole, perfect.

Guru means "the sacred intensity of that guiding consciousness inside of you". Guru means the heavy, weighty- the most weighty, or valuable, experiences and energies. That which guides and teaches us, sometimes in the form of an external teacher, but always a guiding consciousness that emanates from the inside.

With all things in life, may the Amrita Shiva Guru - the sacred intensity of that divine, nectarian consciousness that compels us forward on our path be our guiding light.

Though doubts and fears will arise- this is all part of the divine's pulsating dance of limitation and freedom- may we take the highest path, the path of the heart.

Written by Sara Rose

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Nature of the Universe

As we begin the final month of summer, we find ourselves completely surrounded by the beauty and heat of the natural world. What a wonderful time to contemplate the Nature of the Universe. On those balmy summer nights as we gaze up into the beauty of the night sky, we become aware of how small we are in the midst of the awesomeness before us. We begin to sense the oneness. Looking beyond our mats we find the many teachings of Anusara yoga to explore and reflect upon.

From the tantric point of view everything in the Universe is Supreme Consciousness. The Universe is comprised of both absolute and relative worlds of existence. Levels of existence are referred to as tattvas. There are 5 tattvas of the absolute world, 6 tattvas of the physical world and 25 tattvas of the relative world.

One of my favorite tattvas of absolute reality is Ananda which means bliss in sanskrit. It is supreme creative power. Ananda is associated with Shakti, the personification of the female principle. On the other hand Shiva is the embodiment of the male principle. The figure of Shiva and Shakti entwined in the yub-yum (mother-father) position is the symbolic representation of Oneness, the realisation that both are an aspect of the Singularity, the Total Consciousness, The Absolute ONE without beginning or end.

In the remaining weeks of summer take a moment to invite Ananda in. Let the beauty of nature be your guide. Simply bathe in the Summer sun or moonlight and breathe in the bliss.

Written by Susan Elena Esquivel

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Guru Purnima

Sunday, July 25th was Guru Purnima. We hope you had a chance to enjoy the splendor of the full moon on this special summer night. If you missed it and have some curiosity about the origin of this celebration here is a brief history.

It is said that thousands of years ago the tradition of Guru Purnima began. A Guru is the one who dispels the darkness, or the one who brings to light that which is hidden from awareness. In Tantra the root words that are in Guru are GU= remover and RU= darkness. In simple language Guru is frequently translated as teacher. Purnima means full and it refers in this case to the Full Moon of the Guru. In yogic symbolism the moon represents the mind and the sun represents the light of God or the Self. The Guru is the one whose mind is full with the light of God.

A great and most revered sage named Vyasa is said to have been responsible for editing the four Vedas, writing the eighteen Puranas, the Mahabharata and the Srimad Bhagavata. In honor of this tremendous gift to humanity a tradition began of honoring Vyasa on the full moon that falls in the mid summer months. This time was the beginning of the rainy season in India and spiritual aspirants would all gather together to spend the next four months in one location where they would intensively practice their discipline. To sanctify their pursuit they would first pay respectful oblations to Vyasa and their own spiritual preceptor, or Guru. [1]

This day is also of deep significance to the farmers, for it heralds the setting in of the much-needed rains, as the advent of cool showers usher in fresh life in the fields. It is a good time to begin your spiritual lessons. Traditionally, spiritual seekers commence to intensify their spiritual 'sadhana' (practice) from this day forward.

Guru Purnima is a wonderful time for all of us to bask in the warmth of the moonlight and give thanks to all of our teachers past, present and future.

[1] Hindu Fasts & Festivals, Swami Sivananda, p. 28-36

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Co-creation: Become an Artist of Life

When I was a teenager I came across "The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz and it changed my life. Ruiz was so clear, so simple, so honest in his articulation of the Truth, it helped me through a very difficult time, and I have carried his teachings with me ever since.

Lately I've been contemplating what Ruiz calls "the victim & the judge". The victim and the judge are like two characters that the ego likes to identify itself with, two archetypes, if you will, that often unconsciously dominate our experience. The "victim" perceives life as happening to her, rather than with her, she feels small, stuck, trapped on the hamster wheel of samsara (the wheel of suffering). The "judge"is exactly what it sounds like: harsh, critical, rigid, perfectionistic, perpetually trying to control the world by judging it; no matter what happens, it's insufficient & unworthy to the judge, no one and nothing are ever good enough. Sound familiar? Clearly, this tendency of the ego to misidentify itself does not serve to enhance our life, rather it increases the feeling of limitation and powerlessness. So how do we get out of this victim/judge cycle?

We do yoga. And we learn how to become artists of life, using every experience as an opportunity to unfold our self and create the life that we want for ourselves, the planet and all of its creatures.

Yoga is the place of the middle, between the victim and the judge, between the helpless and the overbearing. Yoga literally means "to engage yourself", to engage your body, to engage your mind & heart, and as a result, to engage your life as the empowered co-creator of reality. We are neither the victim of our experience, nor so arrogant as to believe that we are in complete control of it. Instead we are actively receptive, empowered to receive whatever life is offering us (even when we don't like it) and empowered to use that experience to create the life that we want. Co-creation inherently means that we don't get to choose everything that happens to us in our life, but we do get to choose how we engage with whatever life is offering, in this way we become artists instead of judges. Furthermore, we do get to choose what it is that we want for our life, for ourselves, for the planet, and future generations. By knowing what we want, we become deeply empowered and deeply responsible, no longer the victim.

A beautiful practice that you can use on or off the mat is asking yourself the 3 questions of Yoga:

What do you want?
Why do you want it?
What are you going to do about it?

As soon as you engage these 3 questions, you are no longer the victim or the judge, but the empowered artist skillfully weaving the desires of your heart into the fabric of the universe.

Written by Amy Reed

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Bhakti Brothers Kirtan - Sunday, July 11

Yoga Sanctuary is pleased to host these fine musicians once again. Last year they stopped in during their Roots & Wings Tour - it was a beautful evening and this one is not to be missed!

Join this sacred world music experience for an inspired, uplifting, rockin', and unique evening of kirtan, music, chanting, and mystic poetry. The Bhakti Brothers create a soulful and ecstatic celebration of Naada yoga (the yoga of sacred sound and vibration) and Bhakti Yoga (the yoga of love and devotion in complete surrender) with an array of unique ethnic instruments from around the globe.

Together Kirtan singer and musician Gaura Vani, multi-instrumentalist and singer Benjy Wertheimer, world percussionist and spoken word artist John de Kadt, and other consummate musicians (including Jahnavi Harrison, Warrick Moses and Purusartha das) will assemble for a powerful, mesmerizing musical community event of chanting, world rhythm, and mystic poetry.

Come and sing with an open mouth and dance with a widening heart!! Sunday, Jully 11 from 7:00 - 8:45pm. Tickets are $15 at the door. Visit for more information.

Monday, June 21, 2010

July Workshops with Desirée Rumbaugh & Andrew Rivin

The Summer continues to shine bright at Yoga Sanctuary with exciting one day workshops during the month of July. Come bask in the warmth of the YS kula!

Join us for a day of deepening your practice on Saturday, July 3rd. Desirée has a well-earned reputation for deepening even the most advanced practices. She does it with a sense of humor balanced with a quest for authenticity. What is most surprising is her ability to tap into a soft heart and vulnerable spaces to access these wonderful poses. Her unique ability to draw out that bright and shining light from within every student, no matter what level of yoga experience, is her gift to the world.
Fees: $50 for both sessions; Eye of Kitten - $25; Eye of the Tiger - $35.

Eye of the Kitten
Sat 7/3/2010 from 11:30 AM - 1:30 PM
Take your practice to the next level without the advanced poses! Come and learn how much fun it is to play hard without doing headstands, handstands and arm balances. Be prepared to get a good workout and laugh a lot. Open to all students, even those with mild injuries or chronic pain.

Eye of the Tiger
Sat 7/3/2010 from 2:30 PM - 5:30 PM
Come prepared to meet the challenges you crave and see how far you can go with yoga-- in this body-- in this lifetime. We will each play up to our own personal edges within the safety of the Universal Principles of Alignment. Guaranteed fun for all who can kick up to Handstand at the wall and push up to Urdhva Danurasana with straight arms, unassisted.

Skill in Action Workshop with Andrew Rivin
on Saturday, July 31.

Join Andrew Rivin, one of Yoga Sanctuary's favorite guest teachers for a day of focused practice. Andrew brings his energetic
and playful style to YS for a day long workshop. Take one part or stay for the whole afternoon!

Skill in Action - Session I with Andrew Rivin
Sat 7/31/2010 from 11:30 AM - 2:00 PM
Intermediate level backbends. Must be able to kick up into handstand at the wall unassisted and press up
into a full wheel with straight arms.

Skill in Action - Session II with Andrew Rivin
Sat 7/31/2010 from 3:00 PM - 5:30 PM
Intermediate level forward bends, hip-openers, arm-balances.

Price $30.For both classes: $50

Sign up Online at!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Amy Ippoliti June 2010 Workshop

Certified Anusara teacher Amy Ippoliti shared her wonderful teachings during her Lift the Veils and Set your Sails Workshop the beginning of June. We welcomed many yogis and yoginis from the New England and New York area. The weekend was rich and everyone was uplifted. We look forward to welcoming Amy back soon and if you missed this one, be sure to catch her next visit. You will be rewarded with breakthroughs in your practice and priceless inspiration.


N., a sacred place. the most holy part of a sacred place. a place that provides refuge  

As we were preparing to launch our newly re-designed website, I was also getting ready to celebrate my daughter’s third birthday. She turned three right on schedule, which is not quite what happened with our website. But in any event, there is a birthing process for everything in creation, and now that I think of it, working on our new website has not been so far off in its’ gestation time as a human pregnancy. I am getting much better at waiting patiently for things to happen now that I’m a parent! I figure that the things that matter will and do happen, eventually. As my daughter approached her third birthday my thoughts turned back in time to my pregnancy, and the last three magical, challenging, love-filled years with her. That’s when I started all this thinking about the birth and beginning of things- my daughter, Yoga Sanctuary, and even the beginning of my own yoga path.
These two facets of my life- motherhood and studio ownership- are so distinct and different yet each is inextricably woven into my heart. Though they are two very different kinds of “children” they each were born from a clear intention and desire to bring love, healing and joy into the world.
How did the name for Yoga Sanctuary come about? In a deep half-sleep one early morning, back in the winter of 1999, I literally heard the word “sanctuary” in my mind and knew that was to be the name of the yoga studio I was then co-creating with my dear friend and fellow yoga teacher, Tara Starling. Thus was born … Yoga Sanctuary. It was a perfect name. A place of refuge; a sacred place. This name embodied the intention that Tara and I shared; we each experienced yoga as a sacred practice, and one that offered refuge to one’s innermost being. That’s what we wanted to create for our students.
My intention first and foremost as Director of Yoga Sanctuary these last 11 years has been to offer yoga as a practice that empowers every student to awaken to who they really are- to recognize their divine nature, their own radiant heart. Part of that awakening often requires peeling off the layers of protection that our consciousness skillfully, at some point, used to bandage the inevitable wounds of life. I wanted Yoga Sanctuary to be a place of healing.
Our vibrant community has grown from the seed of this intention, as one student at a time, in the support of community, we have helped spark one another into remembrance, acceptance, cultivation and celebration of our true selves.
Yoga means to yoke, join, unite- to collect and thread together all the layers and parts of ourselves into one cohesive experience and expression of ourselves. One of my favorite teachings of yoga, which I learned from Tantric scholar Dr. Douglas Brooks, is the teaching of Vasudeva. Vasu is a dwelling, deva - from the root word div, means to shine, light, divine. Vasudeva then means to dwell in the Light of our being. To make a home in our own consciousness. To dwell in the sanctuary of our own hearts.
This can sound lofty and beautiful in theory yet so difficult to experience in “real life”. The Tantric path invites us into nothing less than the extraordinary revelation of Light within our very real and ordinary human lives.
This contemplation on the roots of the studio brought me back to remember where my path of yoga began, why it began, how it all started. I was a freshman in college when I saw a fun sign for a yoga class, taught by one of the college’s dance teachers (who later became a dear friend and fellow teacher of mine!) I felt a playful curiosity in this new idea, yoga, and signed right up for the class.
For most people, the interest in yoga begins because of some kind of restriction or limitation, be it an aching back, sore shoulders, a broken heart and a longing to heal, and/or a desire to know there is more meaning and beauty to life than we are experiencing. At the same time the desire to experience joy is a great reason to start yoga. When I ask my daughter why we do yoga she says, “Because it’s fun!”
For me, it was first curiosity and a love of movement that drew me to yoga, although later my own emotional pain was the gateway into a desire to know the deeper essence of the practice. My longing to feel part of something bigger, to find a nourishing spiritual connection, became the driving force in my life. I was seeking sanctuary, and I left college to find it in a yoga ashram.
Almost two years later, I moved out of the ashram and began teaching yoga. I was twenty-one when I taught my first class. Fast-forward 8 more years of healing, growing, teaching and learning and it was 1999, and the birth of Yoga Sanctuary. I had already completed Teacher Trainings in Kripalu Yoga in 1992, then a 2 year Iyengar Teacher Training, before I found the yoga that truly made my heart sing. It was later that same year, 1999, that Tara and I birthed Yoga Sanctuary that I met John Friend, the founder of Anusara yoga. Finally, the way I believed yoga should be- a practice filled with loving-kindness, integrity, healing alignment and celebration of life- was embodied by John’s teaching style. Plus, he was hilarious and I loved how much we all laughed. So many of my previous spiritual teachers had been serious, heavy, and a little too important to be fun. Through Anusara I really learned to enjoy my yoga like never before.
Anusara yoga and the uplifting Tantric philosophy that is at its’ heart infused my own practice, life and teaching with a steadiness, a joy and a grace that was a profound blessing. My teaching skills skyrocketed to new levels under John Friend’s brilliant and elegant method, and I felt the power of this practice infuse Yoga Sanctuary with a Light that was brighter, more nourishing and more joyful than ever before. In 2004 I applied for and received Certification in Anusara yoga. Since then Yoga Sanctuary has continued to grow, change and flourish, and we moved to our current, most beautiful and expansive location in the fall of 2008.
I have been told countless times by so many sweet souls, that from the moment of crossing the threshold into Yoga Sanctuary, they feel a sense of peace wash over them. They feel an energy of love, beauty and Light that is truly palpable. This energy has been created, maintained and refined over the last 11 years, by all the gifted and loving teachers who contribute to Yoga Sanctuary and by all of our amazing, dedicated students who bring their hearts and beings so fully to the practice. From the moment of its’ inception, Yoga Sanctuary has been held by my intention and the intention of all its’ teachers. Yoga Sanctuary and our community of the heart (“kula”) has also been held by the divine itself, which is not only something bigger or more than ourselves, but an echo of our own deepest desires, the Light of Consciousness- Vasudeva- that inspires us to create in the first place.
To be able to offer a place of refuge and of artful learning, a place that offers truly transformational practices and the support to make that journey, is the greatest honor and joy for me. And of course raising my daughter in a home of love, joy and gentleness, embedded within a loving and playful community, within yet wider circles of loving creative souls… this too is the greatest joy and most meaningful work of my life.
If you have been part of Yoga Sanctuary, thank you. If you are new to our community, welcome. I offer you my deepest bow of honor. Namaste, and welcome to our sanctuary. We hope you will feel at home.

Written by Sara Rose

Welcome to the Yoga Sanctuary Blog!

We’re so excited to be launching our newly redesigned website, blog and facebook page (be our fan! www.facebook/yogasanctuarynoho). We will post blogs on various topics such as yoga philosophy, community events and news, as well as share stories about the great people in our community.

Look for our inspiring "off the mat" section where our students share how they bring yoga into their everyday lives to make a difference in the world…coming soon.